Crete Island Estates have been responsible Developers for over 10 years, considering rather than ignoring the impact we could have on Crete’s ecosystems.
Environmentally friendly construction, both in design and choice of materials, is one of the most significant ways that we can affect the future.
Much of the concern boils down to the use of energy. Consumption of energy has a direct influence on environmental quality, because of the inherent pollution through greenhouse gasses and other emissions.
There are some very simple ways to design and maintain houses that require very little energy to keep them comfortable. The following list outlines key points to consider:
• BUILD TO LAST
A prime ingredient of sustainable architecture is durability. If a building doesn’t last for a long time, it is a waste of embodied energy, from both a human and a resource perspective, not to mention the economic loss.
Building to last is partly a matter of consciousness; we need to value old architecture and its concepts. Too often builders will do shoddy work or make poor choices of construction material resulting in mistakes, disappointed customers and expensive remedial work, not only in terms of money but energy.
Architectural styles change, building materials change, family needs change, but, a well designed and constructed house should last for decades if not centuries.
Remember we do not build “Holiday homes”. All our projects are built to the same high standard should you choose to live in it all year round, or just for a few weeks each year.
• USE LOCAL MATERIALS
In almost all localities, nature has provided us with some wonderful materials to build with. These materials require little processing or transporting, as such the environmental and economic costs are low. One of the beauties of using such materials is that they blend and fit well with the local environment.
Local wood has now become a rare commodity in Crete, but stone has been used by villagers for many years and is still very popular today. As an example we try to use the local Apokoronas stone wherever possible.
We consider the use of the correct insulation materials of supreme importance. Good quality well placed insulation that will keep the house warm in winter but cool in summer is essential. We pay special attention to the use of insulation and fully comply with Greek energy conservation recommandations (K.En.A.K.) The requirement for an Energy Efficiency Certificate is also helping drive forward the use of good quality insulation and reducing energy consumption.
All our conventional construction houses are built using good quality column, cavity and roof insulation to retain heat and prevent water penetration. In addition, we are now working with new advanced products to further improve the overall thermal efficiency of the house.
Our stone houses have the traditional 50cm thick walls which are a natural insulator. Together with roof insulation, this construction can comply or exceed the current legislation regarding insulation criteria.
• WORK WITH THE SUN AND PASSIVE COOLING
Solar-heated water has been commonplace in Greece for many years, but the use of solar energy for heating and power remains relatively new in Crete. However technology is gradually emerging and, working with specialists in this field, we are able to offer economic and environmentally sound solutions. Photo-voltaic cells, Wind turbines, air and geo thermal heat exchangers are just a few examples of where natural renewable energy can be used for both cooling and heating.
In the past villagers excluded the sun from their homes to remain cool in the summer and keep warm in winter. Now windows glass can be reflective, double or triple glazed, with or without inert gases. These help achieve the same effects without blocking out the light.
Sensible use of shutters is a passive solution. In a well insulated house simply keeping the shutters partially or fully closed during the day can reduce or eliminate the use of expensive and energy hungry air-conditioning units. Opening and closing windows at different times of the day can also improve cooling effects.
Other passive cooling strategies include wind towers and air flows that catch breezes and direct them through a house. Another simple technique involves the size, shape and positioning of windows at the design stage which can significantly affect the cooling and heating of the house.
• SAVE OUR FORESTS
While wood is ostensibly a renewable resource, in many countries we have gone way beyond sustainable harvesting and have ruined enormous ecosystems. It is difficult to get away from timber in making certain styles of roof, but these can be constructed with certified sustainable harvested trees. Wherever possible we source such timber.
Crete Island Construction has a policy to retain and conserve the flora and trees on any new sites where possible. Often trees can be removed and re-planted either on site or at other locations.
• CONSERVE WATER
The average person European uses in the region of 150 litres of water a day. The use of low water capacity toilets, flow restrictors at shower heads and tap aerators are fairly common now and could contribute to a substantial reduction.
More sweeping conservation approaches include:
• Recycling and cleaning soil waste water for irrigation
• Diverting grey water from bathing, clothes washing and bathroom sinks to irrigate plants
• Catching rain water from roofs and paved areas for domestic use
• Landscape with drought tolerant, indigenous plants.
• Use of drip irrigation systems rather than hose pipes for watering plants.
All are effective means of water conservation. It is important to remember that one of the best methods of conserving water is to respect the fact that it is a finite resource. Water is relatively inexpensive in Crete, but it should not be wasted, report leaks and do not leave taps running. Just being aware of the amount of water you use can all help.
• USE RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES
There are many ways to conserve the use of fossil fuel with the use of sun or wind to produce electricity is among them.
If you choose this option, to generate your own electricity, you will be forced to be careful in the way you use your electricity because it is limited. Whether you get your electricity from alternative sources or from the grid, it pays to choose energy efficient appliances for example:
• Choose “A” rated or above energy efficient electrical appliances
• Many appliances use electricity by just being plugged in, known as phantom loads, so be sure to avoid them. Remember appliances on standby use considerable amounts of energy
• LED light fittings and bulbs use far less electricity and are now widely available
• Design and build with Energy conservation in mind
• Remember if it’s not in use TURN IT OFF!
• HOW CAN WE HELP?
Our company policy is to constantly investigate, innovate and initiate change and improvement in our buildings and designs to provide the best quality homes with the least environmental impact on our beautiful island.
Crete Island Construction provides a way to communicate with, and learn from, a variety of experts in the many fields. More in-depth consulting is also available for specific energy saving products. So please contact us and we will be happy to assist.