Renovation planning – all too often, we are consumed by a focus on price and aesthetics. Today, however, we have so many options that allow us to build green into our homes – beautifully and affordably. Bearing in mind that beyond a positively greener footprint, these sustainable choices often bring value in terms of improved home comfort, health and the longer-term maintainability of our homes.
We have the capacity to think more critically about the materials we choose to bring into our homes, what they are made of and where they come from, and below are some ideas to help get us started!
A consideration during renovation – whether its for a new BTO, or to breathe life into an older home, is flooring. The materials we choose have a huge influence on the way our home can look and feel. Whether it’s tiles or wood that you are looking at, here are a few pointers to keep in mind.
Tiles: Tiles are a great consideration that can mimic the look of wood, marble and other stones; but importantly many tiles today, are made of recycled materials and they can themselves eventually be recycled.
Wood: Whether as an indoor feature, outdoor flooring or even as feature claddings, wood ensures as a luxurious and distinctive material. With options such as reclaimed wood, engineered wood, and sustainably sourced woods available, we have every opportunity to make more sustainable choices.
Cork: Who knew that cork makes for excellent flooring. Sustainably harvested, cork is a renewable material that comes from the bark of trees; this means that rather than felling trees, only a portion of the bark is taken, and the trees themselves produce new layers for subsequent use. Cork also is a great sound absorber, it provides cushioning underfoot, and it’s mould and mildew resistant making for a beautiful and comfortable flooring to boot.
Divide and Conquer
Walls and partitions help define the spaces within our homes, they establish separation and create the functional and private environments that we are familiar with.
Dry walls: Constructed of sustainable products such as plasterboards or fibre cement boards, innovations and improvements mean that the dry walls of today are far superior to what they used to be. They provide good acoustic and thermal insulation, and boast natural resistance to fire and the damp.
Rather than conventional brick and wet plastering, dry walls are easy to install, reduce the need for noisy hacking, and allow for easy onsite reconstruction. With smooth surfaces, they are quick to set up and ready for paint once installed.
As we look to soften and cover raw walls and ceilings, we look to a range of applications that transform white walls into vibrant, calming, engaging, textured or colourful surfaces.
Paints: While we’ve taken tremendous steps forward from older lead-based paints, it is important to bear in mind that to date, there are paint options that can actually be harmful to ourselves and families. Many paints still produce harmful VOC emissions that negatively impact both the environment and our health – triggering issues such as headaches, nausea, conjunctival irritation, nose and throat discomfort, skin, irritation, dizziness, occupational asthma and the likes.
The same is true for many lacquers and thinners which often coat our furniture – these sealants often off gas harmful VOC emissions months after they have been applied.
Today, there are a range of low to no VOC paints, and water-based sealants that we should be pursuing to both our health and peace-of-mind, even as we look to beautifying our spaces.
Lastly, we look at the everyday things we bring into our homes post renovation, as the living kicks in. From our dish washing detergents to our laundry detergents and many of the household cleaners we bring into our homes contain polluting materials either inherently or in their production.
- – Aerosol spray products, including health, beauty and cleaning products;
- – Air fresheners
- – Chlorine bleach
- – Detergent and dishwashing liquid
- – Dry cleaning chemicals
- – Carpet and upholstery cleaners
- – Furniture and floor polish
- – Oven cleaners
From over the counter, to home-made and organic solutions, today’s homeowners and future homeowners have access to a range of green and plant-based cleaner options that are great for the environment and better for our homes. An excellent starting point would be to pay attention to some of the eco labels and certifications that are widely available here in Singapore.
Green Means Go Natural
While it may not be feasible to eliminate all harmful materials from the home environment, the range of options that we have today, means that it is completely possible to reduce our dependency on products and consumables that are harmful. Look out for green products and offerings for your home use, and explore directories of green product manufacturers, service providers and retailers available in Singapore.