In the construction and property worlds, sustainability is becoming a buzzword. It covers a number of areas, including construction methods, building materials, efficiency and lifestyle. This broad list means that sustainability often seems like an unattainable and expensive standard, as well as a difficult thing to maintain in the home. Here are our thoughts about the reality of sustainability – our guide to sustainable living is designed with you in mind, to make achieving and maintaining an environmentally friendly home easy.

Effective insulation

Insulating your home will reduce your energy usage, therefore saving you money. In turn, using less energy will reduce your home’s carbon emissions. This means that taking the time to insulate your home properly is crucial to increasing its sustainability.

What to try:

  • Find out what type of insulation you have and where it is. If this is old and ineffective, have it replaced.
  • Install double glazing in all windows and glass doors.
  • Block up draughts, but be sure to maintain ventilation.

Eco-friendly materials

Whether you’re building your home from scratch, extending it or making minor changes, the materials you use matter. Sustainably sourced, local materials will significantly reduce the carbon footprint of your home by cutting out extensive fuel emissions and protecting environments from issues such as deforestation.

What to try:

  • Where possible, choose materials manufactured and sold in your local area.
  • Look for natural products – ones that haven’t been subject to chemicals and other treatments that may damage the surrounding environment.
  • Reuse and recycle old materials. Where possible, try to reuse materials that you would otherwise discard. This will prevent them from sitting in a landfill site. Equally, buy used building materials that would otherwise have been thrown away rather than buying new ones.
  • Try to use materials that are biodegradable and renewable.

Store rainwater

Rainwater harvesting systems are a great way to save money and reduce your environmental impact. This is one of the most simple and efficient ways to save water and could reduce your consumption by 50%. These systems also require a much less powerful pump, meaning you also save on your energy bill. You still remain connected to mains water for emergencies, just in case your tank fails or there’s not enough rainfall.

What to try:

  • There are two main types of rainwater harvesting systems to try:
    • Gravity feed systems collect rainwater at the top of the building and use gravity to propel water to wherever it is needed. These systems don’t require electricity or any other power source as water is simply collected and sent straight to the filter.
    • Pump feed systems are at ground level or underground and collect water through the guttering. These require electricity to pump water around the house, but tend to be more efficient for domestic use.
  • For added efficiency, combining solar heating panels with a rainwater harvesting system will reduce the cost and energy required to heat water.

Passive design

Another excellent way to reduce your energy usage, passive design aims to use the natural environment to heat and cool the home wherever possible. Efficient insulation, the position and orientation of your home and the types of materials you choose can all be used to take advantage of warm sunshine or cooling breezes.

What to try:

  • Naturally shade your home by planting trees nearby. This will help to keep your home cool during summer months.
  • Opt for heat absorbing materials when carrying out construction work. These include high density materials such as concrete, bricks and tiles.
House and landscape at Baldhorns Park photo ©Julia Claxton

photo ©Julia Claxton

Get gardening

The outside of your home is just as important as the inside in reducing your carbon footprint as much as possible. Just a small amount of attention to your garden will massively increase your home’s sustainability.

What to try:

  • Composting is a great way to keep your garden healthy and maintain a sustainable way of life. Compost will provide your plants with the nutrients that they need and decrease the amount of food waste your home produces.
  • Plant more trees. Trees are nature’s answer to pollution – this simple yet effective step will help to clear up the air around your home as well as reduce the amount of carbon dioxide that your home puts into the atmosphere.
  • Grow your own food. Not only will this reduce the fuel you use on trips to the shops, it will also provide even more carbon-dioxide-absorbing greenery to your garden.


As a born and bred Sussex company, we take pride in the local environment and strive to protect it wherever possible. Our discerning eye for quality materials and knowledge of sustainable and traditional construction methods, along with our environmental conscience, have afforded us a degree of expertise in the creation of sustainable homes. If you’d like any more information or have a green project in mind, please give Nutshell a call.