Renovating? Why bother to go green?

Renovating Why bother to go green

Renovating is a daunting enterprise, more so if you have a mind to keep your alterations as environmentally-friendly as possible. Building regulations are also on the side of green building. Are you aware that certain alterations are regulated under the SANS10400 XA and the Energy Efficient Regulatory Framework? It’s encouraging to know that all your efforts will pay off in terms of efficiency and energy saving, and reducing your carbon footprint.

Let’s look at these obligatory regulations as well as some of the latest green building techniques and products. While it is true that some of the measures we’ll look at are more costly upfront, the long-term energy saving means home owners like you will recover those costs typically within 3-5 years. Also bear in mind that non-compliance can seriously impact the resale value of your home if and when the time comes.

Energy Saving is the Name of the Game
SANS10400 XA is a section of the National Building Regulations that was added in November 2011 to ensure any new developments or alterations to existing developments meet a defined standard in energy saving. The regulations laid out in SANS10400 XA are really good news as the goal is keep South Africa on track with the growing global trend in green building practices. And of course, most importantly, to reduce the pressure on our environment and resources.

According to the regulations laid out in SANS10400 XA, all new buildings must use solar heaters, heat pumps or an equivalent option; meet the minimum insulation requirements for ceilings, walls and windows; and be fitted with energy saving heating or air conditioning systems or mechanical ventilation systems. The regulations may not necessarily affect minor alterations but will certainly apply if you’re planning a major makeover or extensions to your existing residential property.

Taking Renovating to the EDGE
As non-compliance can have far-reaching effects – not just legally, but on your pocket too – it is advised that your engage a qualified EDGE professional to consult on your renovations. The EDGE Standard is a green building certification system for emerging markets, implemented in South Africa under the auspices of the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).

In order to meet the EDGE Standard, a building must demonstrate a 20% reduction in water and operational energy consumption as well as in the embodied energy of the construction materials when compared with typical local building practices. The good news is that you can use the EDGE software for free online. The application lists simple, practical water and energy saving measures; some you can put in place right away, and at little to no cost. Others will influence how you proceed with your home alterations, with a focus on long-term return on investment.

4 Green Building Tips

1. Insulate:
One simple way to make your home more energy efficient and save on future electricity costs is to install insulation in ceilings and walls; as stated previously this is now required for any additional rooms or buildings you construct. While you’re at it consider installing insulation around your geysers and hot water pipes too. A solution like ISOTHERM makes an excellent insulation choice as it is made from recycled plastic PET bottles; it not assists with passive thermal energy control but it helps the environment too. You can find an ISOTHERM installer by clicking here.

2. Recycle:
Another big trend in green building is the use of recycled materials which by their nature have a low energy co-efficient. For example, by reusing scrap steel you help save up to 75% on the energy that would have been required to produce that same steel from scratch. It also means less waste clogging our landfills.

3. Use Sustainable Materials:
Fresh materials such as timber must be FSC certified as per SANS10400 XA. This process is overseen in South Africa by the SABS in partnership with the Soil Association, an independent international certification body. This ensures the timber originates from planted forests that are responsibly managed with a view to sustainability.

4. See Clearly:
Glazing windows is another highly effective way to passively control thermal energy loss and gain and keep your home at a stable temperature year-round. And in the future you can look forward to Smart Glass, also known as electrochromic glass. Smart Glass is developed to tint during peak daylight hours and revert to clear at night; just imagine the savings on your heating and cooling costs in the long run.

Saving energy is the ultimate aim of going green. Consider that our buildings, be they residential or commercial structures, are among the main contributors to global warming. We owe it ourselves and the longevity of our planet to find a way to make them more efficient from the manner in which they are designed through the materials used to how the building is managed on a daily basis.

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