As I enter Julie’s home I see plenty of money plants all around her house. Some are in lovely glass bottles, tiny jars and some even in mugs. But they hang everywhere. “I like money plants. They bring luck and change your financial fortunes for the better. Besides, I like a bit of green inside my home,” explained Julie, seeing my expression. This is her idea of a green home.
Green homes may mean different things to each one of us. While some usher in green in their homes through indoor plants and terrace gardens, some go a lot further. Take the case of Five Seasons House in Bangalore. The house is designed on the principles of a green home with a lot of love and care. There is abundant sunshine in the house, lovely pools, fountains in the garden, water gets recycled, car-pooling is encouraged and scrap is recycled. A lot of their furniture is repurposed and the whole house is a beautiful work of art.
So whatever may be your thoughts on going green, green homes are definitely eco-friendly, healthy and friendly on your wallet in the long run. How? Let us find out.
Defining a green home
A home that conserves energy, resources and is sustainable in the long run is a green home. Green homes are champions of environment as they use energy efficient materials, resources, and thereby incur low carbon footprint. But the nicest thing about living in green homes is not just about being nice to the environment. It also means a healthier you.
Rupa’s home is an example of this. Her home is made of mud bricks and the inside of her home is not painted. “For a decade I suffered from throat irritations living in a rented apartment. When two years back we decided to build a home, we wanted it to be as close to nature as possible. So we opted for mud blocks and opted out of paints. I am now free of respiratory ailments,” Rupa clarifies. The health of Rupa is no mystery. Paints with VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) content in them can lead to respiratory problems. So health conscious owners shift to organic paints or paints with low VOC in them. Organic paints are a tad costly, but in the long run they are worth it especially if you are allergic to paints and varnishes.
Thus, the benefits of living in such a home are plenty. Here are some more.
Economically sound: Energy efficient homes bring down water and electricity bills. Plenty of sunlight, energy efficient light appliances, better insulation and temperature control bring down electricity bills. Similarly, fixing of leaks, better management of water on site like rain and storm water, water conserving faucets and shower heads, reduce water bills too.
So if you have plans to construct a home in the near future, then why not go for a greener approach? With rising levels of pollution and warning signs of global warming, this can be your contribution to a greener world. Here are a few salient points to consider during design of such homes.
Local materials: Use locally available materials whenever possible. Natural materials like mud blocks, stone and recycled wood or bamboo can be effectively used to ensure that the carbon emissions are low. Try to cut down on steel, cement and concrete usage.
Sunlight: Opt for natural sunlight. Plan the orientation of homes in such a way that there is abundant sunlight entering your home. Place windows to get maximum sunlight. Go for skylights, and if you have the space, opt for an open courtyard too. Such courtyards help in cross ventilation, bring in adequate sunlight and also keep the home cooler.
Save water and plan for rain water and usage of grey water: Be water wise and save rain water. Collect the rain water, filter it as it passes through pipes and store it in storage tanks. Plan to use the grey kitchen water to water gardens. Some of the green homes in Bangalore have also connected the output of their washing machine to the flush tanks in toilets.
Paint free: Organic paints are costly but are great for your health as they are lead free. There are some homes owners who have opted to go paint and plaster free as well.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Recycle or upcycle whenever you can. Doors, window frames, recycled wood, lighting fixtures, cabinets can be repurposed for your home. Homes like the Five Seasons House in Bangalore have found new uses for pipes, tyres, furniture, trunks, stone slabs etc.
Compost waste: Composting can be fun. My neighbour uses a khamba pot from ‘Daily Dump’ organisation to compost wet waste. At the end of six weeks the black compost is used for her vegetable garden, and sometime she gifts them to her friends. The Daily Dump comes with decorative pots that make composting a lot of fun. You can get all the details of the product and its usage manual on their website.
Run on Solar: The solar installation initially may cost you. But when all your appliances will run on solar power, think solar lighting and heating, your bills come down too. If you have a roof, balcony area, then solar panels may be right for you. So opt for solar panels after deciding on your budget that covers the initial investment, installation, servicing and maintenance of the units.
A little bit of forethought and planning of your home can prevent cost escalations at the last moment and help you design a cost effective home, a home that you and your family will be proud of in the years to come. So it makes sense to go that extra mile while designing your dream home.