Energy is all around us- the ways in which to capture & store it is a giant can of worms only scratched on the surface. For example - An idea from Japan, as expected. Piezoelectric tiles are already being used to generate electricity. Subways, airports, malls, all these places are crossed by millions of people a day. And only by walking, they already have the needed ‘power’. Or can we make biofuel from beer waste? Of course, and brewers in Germany and California are already doing it. The French and the Italian, on the other hand, are making ethanol from surplus wine. Now we only need to define ‘surplus’. The point is this is an ever revolving subject- unveiling idea after idea of how to create, store and preserve energy. How exciting!

Energy companies as well as governmental institutions come up with great solutions at very large scales. Of course, the materializing of all these projects and discussions might take a while, so let’s look into some interesting ways to build greener, generate energy & reuse product until the ‘big’ guys make their decisions:

10 Simple GOING GREEN building ideas:

1. Location Location, Location: While buying property for yourself, take a note of couple of things that you must foresee before moving in. Firstly, avoid building a south facing home. This will keep your home cool as it minimizes sun exposure. Secondly, avoid building home in environmentally sensitive locations such as earthquake or hurricane or flood prone areas. Thirdly, check if public transportation is easily available and local grocery shop is not that far away. This will help you avoid taking your own vehicle every time and will reduce your travel time.

2. Smaller is Better: If deciding on the size of your new build. A small home built with eco-friendly techniques is going to have smaller environmental impact as against a large home. A house that is too large is likely to cost more to heat and cool. Try to keep the place manageable and cost effective. If you are planning to extend your family and bring in few relatives, you need to put proper resources and accommodation in place.

3. Energy Efficient Equipment: Energy labels are optional for appliances manufactured in South Africa. Goods with no label could be inefficient appliances that will cost you more in the long run. If you don’t see a label, ask the sales person or try to find the rating by Googling the model. You can do it with a smartphone at the shop or research it before you go. The current South African label gives a rating from A down to G – with A being the best – for refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines and electric ovens. For most appliances, insist on an A-rated appliance, they are not difficult to find. (Old refrigerators in your house may be the inefficient equal of a G-rated fridge.) In addition to the letter rating, the label should carry an energy consumption number in kilowatt hours. It is often more useful to compare this number between models than to compare the letter rating

European Union Energy label and Energy Star are also well known energy labels from Europe & U.S> for more info:

4. Proper Insulation: Insulation is one of the most important things that you need to consider while building a green home or adding on a room. Heating and cooling account for 50% of your home’s energy consumption. Air leaks such as around windows, door and duct work is responsible for building’s heat loss. Don’t let heating and cooling of your interior spaces air go waste through improper insulation. Proper insulation will not only reduce your energy consumption but will bring down your electricity bills substantially. Our concrete wall system operates at 320% better R value & its 4 times stronger than a standard cavity double brick wall- what’s more is there is no land fill waste during your build as well as it is more cost effective.

R value= Measurement used for the transfer of heat & cold through your walls. Higher R value = slower transfer which means the house is cooler in summer and warmer in winter.

5. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Reduce your need for buying new products that are not environment friendly. Reuse your old material such as wood floors, doors, windows in your next home. Recycled materials such as recycled glass, aluminium, recycled tile, reclaimed lumber, recycled plastic can be used in green home building especially on your interiors.

6. Use Sustainable Building Materials: If building a green home is your goal, then using environmentally or eco-friendly products should be on your list which can reduce the impact of construction on the environment. Each and every part of your house such as roofing material, building material, cabinets, counters and insulation to your flooring should be environmentally friendly. Use products such as reclaimed lumber, recycled plastic, recycled glass or natural products such as bamboo, cork and linoleum which are made of natural, renewable materials.

7. Install Solar Panels: Solar energy is clean and renewable source of energy. Solar panels are an emerging and hot technology for people who want to utilize the natural power all around us, the sun. Solar panels may be expensive at first, but the long-term savings you can put into your pocket is a stunning example of the benefits of turning your life from black too green. The location of your house and the way you have constructed solar panels can determine how much power you can collect. By taking advantage of solar power you can bring down your energy consumption and supply excess energy, if any, to your utility company. Also, government grants, incentives and tax breaks are huge bonus to those who want to use solar power in their home.

8. Energy Star Windows: Energy efficient windows labeled as ENERGY STAR windows are new player in window market and are much more energy efficient than normal windows. The ratings for these windows determine how energy efficient they will be. The lower the rating, the more energy efficient are your windows. The energy savings provided by these windows are enough to cover the added cost per window.

9. Rainwater Harvesting Systems and Tankless Water Heaters: Install a rainwater harvesting system while building your green home to collect rainwater from roofs and then storing it in a tank. The collected water can then be used for other purposes such as toilets and sprinkler systems. Rain barrels are one of the most common methods of rainwater harvesting being used today.

With tankless water heaters, you need not wait for the water to get heated. Tankless water heaters heat only that much water that is needed as it is passed through electric coil. This gives you twin benefits. Firstly, it eliminates excess energy costs as it heats up only that much amount of water that is needed and secondly, you can get ample storage place by eliminating the hot water tank.

10. Eco-Friendly Lighting: Both LED and CFL cost more upfront but use less energy and last longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. Since they offer significant cost savings in the long run, they can be ideal for your new green home.