Eco Paints

Traditional household paints contain toxic chemicals that are released into the air for years after application, called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (1) are organic chemicals that have a high vapor pressure at ordinary room temperature. Their high vapor pressure results from a low boiling point, which causes large numbers of molecules to evaporate or sublimate from the liquid or solid form of the compound and enter the surrounding air. For example, formaldehyde, which evaporates from paint, has a boiling point of only –19 °C (–2 °F).

VOCs are numerous, varied, and ubiquitous. They include both human-made and naturally occurring chemical compounds. Most scents or odours are of VOCs. VOCs play an important role in communication between plants, and messages from plants to animals. Some VOCs are dangerous to human health or cause harm to the environment. Anthropogenic VOCs are regulated by law, especially indoors, where concentrations are the highest. Harmful VOCs typically are not acutely toxic, but have compounding long-term health effects. Because the concentrations are usually low and the symptoms slow to develop, research into VOCs and their effects is difficult.

So what to do, well you may check some companies that supply paints with low or no VOCs. One example among many is a company called “ecolour” and it is an Australian manufacturer who supplies climate friendly synthetic paint. For further information check http://www.ecolour.com.au/pages/about-us/

Eco System Health Indicators

Ecosystem health indicators assess how an ecosystem functions

Environmental indicators have been defined as physical, chemical, biological or socio-economic measures that best represent the key elements of a complex ecosystem or environmental issue. For an indicator to be effective it must provide a true measure of a component of the ecosystem

A great way to measure the health of our ecosystem is to monitor the health of our water ways and wetlands. When we think of wetlands we often think of the local swamp or low lying area near the coast, but wetlands are much more than that. Swamps, marshes, billabongs, lakes, salt marshes, mudflats, mangroves, coral reefs, fens and peat bogs are wetlands. We have great examples of that on the Fleurieu Peninsula including between Victor Harbor and Port Elliot.

Almost anywhere that can be wet is a wetland, as long as it has plants, animals or soil types that are adapted to wet conditions. Scientist who study the health of the eco system will be monitoring those particular areas such as wetlands and waterways. If there are pollutants and invasive non-native flora and fauna, the eco system suffers. Since we are part of this eco system for our own needs such as fresh water, food, quality air etc.., our own health suffer if the eco system is unhealthy. So it is vital that we nurture and treasure our environment for our own good and those of future generations.

SA Homes & Sustainable Energy Options

Environmental sustainability, global warming, renewable energy are all terms thrown around in our day and age! But what do they actually all mean for us in terms of our lifestyle choices and way of living when it comes to considering your first, second, third home or possibly a property investment. As a consumer of energy I consider what are the alternative options to reduce my energy bills? Especially with the deregulated SA energy market and rising electricity and gas costs!

First the building and trade industry is evolving their techniques to minimize costs and impact on the surrounding environment when constructing new buildings with the materials they use, designs and implementation. It is important to know that in September 2010 there was an amendment to the Development Act 1993 stating that all new homes and extensions built in South Australia needed to achieve a 6-star level energy efficiency rating.

The changes are significantly prevalent for SA since improvements on appropriate insulation and sealing mitigate typical heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter. The amount of energy loss is astounding as shown from the diagrams below:

Solar energy is a hot topic as well when considering alternative ways of generating electricity in the home. The government subsidies and rebates along with retail rebates have literally dried up! The only incentive after buying a $7 – 10,000 5kW solar system is the possibility of a 6 – 8 c/kwh rebate on what you export into the grid, if you’re lucky. So what are the options? Well not all is lost for those homes that use their electricity mostly during the day. The reason being is you can utilise your solar generation in real time. This is a much better option than paying 26 c/kwh electricity rates or receiving a 6 – 8 c/kwh rebate for exporting to the grid.

Further to that, there are up and coming solutions with solar storage. The current options are off-grid battery banks or a smart programmable-hybrid approach of both battery and grid connection.

The off-grid system, as termed, is purely utilising the solar in real time and the batteries when the system is not generating power from the sun. On the other hand, the programmable system maximises energy efficiency and return by utilising the solar system and batteries when electricity is at peak rates and grid vice versa. I recommend all viewers to check out this TED talk on new battery developments https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sddb0Khx0yA, it’s definitely an eye opener on the future of self-sustaining electricity generation in the home.

SHV Website Blog – “SA Homes & Sustainable Energy Options”

An example of a solar storage system is shown below:

A quote that comes to mind is by Buckminster Fuller, “The Best way to PREDICT the FUTURE is to DESIGN IT”. If each person played a part in designing a sustainable and ecologically friendly home, then it’s a small step and investment in the right direction for future generations to come.

Stay tune for more in October’s blog as we delve into the world of wind power and recycled building materials….

References

https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/water-energy-and-environment/energy/saving-energy-at-home/energy-efficient-home-design/Six-star-energy-efficiency-requirements

Australia’s Solar Power Comparison & Brokerage Service

Eco Friendly Building Materials

Did You Know Your Walls Are Responsible for Up to 50% of Your Heating and Cooling Loss?

Your energy bills are out of control. You don’t have to be a greenie to realise you need an energy efficient home to maintain a comfortable sustainable living standard!

The most important part of insulating a home, after the roof, is the external walls. Choose the wrong walls and you’ll be shivering through every winter and sweltering through every Aussie heat wave.

So how can one stay comfortable, cut energy bills, help the environment and still keep build budget under control? The answer is Green Cladding. Whether building a new home or renovating an existing one.

There are smart ways to build – Key green building strategies include water and energy efficiency, sourcing sustainable products and materials and using renewable energy. The choice in building materials will depend on location, climate and even size and orientation of the land… For instance, lightweight materials (e.g. fibre cement vs bricks) cost less to transport, they require much less concrete in slab construction and make more sense for an elevated home on a sloping block.

Key factors that make an eco-friendly building materials are:

  1. Sustainable source (recycled) and embodied energy (how much energy used to make the product)
  2. Insulation properties to reduce energy use to heat and cool
  3. Longetivity – consideration made to water resistance, mould, rot inhibition and general endurance
  4. Disposal and recycling

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