With global warming and diminishing natural resources becoming among the top issues recently, living sustainably is becoming increasingly important. Sustainable living significantly reduces the environmental impacts of human action on the environment. These practices promote water and energy conservation and reduce waste and carbon footprint.
Among the many ways of living sustainably is adopting eco-friendly construction, whether you are building a new home or constructing outdoor spaces, such as decks, patios, landscaping, and other installations. Below are a few tips for creating an eco-friendly outdoor space.
1. Hire the Right Builder
Choosing a building contractor is challenging, and adding the “green” requirement makes it additionally tricky. Unfortunately, green building codes are relatively new, and there are very few previous green projects you can use to compare potential contractors. If you don’t choose cautiously, you can easily wind up with contractors who don’t know much about green construction. Whether you are looking for a deck, patio, outdoor fireplace, or Horse Barn Builder in Pennsylvania, Atlantic Outdoors can help.
You should begin by ensuring that the builder is green-certified. Increasing awareness of green construction has pressured government agencies to develop green building standards for builders. While the federal and state governments issue no licenses for green builders, private agencies and sector watchdogs offer various certifications. You should hire a builder with the following certifications:
- National Association of Home Builders – The NAHB provides uptight oversight of green buildings. The agency currently has over 1500 certified green contractors.
- Green Advantage – States have Green Advantage Certified Professionals, which recognize architects, contractors, and attorneys who champion green building practices.
- The U.S Green Building Council – The agency is the current gold standard in the green building industry. The council provides Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification for builders and contractors.
- Energy Star – This is a government program that works with providers of local utilities to ensure that contractors and builders certified through Home Performance with Energy Star programs are updated on current energy-efficiency construction practices.
Apart from certification, you should also hire licensed contractors.
2. Choose the Right Materials
The second step in constructing an environmentally-friendly outdoor space is choosing eco-friendly materials. You should research and analyze various materials to identify ecological construction materials. Below are a few eco-friendly materials to consider for your outdoor projects:
- Natural wood – This is a popular option for constructing decks and other outdoor installments, thanks to its durable and affordable nature. Natural wood can also be recycled and fits into most eco-friendly building designs. However, you should stain and seal it regularly to maintain its condition.
- Composite material – This material is made from recycled wood and plastic. It has recently become a popular option because it is durable and requires little maintenance. Plastic from composite materials prevents insect infestation and rotting, making it a perfect alternative to natural wood. However, they are quite costly.
- Pressure-treated lumber – You can also choose pressure-treated lumber for your outdoor constructions. Over time, it has become widely accessible and lasts longer than natural and untreated wood. It is less costly than wood and has chemicals that increase its resistance to rotting and insects. However, some chemicals used to treat this material are harmful to pets and humans, so they should be used with caution.
You can also use bamboo, cork, and recycled plastic for your construction projects.
3. Pick Environmentally-friendly Designs
You should complement your eco-friendly material choices with eco-sound designs. Choosing these designs ensures that your construction projects have a minimal carbon footprint. Below are a few tips to guide sustainable construction:
- Consider the orientation of the building – Orientation refers to the position of your construction in relation to sun and wind patterns. Whether you are constructing a backyard deck, horse ban, or any other outdoor structure, following this design improves thermal comfort.
- Solar shading – Solar control directly affects the structure's energy efficiency. Shading systems such as overhangs and fins regulate sun exposure during summer while allowing winter sun into the structure. Other solar shading options, especially for garden structures, include trees, vertical fins, blinds, louvers, and hedges.
- Structural efficiency – Raw materials comprise most of the structural elements of the building. You should optimize natural resources to reduce their usage and preserve natural resources.
4. Sustainable Landscaping
You should also embrace eco-conscious practices when designing your landscape. Adopting eco-friendly landscaping practices not only increases your home’s aesthetic appeal but also complements other outdoor eco-friendly practices. You can achieve sustainable landscaping by:
- Garden preservation – Observing garden preservation best practices ensures that your garden remains flourishing throughout the seasons. Common eco-friendly preservation measures include watering early and mulching. Mulching regulates soil temperature and reduces evaporation rates by 75%. It also provides valuable nutrients to the soil and encourages worm habitation.
- Recycle and reuse – Recycling materials conserves the environment and allows you to decorate your outdoor space using unique and artistic elements.
- Use low-voltage lighting – Lighting is also crucial to any outdoor space. It helps bring the outdoor environment to life. However, traditional lighting equipment is not environmentally-friendly and should be avoided. Consider using low-voltage LED lights, which significantly light your outdoor space using a fraction of the power used by halogen lights.
- Use permeable paving – Water-permeable paving eliminates water runoff typically experienced by concrete-covered surfaces. If you have an extensive driveway, consider using permeable materials that encourage water seepage.
- Reduce chemical use – Chemicals are not food for the environment. Fortunately, you can employ various natural and eco-friendly pest control methods. Alternatives such as copper slug rings, garlic sprays, and pungent-smelling marigolds are natural methods of controlling pests in the garden.
- Plant natives – Growing a sustainable garden also requires a proper selection of outdoor plants. Sustainable or native plants need less work, require less water, and thrive better than perennials because they have adapted to your local climate, soil type, and rain patterns.
Choosing eco-friendly plants, installing a green roof, and making your compost are other best practices for sustainable landscaping.
Homeowners have endless ways of incorporating sustainability in their outdoor construction projects. From choosing the right construction expert and using sustainable materials to prioritizing eco-friendly building designs, you can complete your outdoor constructions while reducing your carbon footprint.