Living in a Shipping Container
Converting a shipping container into a livable home is an innovative example of eco friendly house. Shipping containers are modular, economical, durable, weatherproof, portable and can be reasonably easy to procure. It's considered "eco friendly" primarily because it involves recycling a "waste material" - in this case a discarded cargo box ! However, this seemingly sustainable alternative architecture arguably has certain downsides. The coatings may contain hazardous chemicals and the wooden floors are often infused with chemical pesticides. But still, they can be great eco houses.
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Green building means developing and using a structure in a way that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout its life-cycle - stages of the life-cycle being siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and demolition.
It is a practice that involves finding a balance between homebuilding and sustainability so as to increase the efficiency with which the building premises use and harvest materials, energy and water. The concept of green building attempts to enhance a building's sustainability along with economy, utility, durability, and comfort. It is very much in keeping with the concept of sustainable development - which is the ability to achieve economic prosperity while preserving the natural environment and providing a better quality of life for the people.
While the concept can be more easily implemented in buildings that are being newly built, it can also be applied to existing buildings through remodeling, retrofitting and improving operations.
Any house can be an eco house - a home, an academic institute, a lab, a healthcare facility, a commercial or government establishment.
Green homes are eco-friendly, economical and energy-efficient homes. They attempt to achieve maximum benefits at minimum costs. They are designed to reduce the overall adverse impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environs. This is done through the efficient use of resources, improvement of occupant health, comfort and productivity and reduction of waste, pollution and environmental degradation.
Green homes strive to be sustainable in every aspect - construction, maintenance and usage. They may incorporate sustainable building materials in their construction - i.e. materials that are reused, recycled, or made from renewable resources. Their indoor environments are created to be healthy with minimal pollutants - using green furniture, green cleaning products, natural pest repellants and eco friendly paint.
In order to ensure comfort and well-being of the occupants an eco house should have a good Indoor Environmental Quality. This is achieved through an efficient heating, cooling and ventilating system. The building needs to be well-insulated with a properly designed building envelope to reduce moisture and increase thermal quality. Efficiency during operations and maintenance phase is achieved through waste management and air quality enhancement.
Although building an eco house costs more than making a conventional one, the up-front cost pays off in the long run because of savings in energy and reduction of maintenance costs during the building's life-cycle.
Green Architecture is an effort to create green buildings in a way that reduces adverse impact on the environment through efficiency in material usage, energy and design. Factors taken into consideration include climatic conditions, placement of the building (location and orientation), achieving energy efficiency (reduction of energy need and renewable energy generation), installing a waste management system and use of sustainable building materials. As climate and availability of materials vary greatly across the world, there's no one-size-fits-for-all solution to building an eco house. Landscaping. A well-designed landscape with systematically planted vegetation can greatly increase the energy efficiency of a house. So where there's scope for landscaping, it can be adequately utilized to reduce air pollution and save on electricity bills. Trees, shrubs, vines and groundcovers can be used to provide cooling shades in summer and insulation against heat loss in winter. Plants can also be used as windbreaks - useful in areas that face strong winds.