Green Living, sustainability

Green Renovation Tips


Renovating is not only costly, but can cause some serious CO2 emissions. If you're keen to remodel your home, make sure you're on the right side of sustainability and go for options that lead to the least carbon footprints. HL chatted to Kerry Henning, marketing manager for Saint Gobain, about renovating green:

Why is sustainability important when it comes to home improvement?

The way we make decisions needs to change. It is becoming more and more apparent that we can no longer make home improvements to simply suit today’s needs. In order to remain sustainable we must build with the future in mind. Thus, using materials that are flexible to our changing needs should become the clear choice.

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How does one make decisions on sustainability when renovating?

First decide on your sustainability goals and objectives. One could start small and begin by improving the thermal efficiency of your home or, on the other hand, go the extreme of developing an ‘off the grid’ or passive home. Once you know what your goals are, one would need to decide what processes, systems and products would best suit your needs. Some of these include:

  • Reducing the window to wall ratio by 25%
  • Reflective paint or roof tiles that improves the solar reflectivity by 70%
  • Reflective paint for external walls that improves the solar reflectivity by 70%
  • External shading devices can improve the annual average shading factor to 0.53 which is defined as that fraction of incident solar radiation that actually enters a building through the entire window assembly as heat gain.
  • Glass wool roof insulation from Isover (e.g. Aerolite) to improve the U value which is the overall heat transfer coefficient that describes how well a building element conducts heat or the rate of transfer of heat (in watts) through one square metre of a structure divided by the difference in temperature across the structure.
  • External wall insulation such as Weber ETICS (External Thermal Insulation Composite System) will improve the U value.
  • Low E-coated glass or high performance glass for solar control
  • Natural ventilation
  • Energy efficient ceiling fans in habitable rooms, which is legislation in some hot- climate countries such as India.
  • Solar Geysers
  • Energy efficient appliances e.g. fridge, washing machine, dishwasher, etc.
  • Energy efficient light bulbs
  • Lighting controls, such as motion sensors for common areas and outdoor lighting
  • Solar photovoltaic panels to supply at least 25% of total energy demand
  • Smart meters

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What kinds of sustainable options are there for someone looking to renovate their home?

Every little bit helps! Whether you are selecting materials for a new build or making alterations, choosing the most energy efficient materials could increase efficiency by as much as 74*. The construction and installation of elements such as floor slabs, roofing, insulated walls, and even window frames will add to the energy efficiency of your home. Look at the following possible options:

  • Floor slabs
  • Concrete filler slab leveled with Isover’s Politerm Blu, which is a thermal insulation mortar consisting of EPS beads which enable the production of lightweight, thermal insulation mortars of various densities.
  • Roof construction
  • Mirco concrete tiles on timber rafters and a Gyproc Classic Ceiling System with Aerolite loft insulation.
  • External walls with insulation
  • Weber ETICS (External Thermal Insulation Composite System) is a thermally insulating and decorative exterior cladding system that consists of a series of specially designed components, each of which performs a designated function and as a system they offer excellent insulation properties for buildings.
  • Internal walls with insulation
  • Gyproc Walling System, with Isover Glasswool insulation. A variety of performance specific systems are available depending on the performance criteria required, Sound Resistance, Moisture Resistance, Air Cleansing, Impact Resistance, Fire Resistance or High Performance.
  • Flooring
  • Terrazzo tiles are the most energy efficient flooring option. Select Saint-Gobain Weber tile adhesive and grouting.
  • Window Frames
  • Upvc window frames have the least embodied energy and are therefore the most energy efficient.

Is it possible to have both sustainable elements and maintain an appealing aesthetic, or does one need to make compromises?

Sustainability is the new ‘sexy’. By making the most of what you have got and using some simple design principles one can achieve a comfortable home that is more superior acoustically, thermally, and of course aesthetically.

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Let's say someone has renovated their home without using sustainable methods. What could they do now to help prevent making more of a negative ecological impact?

Here are a few practical tips:

  • Install a Saint-Gobain Isover geyser blanket for insulation. This will help prevent heat loss.
  • A smooth RhinoLite finish to your walls would mean less paint compared to textured walls. Remember to use VOC and lead-free, water based PVC paint.
  • RhinoLite Projection Plaster 2in1 is a great alternative to a sand and cement wall finish. In this process less water is used during construction, which reduces time on site due to a faster drying period.
  • Gyproc Drylining may be a suitable option to improve the thermal quality of new or existing masonry walls.

The following Water Efficiency Measures could improve a household’s water efficiency by up to 59%*

  • Low flow showerheads – 8ltr/min
  • Low flow taps for kitchen sinks and washbasins – 6ltr/min
  • Dual flush toilets – 6ltr first flush and 3ltr second flush
  • Rainwater harvesting system – 50% of roof area used for rainwater collection
  • Recycled grey water for flushing

For more information visit saint-gobain.co.za