Sunday, September 30, 2012

Why PassivHaus Is the Cornerstone of Eco-Friendly Building

Eco-friendly and sustainable building is growing in popularity to help reduce carbon emissions and save energy.

One of the original movements towards a sustainable way of building and living is PassivHaus. PassivHaus is a voluntary building standard and concept that was developed in Germany in the 1990's and is a high standard implemented to build low-energy homes around the world. It enables energy efficiency in the home and keeps energy costs to a minimum as well as reducing carbon emissions.

PassivHaus is based on the principle that reducing heat loss to a minimum is the most effective way of achieving a low carbon and green building and this standard used in a variety of buildings including homes, offices and schools.

There are six main criteria for building a PassivHaus which are:

• Super insulation with optimum heat retention within the building

• Maximum draught proofing

• Ventilation combined with heat recovery

• Solar panels to harness the sun's heat

• Renewable energy sources for instance using solar photovoltaic panels that convert solar radiation into electricity

• Energy efficient appliances which reduce energy consumption.

A PassivHaus is built to be completely airtight and is essentially a constructed shell with the optimum level of insulation that conserves heat and therefore requires little or no additional heating inside the building. Insulation includes high performance thermal windows and doors with double and triple glazing, an insulated roof and floor and insulation fitted in exterior walls.

The PassivHaus philosophy of optimum insulation is also combined with the use of a mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) system which provides ventilation and captures and re-uses that ventilated air for heat which would otherwise be lost through draught gaps in the home. The MVHR system continually purifies the air, expelling stale air and drawing pure air from the outside of the building as well as recovering the air in the building to use for heat. Up to 94.4% heat recovery can be achieved with MVHR systems. Outside air is pulled into the heat exchanger within the system which warms the air and when warmed it is distributed evenly around the building.

A MVHR system is also the method used for cooling a building when the climate is warm so that warm air is actually cooled instead of heated and distributed evenly around the building. Shades on the building are also used to minimise the amount of heat that a building is exposed to and keeps the building cool in warm climates.

Solar panels are placed on the roof to capture the sun's radiation and to use this natural source of energy to generate electricity.

The energy savings in a PassivHaus achieved compared to typical Northern European properties is 90% and compared to new build homes over 75%.

Where a PassivHaus building is located and if it is facing North, South, East and West can determine the building design and where the coolant shades and solar panels are situated. PassivHaus can be used both at the point of constructing a new building or incorporated into a renovation or refit of an existing building.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How to Make Your Home Eco-Friendly?

"Green" is actually the buzzword at present. Unlike a few years back, today people have really become a lot more conscious about the impact that they leave on environment. There are many popular production companies that are focusing on creating eco-friendly products. Along with the efforts of big companies, the general public is also ready to take the responsibility of making the planet a safe place to live. People are looking for different ways to make their home eco-friendly.

The very first step to go green is the simplest of all and emphasizes on saving wherever possible. This implies cutting back on usage of things, like electricity and water. You can conserve energy by using energy-efficient LED lights, disconnecting the phone chargers and switching off the lights if they are not being used. It is also important to buy domestic appliances that can offer high energy efficiency. Simple actions as such are not only economical but also quite potent to protect the environment.

For any property to be regarded as green or eco-friendly, it must have minimum impact on environment by making use of resources which the environment offers. Things like wind and sunlight are one of the most important sources of energy which would never get exhausted. Thus, a good amount of research is being done on how to use these elements in different ways. To lower down the utility bills, installing solar panels and wind turbine generators are already gaining popularity.

Being an environment friendly home buyer, you must thoroughly consider the size, as well as location, of your new house. Choose a location where your home would have the least harmful impact on environment. Usually, it is considered better if you build upwards rather than expanding on ground. Besides, the design of the house also plays a significant role in making a property green. It is advisable to get all the windows strategically installed, so that maximum natural light and heat can enter into the house. For hot water, solar panels can be used which are a popular means to generate energy. Likewise, when it comes to materials and technologies to be used in a house, the options that you can have to go green are endless. The materials used must be easily reusable, renewable and recycled.

Use of sustainable products, like bamboo and other recyclable products for flooring, makes an excellent choice. Landscaping with native plants is also a good option to reduce the requirement for fertilizing and watering. Besides, it is also viable to look for houses that are created with low quality paint products. Products that contain toxins, chemicals and off-gassing are not only harmful for the environment but also for your health. Especially people, who are seriously sensitive to such chemicals, must avoid buying houses painted with highly dangerous paint materials. These small modifications can considerably reduce your energy bills, decrease water usage, bring down your building's total carbon footprint and improve the air quality inside your house.