Sustainable Homes for Now and the Future
Our planet is rapidly running out of resources. The world’s population is starting to exceed Mother Earth’s capacity to support it. By now, we all know the importance of recycling and other resource conservation techniques. More and more of us are trying to reduce our carbon footprint by buying fuel-efficient vehicles. Many of us are also striving to reduce the amounts of natural gas, electricity and water that we use in our homes. We’re lowering our thermostats in winter and raising them in summer. We’re buying appliances with high energy-efficiency ratings, and adding extra insulation to our homes. We’re planting more drought-resistant grasses, flowers and shrubs, and we’re watering our lawns and gardens less. We’re replacing our homes’ drafty windows with energy-efficient models, and we’re installing solar panels on our roofs.
So, many of us are already doing a lot to help conserve our remaining resources. Even so, there’s still much to do. We can (and should) start building and living in sustainable homes. It’s something we need to do now and in the future, so that we DO have a future. Not terribly long from now, sustainable housing will be indispensable to humanity’s survival.
Sustainable homes are built with recycled and/or natural materials that are locally sourced. They incorporate green technology that’s designed to conserve energy and reduce water consumption. Many are positioned in a way that lets them maximize the physical advantages of their sites.
For example, most of today’s homes use far too much water. Recent severe droughts in California and the southeastern United States have dramatically pointed out that we need to improve the ways we manage and use this precious resource. It’s not just a matter of installing water-conserving toilets, faucets and shower heads, although they do contribute to addressing the issue. A properly designed home rainwater harvesting system (collecting rainwater to drink, bathe in, and cook with) provides quality water and conserves a rapidly dwindling but essential natural resource.
Still not motivated to investigate sustainable housing? In addition to helping to decrease the amounts of water we use, sustainable designs are built with recycled and/or locally available construction materials. This lowers the burden on landfills, reduces our dependence on petroleum products, decreases deforestation, and helps keep construction costs as low as possible. Sustainable housing is also oriented in a way that takes maximum advantage of the shade, prevailing breezes and other physical aspects of the site. Construction techniques and materials reduce the amount of cold air that enters a home in winter and deter air-conditioned air from escaping in summer. Solar technology is often used to reduce fossil fuel energy consumption. Two examples of sustainable housing include container homes and some of the prefab homes being made.
Yes, it’s important to buy a fuel-efficient vehicle and use all those other conservation techniques we mentioned earlier. But building and living in sustainable housing is a crucial key to protecting our environment and conserving our vital natural resources. It’s not just a passing fad – it’s essential for humanity’s survival.