Traditional Kerala homes were more environment friendly than our modern homes, as we used building materials (like laterite stones, wood, lime plaster etc.) that were available closer to the site and created a self-sustaining system with well water sources and house ponds, had kitchen waste pits that served as garden manure sources, planted medicinal and vegetable gardens etc. Today, we rely on commercially purchased high-energy building materials like concrete and steel and depend on public energy and water distribution system for our needs. This naturally creates a negative impact on the environment.
An Environment Friendly home is one that has a healthy internal environment without adding too much impact on the environment by utilizing renewable resources. This can be achieved by the following methods-
- Using locally available natural building materials for construction.
- Relying less on electrical lighting and heating by having more natural sunlight and ventilation by proper placement and provision of windows.
- Installing rainwater harvesting systems to offset some of the water needs in the house.
- Installing compost pits to generate cooking fuel and manure.
- Having solar panels or micro wind turbines to generate electricity from renewable sources.
- Installing solar water heaters to minimize electricity consumption.
- Separating Biodegradable and Non-biodegradable waste to enable recycling and proper disposal.
Apart from decreasing the harmful impact on the environment, an Environment Friendly 'Green Home' reduces operational costs in the long run by saving electricity and water; and also by maintaining a healthier internal environment.
So, how do we determine if a house is truly- 'Green'? Eco-friendly houses are evaluated on several parameters before being given a green rating-
- Site planning and eco-friendly building design.
- Preservation and protection of top soil and landscape during construction.
- Heating, air-conditioning, ventilation, lighting and electrical and water heating systems.
- Optimization of building design and structure to reduce demand for conventional energy.
- Integration of renewable energy sources to generate energy.
- Water and waste management.
- Selection of ecologically sustainable materials for construction.
- Indoor environmental quality (indoor thermal and visual comfort and air quality).
- Conservation of soil during construction and proper top soil for vegetative growth.
- Renewal energy-based water heating system such as solar water heaters.
- (Courtesy: Business Today)
Giving due consideration to these aspects while constructing your House in Kerala; or even providing them in your existing house; will improve the 'Green aspect' of your living environment!