How To Minimise The Environmental Impact Of Your Home
As a country known for its stunning scenery and landscapes, it’s hardly a surprise to learn that New Zealand consumers are now demanding better sustainable and environmental solutions from the companies they choose to do business with. The recent ban of single use plastic bags showed New Zealand’s willingness to prioritise sustainability as an important issue for the sake of future generations and the planet.
Growing consumer awareness has led to increasing questions about the sustainable practices of many industries. Often the thought of sustainability when building a new home focusses on renewable energy systems such as solar, however selecting the right builder can reduce the need for expensive third party ‘green’ systems. With over twenty years’ experience in New Zealand, G.J. Gardner Homes has developed a balanced approach to sustainability to ensure they protect the environment without compromising quality or comfort.
During the planning stage of any new home G.J.’s follows a concept known as the ‘4E Sustainability Model’. The model balances key drivers of sustainability to ensure cost, comfort, sustainability and good design are all incorporated as standard.
The 4E’s are:
Environment: This considers the impact of building materials on the environment. Understanding the life cycle of building materials is important, as many common products can differ in their long term performance or maintenance requirements. For example, clay bricks are often cited as being environmentally unfriendly given their high temperature manufacture process. However, when we consider clay as an all-natural material, with exceptionally low maintenance, little manufacture waste, fully recyclable and amongst the longest durability guarantees, their initial embodied energy is significantly offset across their long life cycle.
By focussing on environmental factors in the specification of building materials, G.J.’s look to only use those suppliers which will help embody good environmental practice in to the fabric of homes.
Energy: New Zealand homes are responsible for using approximately 13% of New Zealand energy consumption, and 10% of greenhouse gas emissions. With better design the ongoing environmental impact of homes can be reduced without occupant sacrifice. One of the simplest examples of energy focussed design is known as ‘Passive Design’, ensuring the house design and site layout optimise the use of free solar energy. By orientating and placing living areas in locations that will benefit from year round sunlight, or ensuring bedrooms are placed away from the late summer sun, the year round need for artificial heating or cooling is reduced. Not only does this reduce energy demands and greenhouse gas emissions, it also saves money too.
Economy: Many customers care for the environment and always want to understand the choices they make have a positive impact. However, many sustainable choices can be more expensive, reducing affordability of homes, or creating compromise in other choices within a home. This can unfortunately mean customers often leave out more expensive sustainable options such as solar, in favour of features which will promote the liveability of their home. At G.J.’s we understand that by making good choices through design and specification, good sustainability principles can be embodied into the home, remaining practical and affordable.
Emotion: This considers the impact on the liveability of a home in relation to sustainability. A home represents many things to its occupants: safety, security, family, happiness, memories and more. Sustainable principles should only serve to enhance the overall comfort, quality and durability of a home. As often the largest investment many people make, sustainability will always be sacrificed if the overall performance of a home is adversely affected in the pursuit of environmental responsibility.
With G.J. Gardner Homes, minimising the environmental impact of your new home is an automatic consideration and just one part of an extremely rewarding building journey. By carefully balancing environmental, energy, economic and emotional factors, G.J.s can help ensure your home is designed and built to the highest quality standards, whilst ensuring a minimal environmental impact for the protection of our planet for future generations.
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