Building sustainable homes
A sustainable home needs to be energy efficient, produce low emissions and keep waste to a minimum. For many people building a new home, sustainability is increasingly important. But what makes a home sustainable? In this blog, we’ve put together everything you need to know to design your dream house in a sustainable and long-lasting way.
How to build sustainably
There are several factors to consider when building with a sustainable mindset. From the way the house is laid out, to the materials used and the features you focus on, everything needs to be carefully considered. Let’s explore the main features of sustainable homes.
Responsible house design
It’s important to design a home with the future in mind and ensure it will successfully meet the needs of the occupants for generations to come. Responsible design means understanding the context of a building and how it will be used. If this is done well, the house will be functional, energy-efficient and last for many years after it’s built. To be specific, it’s a good idea to design a house that is positioned to let the sun in, is easy to heat with one economical heat source and is built using high-quality materials. In doing this, the house will be warmer, drier and longer lasting which is ultimately more sustainable than a house that experiences issues prematurely and requires renovations too soon after being built. The best way to ensure your house is sustainable is to ensure it is future-proof from the get-go so it will suit your needs for a long time.
Minimising material waste
A crucial part of building sustainably is keeping the amount of waste as low as possible. Conventional building sites tend to generate more waste and in particular, excess materials because the surplus cannot be easily stored for another project. Since construction waste makes up 40-50% of our landfill waste nationally, these wasted materials add up significantly. Even worse, there are several cases where these synthetic materials have been illegally dumped near the build sites where they can cause significant damage to the surrounding environment.
However, there are ways to avoid this unnecessary waste. Having a prefab home built in a factory means materials are ordered in an efficient manner, ahead of time and as needed, meaning less waste and fewer materials ending up in the skip and excess materials can be stored for the next build.
At Genius Homes, we contain the use of materials in the factory with controlled waste measures to ensure nothing is discarded into our surrounding environment. Additional materials are stored for future use and we are continually looking for new ways to reduce overall waste throughout our manufacturing processes.
Reducing travel emissions
Keeping travel down is another key way to build a house sustainably because it helps to keep emissions low. For conventional builds, this can be a challenge because builders are required to travel to the location every day, which can add up to a considerable distance across the whole build. Materials also need to be delivered to the site, often from different suppliers, increasing road traffic and emissions.
Fortunately, constructing a prefab house means travel emissions are significantly reduced. At Genius Homes, building houses in our centrally-located factory has reduced the amount of travel our builders and tradespeople need to get from the workshop to the building site every day and eliminates the small trips back and forth to fill up on supplies. With everything under one roof, our emissions are kept far lower than on-site build companies. The only time travel emissions come into play is when the house is delivered and installed, which is a relatively short amount of time.
Sustainable building materials
Choosing the right materials is a key factor in building a sustainable home. It’s a good idea to check what products your building company uses, how they’re sourced and how energy efficient the materials will be.
At Genius Homes we prioritise using sustainable materials. Here are some of our favourite examples:
- We use sustainably sourced timber from managed forests within New Zealand for all our structural framing.
- Our insulation is made from sustainably sourced glass-wool from Bradford. It’s made from glass bottles unable to be recycled which helps reduce waste ending up in the landfill.
- All our windows use thermally broken, double-glazing to ensure our homes are warm, dry and conserve energy effectively.
- Every home includes an energy-efficient heat pump to keep them warm and compliant with the Healthy Homes standards.
- Our weatherboards from Weathertex are 100% natural and free from chemical additives. They are made of 97% timber and 3% wax for added water resistance so they last for many years.
Partnerships with like-minded companies
Optimising every stage of a build for sustainability is important, which is why partnering with eco-conscious companies is a great idea. In doing this, the entire build can be completed with sustainability in mind, even when it comes to material production.
Download the free Weathertex brochure.
At Genius Homes, we partner with innovative companies who share our beliefs and who seek to invest in our planet too. For example, choosing to partner with Weathertex was a natural step for us because their products have a better than zero carbon footprint, have a 25-year guarantee and use sustainably sourced materials.
Are prefab homes sustainable?
Not all prefab homes are made equal, so you’ll need to check with your prefab home builder on their approach to sustainability. It’s a good idea to ask about each of the points in this blog to get a clear idea of what their build process involves.
At Genius Homes, we build homes with sustainability at the core of our values. We aim to build happy, healthy homes for New Zealanders that last long into the future. It’s this forward-planning and belief in building for the future that drives us to be environmentally responsible. Our process minimises waste, integrates innovative technology and uses eco-friendly materials so that we can keep our environmental impact as low as possible.
We’ve committed to doing our part for the planet, which is why we design and build homes that are warm, healthy and dry, and built to last. We're constantly looking for ways to improve both the manufacturing process and the sustainability of a house once it becomes a home. We understand that this is just the beginning of a long journey towards environmental sustainability and we know there’s always more to be done. That’s why we always welcome new ideas, advocate for environmental action, and work hard every day to reduce our global impact on the planet.