For many people, the concept of eco-friendly housing is a new concept. It seems that it is only in the past few years that concern over the environmental impact of our housing has become more mainstream. In today’s society in the UK, we are seeing more and more people looking to live in a ‘greener’ way, reducing their carbon footprint and encouraging sustainability and the conservation of the earth in the way that they are living their lives. From zero carbon homes to converted shipping containers, to retro-fitting older houses, increasing numbers of people are looking for environmentally friendlier homes.
When it comes to eco-friendly housing, however, this is a concept that goes back right to the beginning of civilisation. The ancient Greeks and the Romans are well-known for their sustainable housing, created often out of local natural materials, and harvesting natural, sustainable resources to help it to function properly.
We seem to have hit a dip in the construction of eco-friendly houses from the Industrial Revolution onwards, as we have had more and more access to technology, mains electrics, and water and put an emphasis more on creating high quantities of low-cost housing. However, in recent years, we have seen a rise in ‘green consciousness’, and this is being reflected in the amount of and quality of eco-friendly housing that is available.
Eco-Friendly Features of Ancient Housing
In the times of the Romans and the Ancient Greeks, it is unlikely that housing was designed to specifically be ‘eco-friendly’, but more to make use of the resources that they had close by. By using local wood and stone, for example, they are already cutting down their carbon footprint, and, as a consequence, constructing in a way that does not damage the environment.
Other eco-friendly features that were also employed include the location of the house – positioned so that the house got the right amount of direct sunlight, for example. The Romans also created their own rainwater harvesting systems, recycled old parts of derelict houses in new builds, and used crushed unusable ceramics as an ingredient in cement.
Eco-Friendly Housing in the 21st Century
The 21st century has seen a surge in interest amongst both governments and the general public in creating more eco-friendly housing. This is mainly centred around reducing the house’s carbon footprint, using recycled resources, saving water and energy, and generally creating less waste.
There are several eco-friendly housing options that are available.
- Tiny homes – usually classed as a home that is between 100ft² and 400ft², reducing everything from the amount of energy that is required to heat or cool it, to reducing the number of materials that are required to build it.
- Passive houses – designed to be highly energy-efficient, these were first constructed in the late 1980s. Aspects such as superinsulation, ventilation, solar heating, and renewable energy sources are considered during the design process.
- Prefab housing – houses made in factories that are then delivered to the site of the house can be eco-friendly in a number of ways. The fact that they are built in a factory means that ‘greener’ materials can be used to build it, less water used in its construction, they are built in a shorter amount of time (thus, cutting down on overall energy used, traffic, etc.), with fewer materials, and up to a 52% reduction in construction waste.
- Recycled material houses – houses such as converted shipping containers, that use recycled materials, cutting down on waste, and adapting it into a modular home.
Converted Shipping Container Homes – the Eco-Friendly Option
When it comes to creating an eco-friendly home, a converted shipping container is a great solution for two main reasons – the process involves re-purposing a material that would otherwise go to waste, and they can also be built pre-fab, giving you the ‘green’ credentials of both.
Shipping containers are essentially large steel building blocks that can be joined together side-by-side or stacked on top of each other to create a home. They can then be well-insulated to keep the outside temperature out, saving you energy on heating or cooling.
You can also consider adding double – or triple-glazed windows to the shipping container home. This not only helps to allow natural light in, but also helps to prevent heat – or noise – getting in our out.
Your shipping container home can also be cladded or decorated with local materials and eco-friendly paint, and solar panels and rainwater harvesting systems also added.
As the world grows more and more aware of the need for large numbers of eco-friendly homes, we are likely to see more and more technology to support their development.