Designing with Mother Earth in Mind

BEDROOM, LIVING ROOM AND DINING ROOM GREEN RENOVATIONS

When considering to renovate the bedrooms, living rooms and dining rooms we should be considering various green options. These are

  • Indoor air quality
  • Energy efficiency
  • Conserving resources
  • Reducing the environmental impact
  • Affordability
  •  

    Indoor Air Quality

  • Start by reducing polluted emissions from materials. Use low emission materials for cabinets, flooring, paints, grouts, sealants and adhesives.
  • Secondly, enhance natural lighting. Install or enlarge existing windows.
  • Thirdly, provide lots of ventilation and air circulation.
  • Lastly, boost the comfort level of the room. Improve air leakages and insulation
  • Energy Efficiency

  • Improve the envelope of the house. Install insulation and seal around the external doors and windows where possible.
  • Fit in energy efficient lighting. Plan your lighting accordingly. Lay it out to optimize the number of fixtures that are required
  • Install Energy Efficient windows. Be wise, double glazing is not always the solution. They work to keep the heat out in summer, but when we need to let the heat in to warm up our home during winter it doesn’t work.
  • Install an ‘all-off’ switch. A switch or remote that can control all the electricals in your home from one switch. We often forget to turn-off certain electrical items when we leave the house or even when going to bed. This reduces all phantom loads
  • Install curtains to reduce the amount of heat entering in during summer. This also reduces the heat escaping in winter.
  • Conserving Resources

  • Select energy efficient products for cabinets, shelves, flooring. There are many companies that now manufacture materials out of recyclable materials.
  • Choose locally sourced materials, recycled content, durable materials.
  • One of the biggest ways to conserve resources is to Design for ‘aging in place’. By extending the amount of time an occupant can live in a house extends the life of the house.
  • Reducing the Environmental Impact

  • Make a plan for the renovation waste management. Recycle fixtures, cabinets and materials. Reuse and recycle them wherever possible.
  • As mentioned before choose products and materials that produce less emissions.
  • Affordability

  • Make your renovation affordable. Ensure that everything has been identified and addressed prior to starting the renovation. Control replacement and maintenance costs by using durable materials.
  • Use energy and water saving mechanisms to reduce operational costs.
  • Have a timeless design to extend the life of the room
  • Design for accessibility. As the aged population increases, our homes will need more room to move around. Designing the home right increases the number of years we can live in the home. We wouldn’t need to build another home to accommodate our changing needs.
  • Site Inspection

    There are several things that we must consider before renovating. We need to analyse the existing condition of the house. Explore the opportunities and potential of recycling materials. Develop solutions for structural issues, ventilation needs and existing plumbing.
    A site inspection helps us understand the existing condition of your home. We can now problem solve and incorporate prevention strategies into the design plan. It will also help us integrate green features into the home. This helps ensure a renovation that is as hassle free as possible.
    What pre-existing conditions should we consider during the site inspection?

  • Structural
  • External walls, Roofs and Ceilings
  • Indoor Air quality
  • Lead and Asbestos
  • Heating and Cooling
  • Structural

    In older houses check the condition of the floor joists if they are visible or accessible. If the joists are undersized or too far apart, they may need to be reinforced. Identify the load bearing walls in the home. Ensure, if you are tearing down the wall to allow for beams to hold the roof up.
    Identify problems that will need to be corrected before even starting the renovation. Signs for recent and past movement in the structure include diagonal cracks around windows and doorways, cracked tiles and bowed floors.

    External Walls, Roofs and Ceilings

    Pre 2012’s houses may have a little or no insulation in the ceilings and walls. Most houses may have some ceiling insulation and there are always opportunities to increase it during the renovation.
    Windows and doors in the older homes need to sealed as these are usually non-existent in older homes. Stop these air leakages and the room will be more comfortable.
    Check for moisture damage to the underside of the roof. If possible, change your tiled roof to Colourbond, add extra insulation under it.

    Indoor Air Quality

    Signs for poor air-quality include

  • Lingering Odours – There isn’t enough indoor-outdoor air exchange
  • High humidity in the room – Moisture and mould problems
  • Storing of chemical cleaning materials – Create alternative storage locations in the renovation plans
  • Problems with the quality of air indoors may sometimes indicate the need for a whole
    house ventilation system.
  • Asbestos and Lead

    House paint contains lead. Test your old paint (scrapped of your wall) for lead content.
    Asbestos was used in fences, eaves, internal wall sheeting’s, backing for tiles in bathrooms, ceilings and sometimes also as underlay for carpets.
    For both Asbestos and Lead removal hire experts or at the very least wear protective clothing and the safety requirements applicable by law.

    Heating and Cooling

    Is the room comfortable to be in during winter? A cold room usually indicates that the walls are poorly insulated. It also indicates that the external windows and doors are not sealed properly.
    Is the room too hot in the summer? Corrective measures usually improve comfort during summer months.

    Considering and Options for Green Features

    Sometimes making structural changes like removing drywalls as a part of the renovation can give you a chance to improving airtightness. Adding insulation into the walls and ceilings leads to keeping the rooms cooler in summer and warmer in winter. This then leads to energy savings, and comfortable spaces for the occupants.
    Even if there is some insulation in the walls and ceiling space, we can use the renovation as an opportunity to upgrade it with higher performing insulation. If your walls are in good condition we can always blow in the insulation.
    Depending on the type of walls in your home and their condition, we can add extra framing over them and install rigid insulation or tear down the wall or ceiling and rebuild new with higher levels of insulation and airtightness.
    When blow-in insulation is used, the existing plaster or drywall can act as the air barrier as long as it has been sealed at all the openings, windows, doors and outlets.

    Closed cell spray foam insulation is another option that we can use. This provides us with both an air barrier and insulating properties. If installed properly, it will fill the cavity completely and stick to the structure creating an air tight assembly.
    Replace older windows with low-E glazing windows. Seal the gaps between the walls and the windows and doors properly so it can be air tight and no air is escaping. Use curtains and pelmets as window coverings to protect the room from excessive solar gain.

    Floors

    Hard surfaces such as tile, natural stone, concrete and hardwood are healthier choices as they have little or no off-gassing. Use water-based urethane finishes (low VOC finishes) for finishing your floor. Use low VOC glues for tiles and sticking other surfaces.
    Always consider transportation costs. Use locally sourced materials as much as possible. If you prefer softer flooring then consider carpets and rugs as they can be recycled at the end of their lifecycle.

    Paints, Finishes and Sealants

    Choose finishes that are marked as low VOC. These include water-based urethane coatings, Low VOC paints, low emission cement, plant based or mineral based paints. We can even use natural clay and lime plaster for people who extremely sensitive to emissions.
    Check our guide on natural low VOC finishes here.

    Cabinetry and Shelving

    Particle boards and MDF (Medium density fibreboard) that is usually used to make cabinets usually contains formaldehyde glue, which emits formaldehyde and other pollutants that adversely affects the indoor air quality. Most of the time this is sealed in with a plastic overlay which reduces the emissions, however all the surfaces, including the tiny holes for the shelving and the edges should be coated with a suitable sealer that is water borne urethane or a low toxic acrylic sealer to reduce the off-gassing.
    We can get formaldehyde-free MDF sheets, exterior grade plywood and other options to minimize off-gassing.

    Air Circulation and Ventilation

    In a house with a fixed heating and cooling system ensure that it is thermostatically controlled. Upgrade the system to one that can individually control each room as not all rooms are being used at once. Also make sure that the system is rightly sized for the area.
    Adding ceiling fans to the rooms makes a huge difference. Choose reversable ceiling fans that can be reversed during winter times.

    Lighting and Electrical

    Improve the energy efficiency of your home by installing efficient lighting like LED lights. You can also install larger windows to improve natural light into the room. Use recessed lighting with airtight fixtures in ceilings to avoid air loss. Consider installing an ‘all-off’ switch to turn-off the equipment that are creating phantom loads in the house.

    Recent Guides


      Recent Guides

      Renovating Guide

      Sustainability Guide