2015 turned out to be the hottest year in recorded history breaking all records of just the year before. This year the temperature is expected to rise even further. Effects of global warming have already taken a toll on the Arctic atmosphere. Greater than half of Greenland’s surface ice has melted resulting in rising fears over rapidly increasing sea level. These statistics are no longer news to us. We are already aware of the severity of climate change. Human need and human greed have turned this once green planet into a cosmic body clothed in dust, smoke and every other kind of pollution.
Only time can tell whether this is now a cataclysm waiting to happen or, with several measures already in place and continuously being thought of, a disaster averted in the eleventh hour. Meanwhile, we need to brace ourselves and prepare our homes to counter the ill effects of the damages already done. While doing so we also need to ensure that no further injury is inflicted on this sick planet of ours.
Some very smart moves are already in place to counter the adverse effects of changing climate conditions and to make our houses more environment friendly. After all, eco conscious living is the need of the hour and is not a fanciful dream. The following suggestions would help you do the same in your home. We are all going to reap the benefits of every small step taken by each one of us to live in an ecologically responsible way.
Harness the power of sun. Choose to install photovoltaic solar panels on your roof, terrace or garden. Do the same in your office building and other commercial premises. Build Different used the sloping roofs to install solar panels for this house. With these in place you can,
- considerably reduce green house gas emissions,
- generate your own electricity and sell the excess back to the grid,
- save on the utility bills,
- opt for attractive incentives currently on offer by many national governments.
Solar power is no longer just an alternative source of energy. As a primary source of energy if it is still not viable in your area, see if you can utilise the same to partly satisfy your needs. Seek expert help for first time installation. Install only materials certified by competent authorities. This choice itself is going to pay you large dividends in the months and years to come and help us all on the way.
Use biodegradable construction materials as far as you can to build your residential premises, shop or office building. These are generally termed as green materials for they do not cause any damage to the nature like many of their synthetic counterparts. Recyclable polymer materials, natural fibre, biodegradable concrete, recycled fly ash etc all fall into this category. Take cues from ancient building techniques and see how our ancestors used eco friendly materials like jute, choir, bamboo, terracotta, lime mortar etc to build their houses many of which defied the test of time.
Take note of the local practices too. See how sod roofs, thatches and walls made of reed like grasses etc create a naturally insulated home. Consult with your architect and ask him to seek means of incorporating these environment friendly materials in your building.
Use energy efficient lighting like led (Light Emitting Diodes) bulbs. They do not cause building up of any heat and are free of toxic mercury too. Switch off the lights when a room is not in use. In such places as corridors, gymnasiums and terraces make use of the latest low voltage lightings that can save electricity without causing dim looking interior. These can be used in your garden too without reducing the aesthetic qualities of your outdoor entertainment zone.
In day time, make use of large windows and sky light installations to brighten up the interiors of your room. Use chic lighting fixtures, but shy away from unnecessary fixtures like ambient lighting, ceiling mounted spot lights etc where they are not needed. This way you will successfully resist the temptation of switching them on all at once which might be too great to overcome at times.
Getting clean drinkable water is still an elusive dream in certain parts of the world. Irresponsible use, rapid urbanisation and several other reasons are lowering the groundwater level. Water pollution is also causing great health hazards. Rainwater or snowmelt harvesting can be a solution to many of these concerns. You can install simple rainwater harvesting system on the roof of your house or in a corner of your backyard. This can be pumped in the pipeline and used in all kinds of household work and gardening. The tank would require periodic cleaning.
If this water is used for drinking or cooking food then you should consider utilising a quality filter. Note that natural rain water is clean enough, but when stored for days in the tank it could result in breeding of harmful microbes.
Water recycling is, on the other hand, a costlier proposition. Many would not consider using it for drinking considering its source. Sewage water is thoroughly treated in this case and in many places made potable. It can be utilised for other purposes at home if not for direct consumption.
A couple of years ago a huge controversy broke out about London’s Gherkin skyscraper or, more appropriately, regarding its glass curtain. Glass exteriors are no longer considered a stylish option. On the other hand, they are often blamed for the rising city temperature. Well, the jury is still out on that. But over utilisation of glass and metals like steel may turn your own building into a green house, trapping the heat inside without adequate time to cool off naturally.
Sun dried bricks, bamboo mats, timber structure, calcinated phosphor-gypsum panels, epoxy resin, clay tiles are once again in vogue especially in those places that are experiencing severe heat wave every summer. Show similar tact in choosing insulation and paints for the exterior walls and roof. Consider insulating your walls with asbestos, natural fibro sheet, timber or tiles which cause less stress on the environment.
Heat pumps move heat from the hotter area of a house to a colder one. With this in place heat can be transferred from cool outdoors to the interior of the building and vice versa. It is more energy efficient than the regular air conditioners. Solar powered heat pumps are also available now requiring no conventional sources of electricity at all. Advanced heat pumps come with dehumidifiers. This can be used in conjunction with radiant floor heating system too.
Consider installing eco friendly wind turbines that will reap you same benefits as those derived from the use of solar energy. You can meet up all your heating and cooling needs, outdoor lighting etc by using these. Moreover, you can store electricity for a calmer day. Domestic wind turbines can be pole mounted or building mounted. Pole mounted ones have greater capacity and efficiency of producing electricity. You can also think of installing a biomass boiler if your home needs a new one. But there seems to be concerns about their effectiveness and durability. So be careful during your purchase.
Every sapling that you decide to plant and care for is a precious gift for this world, for all of us. Urban buildings have no longer premises large enough to go for elaborate gardening. Try to make use of every square inch of the available space. Use interior gardening and green roofing. These will also help keeping your interior cool in hot weather and warm in winter days. If you still retain a patch of green land, then utilise that to create a beautiful garden and outdoor space for your family.