Green house. Green Living, Sustainable living concepts are known under a variety of terms based on different ecological thoughts. It is becoming increasingly common for homeowners to make a sustainable upgrade to their own four walls in order to reduce their impact on the environment and reduce long-term costs. In our guide you can find out how to live more sustainably and which possible green modernization methods there are and what their advantages are.
Do you want to live more sustainably and are wondering what options are available to you for the project? Do not worry. A “green house” is becoming more affordable and feasible for many families as new technologies are combined with historical methods. In this way, a wide variety of house types can be ecologically modernized. One of the simplest methods is to switch to 100 percent green electricity, which is produced exclusively from renewable energies. But that’s not the only way to live more sustainably. In this guide, we will introduce you to the conversion options for sustainable houses and what effect they have on the environment and your everyday life.
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Sustainable living: Looking to the future
In times of climate change, a “green house” is increasingly popular with families and homeowners who want to reduce their impact on the environment and prepare their homes accordingly for the future. The biggest advantage: By modernizing the house, a sustainable lifestyle can be implemented even more efficiently. A green house has many advantages for families who want to focus on more sustainability:
- lower renovation costs
- renewable and environmentally friendly building materials are used (environmental pollution decreases)
- healthier indoor climate
- high energy efficiency
- long-term investment (hardly any depreciation)
- Avoiding the use of hazardous or dangerous building materials
Due to these advantages, an eco-house is recommended to make a contribution to climate protection. It doesn’t matter how big the family or the building is. Each adjustment of the house reduces the environmental impact over a longer period of time, which has a positive effect on the entire lifestyle.
The various conversion options and building materials allow for this change, which will affect the whole family and future generations. This is one of the most important points when converting to a green house: carrying on the idea of sustainability. Your own children will experience directly what sustainability means and how it affects everyday life. This makes the house an investment for the offspring and for the environment. In order to realize this idea, you will find numerous conversion options and building materials in the following sections with which you can modernize your home sustainably.
Tip: There are a number of state subsidies for the sustainable upgrading of your own four walls. With these, you can save even more money in the long run.
Methods for effective energy generation & heat generation
Energy generation is of course one of the most important elements of a sustainable house. The aim of “Green Living” is to generate as much energy as possible independently. That doesn’t mean every home has to be built off the grid so you can live more sustainably. In many cases this is not possible, for example due to the location. However, it is possible to integrate various energy harvesting solutions into the home to generate some of the electricity on your own. One of the most important options is the installation of photovoltaic systems and a suitable power storage unit:
- Roof or garden installation of the modules possible
- low space consumption
- Power storage allows power usage on cloudy days, especially in winter
The use of photovoltaic systems runs completely by itself and you don’t actually have to do anything. They are among the best solutions for living more sustainably. You only have to reckon with slightly higher acquisition and installation costs, which you will recoup over the next few years.
But be careful: Photovoltaic systems only generate electricity and are therefore used for kitchen appliances or lighting. Heat for heating or hot water is obtained from solar thermal systems. The systems do not convert solar energy into electricity, but heat. Ideally, you combine the two systems if you want to live more sustainably as effectively as possible. Of course, you must not forget to install a new, environmentally friendly heating system. The following options are available for this.
- heat pump
- pellet stoves
Although you can use district heating, you should compare the relevant providers and whether it is worthwhile for them at all. The heat pump absorbs heat from the environment, for example the garden, and converts it for use in the house. This is why this heater is so popular, as hardly any resources are used. With wood and pellet stoves, climate-neutral heating is used, since only wood is used, which when burned only releases the same amount of CO2 into the environment as the tree absorbed before it was felled.
Water use in the sustainable home
In addition to energy generation and heating, sustainable water use is one of the essential points with which you can effectively remodel your house. First of all: Complete self-sufficiency with water is difficult, since efficient wastewater treatment is not possible on one’s own property. The risk of disease is just too high. Because of this, you can only collect water and use that as a supplement. In this case we are talking about rainwater, which can be used in a green house for the following areas:
- toilet flush
- To make the laundry
- garden watering
- conditionally as cleaning water
Rainwater is not suitable or permitted as drinking water. If you want to use rainwater, you need to equip your house with the following components:
- Cistern for rainwater
- rainwater pipes
- rainwater filter
- domestic waterworks
During installation, care must be taken to ensure that the lines for garden irrigation are branched off directly after the pump. Wondering why? Rainwater for the garden does not produce waste water, as is usual with domestic water for the toilet and washing. In addition, these lines are connected to the network within the house. Installing a domestic water system to collect rainwater requires a professional to ensure the system works as efficiently as possible. Find out more about government subsidies for feeding rainwater into your “green house”. This allows you to save a lot of money and live more sustainably at the same time.
Don’t forget insulation
One of the most important points when modernizing your four walls is sustainable insulation. Insulation has a significant impact on the energy efficiency of the building, as it protects against heat loss while effectively regulating the temperature throughout the year. In order to live more sustainably, you should think about replacing the insulation material. Best of all, the insulating properties of the available materials are comparable to those based on petroleum or minerals. Furthermore, they have important advantages:
- mostly untreated
- create a better indoor climate
- fully recyclable or compostable
- regionally available (shorter transport routes)
Suitable insulating materials have the following properties and thermal conductivity:
- Hemp: durable, not suitable for thermal insulation composite systems, thermal conductivity from 0.040 to 0.045 W/mK
- Wood fibres: moisture-regulating, suitable for thermal insulation composite systems, thermal conductivity from 0.040 to 0.052 W/mK
- Jute: resistant to mold and pests, regulates humidity, thermal conductivity from 0.037 to 0.040 W/mK
- Cork: resistant to mold and pests, hardly rots, breathable, ideal sound insulation, thermal conductivity from 0.040 to 0.045 W/mK
- Reed: resistant to mold and pests, regulates moisture, significantly heavier, thermal conductivity from 0.040 to 0.065 W/mK
- Seagrass: open to diffusion, pleasant indoor climate, sound-insulating, does not rot, thermal conductivity from 0.039 to 0.046 W/mK
- Straw: open to diffusion, pleasant indoor climate, ideal for lightweight buildings, thermal conductivity from 0.051 to 0.055 W/mK
- Cellulose: inexpensive, ideal blow-in insulation, cannot be composted, thermal conductivity of 0.040-0.045 W/mK
You can have the insulation replaced throughout the house by a professional. Make sure that the insulation used so far is disposed of in the most environmentally friendly way possible. They often have substances that could have a negative impact on the environment.
Note: Wood wool is another insulating material, especially in the form of plaster base plates, which are used indoors and outdoors. They are not as effective as wood fiber but can be used as an alternative when wood fiber insulation is unsuitable.
Sustainable building materials: guide
Certain materials are not only required for insulation. There are certain materials that are much better for a “green house” than plasterboard or concrete. These are building materials that have been used for thousands of years and have been replaced in the modern world by materials that are particularly suitable for fast panel construction. The sustainable building materials are not only used for the shell. They are used as floor coverings, for walls and other purposes such as roofing:
- Wood: as a basic structure, for roof shingles, interior design, repairs, climate-neutral, domestic, renewable
- Clay: suitable for the entire building, enables a pleasant room climate, free of pollutants, pest-resistant, native
- Thatch: ideal as a roof covering, water-repellent, storm-proof, frost-resistant, regulates the climate in the house.
In addition to these building materials, there are also numerous natural stones that you can use to convert your own four walls. These are particularly suitable as floor coverings, for modernizing masonry or for implementing paths. In addition, they have a high design value, as the natural stones are processed in a variety of ways that have a significant impact on the ambience of your green house. Sustainability does not mean living in an environmentally friendly way without style and defying climate protection. The following natural stones are particularly suitable for this purpose:
As you can see, you are spoiled for choice if you want to use natural stones. As an alternative to these, you can also bet on bricks. Bricks are robust, easy to work with due to their shape and particularly durable. They ensure effective soundproofing. If you want to do without further insulation, you should think about using bricks, as they have excellent thermal insulation properties. Due to their open porosity, they have a positive effect on the room climate, since moisture does not accumulate.
Note: Cork is not only suitable as a building material for insulation. The material from the cork oak is also ideal as a floor covering, especially if natural footfall sound insulation is required.
Foundation: sustainable possible?
When choosing building materials for a green house, the question often arises as to whether concrete can be used. Modern houses are mostly implemented with concrete foundations, as they offer many advantages. Above all, protection against soil moisture is provided by concrete foundations, which makes them the first choice for many projects. However, you don’t always have to resort to concrete when you need a foundation. This is especially true for garden houses or a garage that you can implement sustainably. An increasingly common alternative to the classic concrete foundation is the so-called screw foundation, which works as follows:
- With a screw foundation, the building has no contact with the ground. This means that if you want to build a garden shed later, for example, it is raised so that no soil moisture reaches the building.
- The distance to the ground is made possible by ground screws, the size, diameter and load-bearing capacity of which depend on the type of building and its dimensions. The bolts are driven into the ground and together they form the basis for the raised foundation.
- The building is now erected on the ground screws. The look is reminiscent of the stilt houses that were often built in the past near lakes.
The biggest advantage besides not using concrete is the soil quality. The ground screws do not close the ground and can be individually adjusted in height. As a result, soil does not have to be removed, filled in or levelled. As a result, the structure is already significantly more sustainable. Although you can not equip an existing house with a screw foundation. It is only useful if you are building something new and want to avoid using a concrete foundation. It would be ideal, for example, for a small second home or a gazebo on the property.
Green facility in detail
A further development of sustainable building materials is the use of furniture and other furnishings that are also made of the materials already presented. Green furnishings are already a good step in the right direction, even if you live in a rented house or an apartment. Many of them can be replaced with little effort. Although the purchase is usually a little more expensive than models typically available in retail stores, the costs pay off over time. In particular, energy-efficient household appliances should be mentioned here, including:
- Washing machine
These devices are essential purchases for many households. In order to live more sustainably, these should definitely be selected in the following energy efficiency classes:
Class A has been the most efficient class since the label change in March 2021 – after that it goes directly to the letters B, C, D, etc. The plus classes (A+, A++ and A+++), which stood for high energy efficiency in the past, will no longer be used as a designation for household appliances in the future. You should also think about whether small household appliances are necessary at all.
This is easily recognizable using the example of kettles or a coffee machine. You can easily prepare tea, coffee or hot water in the pot. You save energy and water, because when cooking in a pot, only the required amount of liquid is usually used. Too much water is often boiled unnecessarily in the kettle. So think carefully about which devices you can replace. Furthermore, you should preferably leave furniture and furnishings with a high plastic content on the side. This also applies to artificial leather if it is not made from organic materials. Vegan leather is recommended as long as it is of the following types:
- wine leather
- mushroom leather
- cork leather
- Kombucha leather
- pineapple leather
- cactus leather
Apple and paper leather also belong to the vegan leather types, but these are processed together with PU or other plastics. For this reason, they are less suitable for a couch or armchair if you want to live more sustainably. Furthermore, natural stone or wood are better than plastic imitations for surfaces and worktops in the kitchen and bathroom, for example. Before you buy, check exactly which materials are involved and do without plastics for a “green house”. These alternatives alone give you a glimpse of how you can set up your living and utility rooms in a “greener” way. The following tips will also help:
- do without tropical woods
- observe seals of approval and certificates such as FSC
- buy recycled or used furniture
- avoid old electronics
- preferably high quality (are more durable)
Tip: If possible, you should avoid using a dryer at all. Instead, set up a spot in the garden, yard, or inside your home that is suitable for clotheslines or drying racks.
Yes, you can also make your garden sustainable. Typical garden concepts such as a perfectly manicured English lawn often have a negative impact on the environment. The reason for this is the following points:
- Displacement of native wild plants
- they are monocultures
- Food plants for insects cannot flower
- in some cases land degradation
Depending on the type of garden, these are not sustainable concepts that can have a positive impact on the environment. Exceptions are, of course, heavily used areas, for example a lawn. In this case, such planting is preferable, so that the soil is better protected from the load. But not only lawns are unsuitable for a sustainable lifestyle. There are numerous things that you can adjust in the garden to create an oasis of green:
- Avoid plastic planters
- create compost
- settle beneficial insects
- set up wild corners to promote diversity in the garden
- Hedges and trees as enclosure or privacy screen
- Fasten nest boxes for birds
- completely without peat soil
- Use natural fertilizer
- Use quality garden tools
It is particularly important not to use chemical pesticides and to cultivate non-native plants. If you want to live more sustainably and have a garden, tropical plants in particular are difficult to integrate.
Tip: It is essential to avoid sealed surfaces outside the house, as they prevent rain and melt water from penetrating the ground. This has a negative effect on groundwater recharge in your region.