What are eco friendly prefab homes

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Eco-friendly prefab houses

Eco-friendly houses are built with care for the environment and they are energy efficient both in construction and in use. Another important feature is that they are built using only non-toxic eco-friendly materials that can be easily recycled.

In its essence, an eco-friendly house is about efficiency and care for nature – it should be energy efficient, use only green energy, create a reduced amount of pollutants and probably the most important for one’s budget, it should require a lot less monthly expenses.

It is important to understand that an eco-friendly house is more than a house that uses advanced technologies – an eco-friendly house is also designed from the beginning to be in harmony with its surroundings.

Eco-friendly principles

Eco-friendly houses have some common principles that help reduce their environmental impact. There are two types of methods – passive methods and active methods – that make a house eco-friendly.

The passive methods refer to those methods that don’t require energy in order to function on a long term. The initial design of the house should take into consideration the orientation and the climatic aspects of the site. Assuring natural air ventilation through different methods is also important for cooling the spaces and creating a comfortable environment all year round.

Using some kind of sunshade is also important – even if we are talking about using greenery or other types of sunshade. Wall and roof thermal insulation is also important as it retains the heat in the winter and keeps it out in the summer.

The active methods refer to achieving energy efficiency and sustainability through technology. Using renewable resources for creating energy is one of the main characteristics of an eco-friendly house. From solar energy to wind and geo-thermal energy, houses should use everything that the environment has to offer.

What makes prefab houses eco-friendly?

There are many types of prefab houses, from cabins to modular homes or panel-built houses which have in common the off-site construction of some elements or the entire house. They are built in a factory-like controlled environment with minimum material waste and energy consumption and then are assembled on site by a team of professionals.

Prefab houses are designed from the beginning with a special attention at how the interior space is divided, especially for the cabins and the tiny houses, where every centimetre is important. Because most of the work is done off-site, they go easier on the environment from the beginning. Depending on the type you choose, some of them don’t even require a concrete foundation because they are delivered on an already existing concrete base.

Why are eco-friendly prefab houses better than traditional ones?

Because of their construction process, building an eco-friendly prefab house is easier and cheaper than a traditional one. Building a eco-friendly house has numerous benefits, such as:

Less waste in production

The elements of a prefab house are being manufactured using end-to-end prefabrication methods developed over the years. This means that all the resources are rationalised and the waste of materials are reduced to almost zero.

Less construction time

The process of making a prefab house is standardised and use as little resources as possible for the best outcome, including the time resource. Because most of the house, if not the entire house, is made in a factory, the time spent on the actual construction site is limited. Depending on the type of prefab that you choose, it can even take two days to assemble the elements and finish the construction. This aspect is very important for the ones that don’t have much time to spare but want to build their own house.

Sustainable materials at better prices

When building their house, people want to choose what is best for them, including the best materials. In the case of prefab houses, quality materials are cheaper because the production of the house elements is prefabricated, thus creating less waste. Beside this, the house is assembled by a professionally trained team provided by the manufacturer.

Prefab eco-friendly houses are more affordable

There are numerous types of prefab houses from which you can choose depending on your existing budget. Therefore, prefab eco-friendly houses may be more affordable, but they don’t fit all budgets. Usually, a construction site comes with tons of unexpected problems that require an increase in the budget. Considering how prefab houses are made it is unlikely that the same problems appear which makes them better in terms of costs.

Types of eco-friendly houses

The concept of eco-friendly homes is always changing and evolving as new technologies are created. The difference between types of eco-friendly houses are the different principles of sustainability included. The most common types of eco-friendly houses that everyone should consider are:

Passive houses

The main idea of a passive house is to use little or even no energy for heating or cooling down the spaces. This is achieved through high-performance insulation, airtightness, a natural ventilation system, and some active technologies such as heat recovery ventilators. This kind of house also uses renewable energy to produce what it needs in terms of electrical energy.

Passive houses are considered very healthy for inhabitants, as it creates a comfortable environment all year round. It is very energy-efficient and even though the initial investment might seem costly, it will pay off in time as the monthly expenses are close to zero.

Net zero houses

A net zero house is a house that is consuming the same amount of energy that it produces, in terms of heating, air conditioning, electrical energy and so on. Therefore, in theory, a net zero house is not connected to any local energy provider and it is actually generating all the energy that it uses.

This can be achieved through multiple methods ranging from the ultimate renewable and sustainable technologies, as well as taking into account some passive methods related to sun orientation, plan conformation and other design techniques that should be taken into account from the beginning.

Bioclimatic houses

These types of houses use the natural resources from the local environment. In this case, the location of the house is very important. In the design process there are considered several factors such as the orientation of the house – sun is used to warm the living room and the bedrooms, while the other rooms such as bathrooms or technical rooms are oriented towards the north.

Bioclimatic houses also make use of trees and other plants to provide shade. In the summer, there will be plenty of shade if you plant a tree near the house, while in winter the same tree that remained without leaves lets the sun come in and warm the interior.

Passivhaus standard

In the UK, the Passivhaus standard [1]is reaching more and more people as it aligns with their interests of having a good quality home environment and less monthly expenses. It is a standard of house building that uses all the principles for an eco-friendly house to create a sustainable and energy-efficient home.

To be a part of the Passivhaus community and have a certified house the planning starts from scratch. The Passivhaus Planning Package (PHPP) is a design tool made for professionals that models the house to meet the requirements for a passive house. It is a guarantee for success in the field of eco-friendly houses as it takes into consideration all the passive and active methods and principles.

Certification for eco-friendly houses

Alongside the Passivhaus standard there are multiple other certifications for eco-friendly houses available around the world.

Beside the assurance of a low-impact energy efficient and sustainable house, having a green building certification means opportunities for tax incentives and funding opportunities, depending on your country’s politics.

There are several green building certifications that attest to the performance of the house in different parts of the world. In the UK, the most important is BREEAM[2] (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) and it is acquired through a thorough evaluation of the house impact. This evaluation includes energy and water use, health and well-being, pollution, transport, materials, waste, ecology and management processes.

Other certifications for green buildings are DGNB in Germany[3], based on the German codes and standards, LEED[4] and WELL in the USA[5] based on their codes and standards, Green Star in Australia[6] and others.

References:
[1]Passivhausstandard:https://www.passivhaustrust.org.uk/what_is_passivhaus.php#2
[2]BREEAM:https://bregroup.com/products/breeam/
[3]DGNB in Germany:https://www.dgnb-system.de/en/index.php
[4]LEED:https://www.usgbc.org/leed%20
[5]WELL:https://www.wellcertified.com/
[6]Green Star in Australia:https://new.gbca.org.au/green-star/exploring-green-star/

Featured image:model NC 37 by NordCabin

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