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Sustainable Housing – How to Enable Environmental Sustainability with Eco Living?

What is Sustainable Housing and Living? How to build sustainable housing strategy, ideas, materials and architecture?

A home is everyone’s basic right. And Sustainable Housing is one of the hottest trends in sustainable architecture and constructions today.

However, with the Earth population climbing up each day, how do we ensure our basic right doesn’t cost the Earth more than it already has? Are there ways to build houses that don’t deplete natural resources? Can we build houses that benefit both the current and future generations?

These are the questions sustainable housing tries to answer.

What is sustainable housing?

While our homes keep us safe from environmental elements, our households pollute the environment through carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to greenhouse effects.

The households in the US alone generate 5.43 gigatons of CO2 each year. This carbon footprint comes from things such as our utility and appliances. The quantity of greenhouse gas emissions from our electricity, furnaces, and boilers, etc. all have negative impacts on the environment.

Sustainable housing aims to minimize these negative impacts to protect and conserve our environment. The process involves increasing efficiency in which houses are built and controlling the usage of materials, development space, and energy.

Sustainable housing is not only energy-efficient, but it also respects the natural environment and keeps the environment healthy. This is why sustainable housing uses either renewable natural resources or recycled materials in its construction.

Why we need sustainable housing?

With the human population growing every day, land area and natural resources getting scarce, sustainable housing could just be the solution we need.

Through sustainable housing, not only we’re able to develop affordable houses and thus reduce the homelessness issue, but we can also build houses that are practical, durable, and long-lasting. Because sustainable housing uses cost-effective processes and renewable natural resources, it can help to control and manage side effects to our environment.

Sustainable homes are water- and energy-efficient. These can help homeowners reduce utility bills and thus save money. Furthermore, sustainable housing help conserve the Earth’s resources by cutting down our consumption and waste.

Sustainable Housing Materials and Ideas

Here are some ways sustainable housing helps to conserve our resources:

Smart homes

This type of modern housing is efficient in conserving energy usage. It reduces the need for uneconomical layout, harmful construction materials, and inefficient heating systems. It also has an automated system that “learns” the household usage of energy to monitor and control it.

Energy-efficient homes

Conventional housing doesn’t usually take into account energy efficiency. Energy-efficient homes have better and more efficient insulation to control and manage heating and cooling. This type of home not only reduces utility bills, but it also conserves high amount of energy.


This form of sustainable housing limits the need to develop new houses and therefore help conserve land area and resources. Retrofit is a modification process of fitting an existing home with energy-efficient insulation and systems so it can reduce energy consumption.

Sustainable materials

The production of concrete to build houses releases large amounts of greenhouse gases. Sustainable housing uses alternative materials to build houses. These materials such as straw bales, timber, bamboo, and recycled plastic are cleaner and renewable.

Sustainable ArchitectureTypes of sustainable housing

It’s not necessary to build new houses to have sustainable housing. In most cases, people achieve sustainable housing by working with what’s already there.

There are three key elements of sustainable housing. It needs to be environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable. Any housing that meets these key elements is considered a sustainable house.

Prefabricated homes

Even though prefabricated home concept is not new, it has become more popular of late. Shortened to prefab homes, this type of home is more about its construction method than style.

Instead of building from the ground up on site, different parts of the house are manufactured elsewhere. Prefab homes are pretty much like a Lego set.

Each housing part pre-constructed and ready, so the only thing that needs to be done is assembly. These housing parts are manufactured in a controlled environment and then delivered to the primary site. This method is known as Industrialized Building System or IBS.

Even though the initial cost of building houses through IBS is high because contractors need to set up new facilities, this process can significantly reduce construction waste in the long run. Not only that, IBS can shorten housing construction time considerably.

Tiny homes

The tiny home movement is one of the most popular trends in sustainable housing.

People are making a conscious choice to live in tiny houses that are typically no bigger than 500 sq ft. These tiny homes are the opposite of conspicuous displays of wealth in bigger houses because they provide the most basic living space a person needs.

Tiny homes don’t require as many materials to build, and they take up a very small portion of the land. Furthermore, tiny homes are also often mobile, allowing the homeowners to move their house when the need arises.

Another reason why tiny homes are attractive is that these tiny houses make us rethink the things we need to buy. Many come to realize that we don’t really need that many things. This leads us to buy fewer things and thus moves towards a greener and more ethical lifestyle.

Passivhaus (or passive house)

The objective of passivhaus is to reduce home energy consumption as much as possible.

A Passivhaus can either be a new house with Passivhaus construction standard or an existing home retrofitted with Passivhaus features. Using its ingenious construction methods, Passivhaus uses little energy for space cooling or heating.

Instead of relying on electricity, passivhaus utilizes passive energy sources to power the house.

It uses passive energy sources such as sunlight or appliance-generated heat to provide energy to the entire house. The orientation, shape, and size of the house also play significant roles in maximizing passive energy collection.

Other than that, passivhaus has natural ventilation to reduce the need for a mechanized cooling system. It’s also built with efficient heat retention materials and insulation so the collected passive energy will be slowly and efficiently released throughout the house.


This bio-architecture concept is getting more popular in the sustainable housing movement. This type of home is built with earthen and recycled materials. It reduces the need for new natural resources and since it’s easy to build, it also saves a lot of construction time.

Since Earthships are built from natural and recycled materials, they’re considered carbon-zero homes.

An Earthship is built largely using trash and recyclable materials such as soda cans, glass bottles, car tires, and salvaged windows or wood. The use of these materials not only helps to reduce waste, but they also contribute to temperature regulation within the Earthship.

The natural temperature regulator system is made from soil thermal wrap. Meaning, this type of sustainable housing can regulate the temperature according to the environment. This reduces the need for a mechanical temperature regulator and directly cut down on energy consumption.


Our environment bears the brunt of our activities that sooner or later we’ll reach a point of no return in restoring it. Sustainable housing is one of our best solutions yet and we need to take it seriously. We don’t have much time in helping to fully restore the environment, but we can still do something.

We still have a long way to go before we fully adopt sustainable housing because changes take time. But they give us a glimpse of what we can do to help restore, protect, and conserve the environment.

The three key elements of sustainable housing are that the housing must be environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable.

Learn more at Diversity.Social Sustainability Blog Resource

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About the author

Susanne Ricee

Susanne Ricee is the Diversity and Inclusion Specialist and Researcher at Diversity for Social Impact. Sue brings over 15 years of HR and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion consultation experience.
Sue's previous experience includes Microsoft, Target, and Kraft. Sue is also the manager of Diversity Leadership Directory