We created this house with the site in mind. “Green building” works with nature, not against it. We designed the house to use natural materials that minimize environmental impact while adding to the aesthetic quality of the house.
Choosing a building site:
Clearing virgin land or using a ‘green’ site, that acts as a carbon sink is the least favourable option. We chose a “brown” (previously developed) site and chose to improve it.
Living close to work, amenities, public transport:
We choose our site so we could walk, bike or bus to local food markets, shops and parks. We work out of our home for a big part, saving the environmental cost of driving to work. If you are going to build a new home, site location provides the first step in an environmentally friendly and energy efficient design.
Orientation of the house:
Although it was a huge challenge as our view is northeast and the street is southwest, we did orient the home to optimize solar and wind and make maximum use of the elements. We provided for large overhangs, natural ventilation, and natural light when we designed our home.
Carefully consider size:
We kept re-designing the house to achieve the smallest footprint that we thought would suit us best (having two children and two home offices). A small footprint with thoughtful design conserves energy and resources, when it comes to building it as well as living in it. We tried to design big, rather than build big. We definitely designed for how we live, with efficient use of space and no wasted rooms.
Included in our design were well placed outdoor rooms, including an outside courtyard which is south-facing and allows us to grow vegetables on it. We will also have organic gardens and a composting system. We will plant trees for shading, and we have planted xeriscape plants, and use drip irrigation and rainwater harvesting.