Building Green - Mistakes to Avoid

When you decide to build a green home, you do so to minimise your carbon footprint, to reduce harm to the environment and to build a better, more eco-friendly future for your grandchildren. As you embark on your project of a lifetime, be careful not to lose sight of your goal and original good intentions as things gather momentum. The following are common mistakes made during the often lengthy process of designing and building a green home; read on to make sure that you don't fall into any of these traps too.

1. Size matters

Don't get carried away and build more than you actually need. An oversized dwelling will waste energy and cost more to upkeep and run. Consider your lifestyle and think about your plans for the future; are you retiring and looking to downsize, do you intend to expand your family, or will you want to take in elderly relatives in the future? Do you envisage living here forever or are you likely to move on in years to come?

2. Location, location, location

The right location for your home is vital. If your chosen plot is right out in the sticks in an idyllic and peaceful rural setting, what will the impact be on the local wildlife and ecosystem? Will bringing in power lines, utilities connections and access road ruin the locale for everyone else who currently enjoys it? Will your dream home be viewed as a blot on the landscape?

3. Solar power

If you intend your home to be truly green, you must build where you have unobstructed solar access from 9am until 3pm and your home should have a southern aspect. By building your home in this position you will automatically save yourself 10% on annual energy costs. Make sure that most of your windows are on the southern facing side of the house to maximise solar gain on sunny days and use materials that will absorb and radiate the sun's warmth. You will of course need to provide plenty of natural shade by using trees and fit suitable blinds to keep out excessive heat during the summer months and warmth in during the winter.

4. Research pays

Make sure that you study all available green building options. There are plenty of environmentally friendly materials available to suit all budgets. Try to source non-toxic, sustainable, recycled and low VOC products wherever you can. Whether it be paint, insulation, roofing materials or lighting everything you use can be good to the environment. When it comes to furnishing your home you can still be green. Pretty much everything for the home from floor coverings to furniture can be environmentally friendly. And of course you can find virtually everything you're likely to want second hand by searching second hand shops or charity stores.

5. Careful disposal

As with any building project whether it is green or not, there will be unused materials and waste to dispose of. Be sure to do this responsibly and recycle wherever you can.

6. Maximise insulation

There's no excuse not to thoroughly insulate your home. The UK government offer very attractive grants and incentives to those who seriously want to save energy and maximise their home's energy efficiency. Well-insulated walls, windows, loft space and foundations will prevent heat loss and increase gain. Your energy bills will reduce significantly and you will also be saving valuable resources in a world where non-sustainable fuel supplies are dwindling alarmingly.

7. Roof style

The shape of your roof is very influential when it comes to the energy efficiency of your home. Flat roofs cause problems as they are inclined to retain and build up water whereas a sloping roof will not. Insulation of the roof is an important element in the overall energy efficiency of your home.

8. Energy efficient equipment

Thorough research and clever selection of in-home equipment will save you money on energy and can also be kind to the environment. The market place is stacked full of green appliances to suit all pockets, so get Googling before you start your project.

Alison Page

About Alison Page

Alison is a small business owner, freelance writer, author and dressage judge. She has degrees in Equine Science and Business Studies. Read her full story at

Alison Page

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