Sustainable Living – Save Money, And The World

By on November 22, 2012

Sustainable living and environmental responsibility. Four little words that don’t sound very cool, right? Wrong! In addition to helping preserve the planet’s natural resources (and keep some cash in your pocket) there’s absolutely no reason for your green building project to be anything but chic. Here are just a few examples of how cool sustainable living can be.

Fan of Lord of the Rings? Try This On For Size
Who here didn’t wish they lived in a hobbit house after they watched Lord of the Rings? Be honest now. Now you you too can live like everyone’s favourite fictional little people (sorry, dwarves.) Underground properties are fantastic options for green living, as the geothermal properties of the surrounding earth are ideal for keeping heat in during the Winter and out during the Summer. Don’t believe me? Just ask Simon Dale, who built his very own hobbit hole for himself and his family in South Wales.

Excavated from the side of a hill in a particularly picturesque area of the country, Dale was very careful to create his dream home in such a way that minimised any possible negative impacts of the surrounding area. As the building was almost entirely contained beneath the hill, the project had no detrimental effect on the natural beauty of the area, and the earth that was excavated in order to build the dwelling was repurposed in other ways throughout its construction.

Now complete, Simon’s very own version of Bag End boasts a number of advantages over its traditional brick and mortar alternatives. Firstly, as an underground property, the hobbit hole is particularly resilient to earthquakes, fires and high winds – rendering it potentially a much safer alternative to a high rise Apartment in Anna Nagar block, for instance; particularly in areas famed for having troubles with natural phenomena such as these, like Japan.

An underground home also helps with heat retention and insulation, as discussed – and since your property is no longer limited to lateral expansion once you start building underground, you will be able to maximise your available space by digging down even further.

Not Built For the Life of a Bunny? Not a Problem
Underground living is far from your only option. You could also opt for something above ground, with a similar ‘get back and give back to nature’ feel to it. Earthships and earthbags are fantastic options for an inexpensive building material – if you plan properly and you know the right people, you might even end up getting your materials entirely for free!

Earthships and earthbags are very similar in principle – they both utilise natural materials, like sand or clay, to create solid building materials that hold their heat (and therefore their value) very well. Simply pack a large (and preferably very strong) sack, or better yet an old, unwanted tyre, with dirt, clay or sand, and voila – you’ve got yourself a great alternative to traditional bricks! Once a wall is builting using these sorts of materials, you can finish it off with whatever surface décor you choose – nobody will ever know your house is made of tyres!

So…

You have plenty of options when it comes to brushing up on your green credentials, and updating your home and lifestyle to take better care of mother earth. Whether you choose to head for the hills, or to burrow beneath them, be sure you plan carefully before you begin. Best of luck!

This article was contributed by Dan Hart, on behalf of Vastern Timber – to find out more about home renovation and the importance of responsibly-sourced building materials, you can visit the website.

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