Choose Smart Materials

Overview

Designing your home to reduce how much energy will be needed to operate it and keep it comfortable is fantastic.  However, sometimes we don’t give enough thought to the environmental impact of the materials used to actually build or renovate your home.  The building materials in the external fabric, comprise the vast majority of energy resources and cubic mass that go into the construction of a home and as such significantly contribute to the ecologoical footprint of the building.  So how can you reduce this impact?

So how does it work

In addition to the design of your home, such as its orientation and shading, the walls, roof and floor are critical elements in making your home comfortable.  These insulate your home from the external elements by slowing the transfer of heat into or out of the internal space. 

Selecting building materials, based on the following, will help to both minimise the need to heat and cool your home, or, when you do need to do this, help to maximise their benefit:

  • The highest insulating properties possible, whilst also considering their level of embodied energy (the sum total of the energy necessary to produce the product – raw material extraction, transport, manufacture, assembly, installation)
  • The ability to be recycled productively and safely

 

Examining the full life-cycle of these materials  – where they have come from, how they were produced, their operational properties and how they will be disposed (think asbestos!) gives you a basis to choose building materials that have minimal impact on our environment:

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A lifecycle approach

It can be difficult to make decisions about the materials to use in a building project. Whether a new build or renovation, the more you delve into the selection of your building materials, the more complex it appears. Obviously value for money, performance, aesthetics and durability are all important elements to include in your selection criteria. What is maybe not always thought of is what the impact on the environment from the sourcing of that material, its manufacture and also what will happen at the end of its life.

Find out how different materials perform

Different building materials are good for different things. Some are great for capturing and storing heat whilst others have fantastic insulation properties. All of which can help make your home more comfortable.

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