How to create Sustainable Homes that can result in a butterfly effect at a Macro-level?
We have seen life change over the last few months and learned the meaning of essentialism and minimalism, the pandemic has taught us lessons which will last for a lifetime. The Covid-19 pandemic has made us more inclined to make sustainable choices in our daily lives. Then why should your home be unsustainable, all of us might not be in positions of power to lead the change at a macro level but we can lead the change in our homes where we spend more than 12 hours a day. The choices made at the micro-level by making each home sustainable will have a butterfly effect at the macro-level.
How can we make our homes more sustainable-
-Save Water: India has around 4% of the world’s water resources, so imagine with a population of 1.3 Billion how long will it take us to exhaust these resources with increasing population and demand. We need to install rainwater harvesting tanks in each household and conserve rainwater from going into the drains if each house can have a 25,000 lts rainwater harvesting tank, imagine the scale of water that can be saved and the number of water tankers that can be avoided on the roads. Rainwater harvesting pit is a start towards sustainability but we need to do more to avoid depletion of the natural resources in the cities. It will be a worthy investment to construct a rainwater storage tank instead of buying water or digging deeper bore-wells.
-Save Energy: Switching to LED is the first step towards energy conservation it will save you 3 times more energy than a CFL bulb. You can also replace your old pumps and motors will new energy-efficient motors. BLDC fans come with a lot of new features and also help in energy savings than a normal ceiling fan. Natural lighting and cooling must be taken care of during the design of the home our idea should be to utilize and maximize the natural sunlight and air circulation. Provision for good ventilation is the key to sustainable design.
-Generate Green Power: Sun rises everywhere and each home has an opportunity to generate its own power using the sun, solar power is a gift to humanity. We can avoid using fossil fuels powered energy we receive from the gird, we can replace a few units of energy in the grid with solar power and each home replacing few units will create a substantial macro effect in the long run for future generations. In the future, by adding Li-ion batteries we can make each home a mini powerhouse and form micro-grids that can be connected to the main grid. Electric vehicles will also make this smart grid more workable, we can tap into the idle battery capacities of the EV’s in the future when grids and homes become smarter. EV’s will act as smart girds battery banks as we make the slow and steady switch towards renewables, smart grids, smart homes, and electric vehicles.
-Plant Trees for Future Generations: We must plant trees for future generations and make the cities more breathable and liveable for future generations. You can take a pledge to plant 1 tree for each member of your family and make your home much greener and contribute to society. If living in apartments there are a few programs that plant a tree on your behalf and issue a certificate of your carbon offset.
-Indoor Plants instead of Air Purifiers- Indoor plants that can purify air will be a good replacement high-cost Air Purifiers. There are many species of plants that can be utilized for indoor air purification and they are effective and also increase the beauty and harmony of the place.
-Bio-Mass Degenerators or Biogas- The concept of bio-mass is not new to India but it has been mainly focused on sustainable farms and model villages. We now have equipment available that can be used to generate biogas that can be used for cooking purposes as a supplement to the LPG, countries like the USA have good products available for mass-scale utilization and in the coming year these products may come to India and see adoption by a niche segment.
-Sustainable Materials During Construction- We must try to reduce the carbon footprint during the construction phase, by sourcing locally available and sustainable materials and reducing the wastage during construction. We can do this by optimizing the design, supply, and build phases to reduce the wastage of materials, resources, and time. The construction company must analyze the carbon footprint during construction and try to reduce it or even offset it.
-Grow your own Greens using Hydroponics- An evolving trend recently has been to grow your own greens by using hydroponics, which uses lesser and recirculated water. It saves water and also at the same time give you clean and organic produce. Few companies are coming up with DIY kits or setups for hydroponic farming, it is both scaled and suitable option for homeowners that have space and open area constraints. It can be set up on a rooftop or balcony, not all homeowners have the luxury of open gardens in the cities.
There are a lot of other steps you can take at an individual or community level like promoting recycling and reduce the use of single-use plastics, etc that can help us make earth more sustainable for the future generations but as always change starts at the individual and micro-level will always be sustained rather than a macro-level and top-down approach. So, let's begin to make each home more sustainable.
Author- Yashwant, Founder of Amplify Mart- Design, Supply Build Solutions for Home Construction and Home Improvement.