Given the increasing awareness of climate change and the desire to do something about it, sustainable housing is a priority across the world and new technology is major driving force in this push to be more responsible stewards of our planet.
Designers and homeowners are increasingly adopting sustainable housing innovations in pursuit of establishing a net-zero home. The term “net-zero” refers to a home or building that creates as much energy as it needs through renewable sources. Net-zero homes are meant to be as energy-efficient as possible; however, many generate their own energy through a combination of wind, solar, geothermal and other sources of energy.
A net-zero home may be ideal, but the goal for many is simply a more sustainable living situation. The following sustainable housing innovations are being adopted in pursuit of these ideas.
Owners of non-sustainable housing don’t have to tear down their existing structure and start from scratch. There are a number of retrofitting measures that can easily make conventional housing more sustainable.
Simple fixes like installing energy-efficient windows and appliances can go a long way to reducing energy waste. Home owners can also improve their insulation and eliminate the loss of temperature-controlled air.
2) Home Energy Storage
Given the realities of home-scale clean energy production, a hybrid-grid system with energy storage is essential to make the most of clean energy production.
Homes with a wind or solar power system require a way to either store excess power for later use or sell surplus energy back to the grid. With such a system, solar energy can be used regardless of whether the sun is out. A system that includes energy storage could result in significant cost savings during peak demand times.
Some high-end systems can allow a homeowner to essentially go off-grid. If sufficient energy is captured, a high-end system converts the home into a microgrid, allowing occupants to continue living comfortably without external power or a generator. Energy storage could mean using solar power around the clock, during power outages and emergencies.
As an added bonus, home energy storage contributes to a more stable grid.
3) Smart Thermostats
Programmable thermostats have been around for decades. However, most systems have an awkward user interface, and as a result, programming features often go unused.
Smart thermostats make programming much easier and even include automated features that adjust temperature settings without user inputs. Automated adjustments could be made based on location, external temperature and humidity data. Some high-end systems use geofencing technology to adjust temperature settings based on when home owners are inside or outside the ‘fence’.
4) Portable Home Solar Solutions
While installing solar panels on the roof of a home helps to make housing more sustainable, there are major issues with this approach. First, installation can be cost-prohibitive, especially since most homeowners need to hire a contractor to install a solar system. Second, if a roof is in need of repair solar panels may have to be removed before repairs can be made. Third, once solar panels are installed it is difficult to remove them if the homeowner moves and wants to take their system with them.
Potable home solar solutions address these issues by being more affordable, easy to install, easy to uninstall and easy to move.
5) Minimalist Homes
A massive foyer with tall ceilings might impress visitors and a large dining area might be convenient for entertaining guests, but all that space must be heated, illuminated and otherwise maintained. A more sustainable alternative is a small, minimalist home.
These homes can be built into a landscape to reduce the need for building materials. For instance, a small home could be built on bedrock, taking advantage of that fact that it doesn’t need a deep foundation.