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We need to consider the natural environment when we build and renovate to create homes that are healthier and more comfortable. We also need to build structures that are resilient and long-living, which means working with the local climate and soil, and using the design process to improve natural light, ventilation and thermal comfort.
We need to choose our materials and fittings carefully to ensure a building starts life with the smallest possible eco-footprint. This means ensuring the lowest total embodied energy for the whole project by using the most environmentally friendly materials available, minimising waste, gaining maximum thermal performance and minimising operational costs.
Additionally, homes that allow access to roofs and gardens can cater for greater self-sufficiency by providing sources of renewable energy generation (e.g., solar panels), space for harvesting rainwater (and re-using greywater) and for growing fruit and vegetables.
There is a growing number of ‘eco-designed' buildings that feel more comfortable to be in without artificial air-conditioning, that demonstrate relatively low total embodied energy, and achieve zero net operating emissions because they are self-sufficient in their energy (and sometimes water) use.