The impact of climate change when building a home

Climate change is the slow change of climatic patterns that occur all over the world. It is characterised by an annual increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as a result of constant use of fossil fuels to generate energy and produce tangible products that surround us. Construction is also a contributor to climate change.

Ideally, architects should be designing houses in such a way so that they don’t produce emissions that impact our environment. Unfortunately, most of the houses emit greenhouse gases on a large scale which has a huge impact on climate change.

Passive house designs can help reduce the amount of energy used when building a home and also maintain a comfortable and healthy environment, which in turn reduces emissions of greenhouse gases.

Designing houses to deal with climate change

Did you know that climate change impact is dependent on where you live? Australia is known for its year-round sunshine, windy coastlines and cyclone seasons so the following design factors should be considered when building a home:

  • Designing homes with adequate shading as a way to deal with solar radiation;
  • Making use of passive solar design features that are vital for reducing the constant need to heat the rooms during winter and air conditioning during hot summer days;
  • The likely flooding that may affect low-lying areas;
  • Houses designed to make use of natural ventilation;
  • Strengthening the structures of houses to manage wind factors;
  • Integrating features that ensure more water is saved in homes. This reduces the burden on urban area water supply;

Reducing emission of greenhouse gases

Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide are detrimental to the environment and can be produced during construction. These gases are emitted during:

  • Extraction of material, manufacturing and transportation
  • Occupation of the houses

The release of carbon dioxide should be controlled to minimise the impact it has on the environment. Some ways to reduce such emissions include:

  • Choosing only those sites that can utilise passive solar designs
  • Incorporating rainwater harvesting and proper storage
  • Introducing features such as double glazed windows, thermal mass, and orientation
  • Adding fittings that reduce the amount of water used
  • Selecting materials that emit fewer gases over their lifetime

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