Climate change is back in the headlines, in fact many are describing the current state of affairs as a “climate emergency,” so is it time to refresh our memories about eco-luxury? Summit House (Whipple Russell Architects) in California (pictured above) is a modern luxury home that uses extensive solar power and passive-solar design elements and shows the stunning results that are possible while adhering to environmental principles.
There’s a lot to think about in sustainable design so here are seven pointers to consider if you’re planning a luxury home.
- Know your sustainability
Arguably you should aim for both, but there’s a difference between an environmentally sustainable designed home using sustainable materials, and an energy efficient home that minimises the inputs you need for heating and cooling. The result will offer a range of benefits: maximisation of natural light; a smaller carbon footprint; lower energy bills and optimal air quality and acoustics.
- Small is beautiful
Size is a factor in both cost and sustainability. A smaller footprint is always going to be more sustainable and cost less than a traditional home, requiring fewer materials and less energy to run. The key to creating luxury in a smaller home lies in clever design, which can also feed into the overall wow factor.
Hardwood floors have long been considered the height of luxury, but there are more eco-friendly options such as bamboo or cork (pictured above). Concrete or stone are also good options; and they leave a surprisingly small carbon footprint. Recycled glass and metal tiles are more unusual forms of sustainable flooring. Glass tiles are made from recycled bottles, windows and other glass items, a good use for a product that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Similarly metal tiles are made from aluminium, copper and brass that’s been discarded and reused.
- Proper insulation
Up to half of all energy in traditional households goes to heating and cooling. So a home that is sealed, is a “luxury” in itself. It’s critical though to consult with a specialist in this area to ensure that ventilation is also designed to prevent condensation build-up and other harmful side effects.
- Green roofs + vegetable gardens
Green roofs are evolving to offer natural cooling as well as aesthetic appeal. They’re also increasingly giving way to urban farms or vegetable gardens. These have until recently been an unsung luxury lifestyle hero. While they do require maintenance and tending, the wellbeing benefits of gardening may be a welcome byproduct; gardening is a great happiness booster and provides a healthy alternative to buying more costly supermarket veggies that can be nutritionally compromised thanks to the use of pesticides. It’s worthwhile investing in the services of a garden or landscape designer to set up your roof top haven to make the most of natural light and heat and to provide invaluable advice on how to cultivate your garden for an optimal outcome.
- Going solar
Solar panels are becoming increasingly affordable and efficient, so now might be the perfect time to harness the sun’s energy. Invest the time to research your options and ensure that you secure a reputable product.
- Short term cost = long term gain
Investing in a luxury home is often seen as enough of an outlay without adding further bells and whistles. However, if you’re designing sustainably, any upfront spend is likely to save you money over the long term, financially and environmentally. An eco-luxury home with passive solar design and beautiful materials that look their best unadorned (minimising the need for painting and other maintenance), could save you money and boost your overall wellbeing for years to come.