Eco-friendly design and ‘going green’ are the key phrases on everyone's lips at the moment. Homeowners and designers alike are trying to find innovative ways to reduce the impact our homes have on the environment.
A glazed extension is the perfect way to merge the crossover between home and garden, creating a seamless transition between the two spaces. With that in mind, creating a room that is not only beautiful but that also has a minimum impact on the environment, should be a top priority.
As a result, many brands, designers, and appliance manufacturers have taken great strides towards ensuring that designing an eco-friendly, bespoke glazed extension can be achieved easily.
Sourcing sustainable materials
Before getting into the finer details and intricacies of the room within, it’s important to take a look at the materials used when building the extension. Timber is a very popular material used by many designers and if sourced appropriately, its environmental impact is negligible. One of the best examples of a timber that is extremely environmentally friendly, while still being a fantastic building material, is Accoya®.
Accoya® is a revolutionary timber that is created from fast-growing and readily available FSC® or PEFC™ certified tree species, such as Radiata pine. The pine undergoes a non-toxic and environmentally friendly chemical process known as acetylation, which improves the strength of the timber making it far more durable and stable than its original form. Additionally, the acetylation process improves the paint retention and in-ground performance of the timber, reducing the amount of maintenance required in the future.
Accoya® is a Class 1 timber and just about as durable as wood can be. Add to that the eco-friendly aspects of the timber, Accoya® is the perfect material for creating an eco-friendly glazed extension.
The importance of energy-efficient glazing
Popular extension types such as orangeries, garden rooms, and conservatories are made primarily of glass, therefore it’s important to ensure they have the best energy rating possible. When looking into the energy efficiency of windows, it’s important to understand U-values.
What are U-values?
A U-values is a metric that is used to measure the energy efficiency and insulation of a door or window. The lower the value, the better the insulation and therefore the better the energy efficiency of the window. For homeowners who truly want to create an energy-efficient glazed extension, it’s important to look at the U-value of the whole window or door to provide the true efficiency, not just the central pane.
Alternative home energy solutions
Installing various alternative energy sources is a great way to reduce the impact a glazed extension has on the environment. There are various renewable energy sources available, however, choosing which is the best option depends on each property and ideally needs to be factored into the designs from the outset.
Solar panels capture the sun’s energy, then convert this energy into electricity that can be used to run various household appliances, lighting, or even for heating. Solar panels have progressed from the unsightly large panels that sit on the top of a roof and can now be added to each individual tile making them more discrete and subtle. It’s important to consider the direction the roof is facing to ensure that the solar panels are working as effectively as possible, although, as technology evolves, direct sunlight is becoming less of an issue.
Wind turbines harness the power of the wind to generate electricity. Small turbines can be mounted to the roof of a property, alternatively, a larger turbine can be erected in a suitable position on the ground. One of the main benefits of wind turbines is the fact that they can store excess energy for when there is less wind, meaning the property relies on traditional sources far less.
Ground Source Heat Pumps
These work by using the heat stored in the earth to provide hot water and heat buildings. Even in winter, the temperature below the ground rarely drops below 10°C, and with the use of a ground heat exchange loop, a homeowner can tap into this green source of energy all year round.
Picking the perfect kitchen appliances
A kitchen or dining room is one of the most popular uses of a glazed extension, due to the size of the new space and access to the garden. The various appliances within a kitchen are typically the items that use the most energy in the home and have the biggest impact on the environment.
All home appliances are given a rating based on their energy efficiency, making it easier for homeowners to choose the best eco-friendly option. However, it’s important to consider all aspects of the appliance, not just the energy rating. The size of the appliance will have a significant impact on its energy consumption, for example, two appliances could have the same energy rating but the larger item will, of course, use the most energy. Therefore, it’s important to be wary of ‘over-speccing’ by choosing an appliance that meets the household requirements.
Eco-friendly doesn’t just mean using less electricity, homeowners who are looking to cut their homes’ impact on the environment should also consider their water consumption. Many brands have made a serious effort to reduce the amount of water used by their products. For example, certain dishwashers use less water than filling a kitchen sink, therefore homeowners can be confident in knowing that their appliances aren’t using unnecessary water.
Another option to help reduce both water consumption and energy usage is the addition of a boiling water tap. These are considered to be great eco-friendly alternatives to using a kettle or boiling a pan of water. The main benefit of boiling water taps is the fact that only the required amount of water is used. There’s no more guesstimating how much water is needed for a cuppa or boiling far too much water on the hob.
Designing an eco-friendly home extension
For homeowners who are looking to reduce the carbon footprint of their home and design an extension that is both aesthetically pleasing, and eco-friendly, there are a number of options available. If the priority is in ensuring the build is eco-friendly, this should be highlighted as early as possible to ensure that the designer is making the appropriate decisions at every stage.
At Westbury Garden Rooms we are committed to ensuring that we act in an environmentally responsible manner in order to ensure that our own business has a low carbon footprint and our customers’ homes do too. From investing in the latest technology to reducing transportation, and using redwood and Accoya® to the furthest extent possible in our builds. For more information, you can read our full environmental policy here.