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6 Tips for Building an Affordable, Environmentally-Friendly Home

Updated: Jul 5, 2023


Wellington Builders | Design & Architecture Services | Eco-Friendly Design | High Performing Home | Structural Insulated Panels | Energy-Efficient Home

Dining room with white chair and tables, plants and other decorative elements around

Ooooh, we love a proud Kiwi moment in this fine country, don't we? If you're nodding in agreement, you'll be excited to learn that New Zealand is fast becoming a leader in the environmentally friendly building space. Yes! Little old New Zealand, leading the pack once again! Although the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change set a global target to be net zero by 2050, we thought - "Ha! We can do better than that", and the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC) set our own personal target of 2030! (Woohoo! Go us!)

SIDE NOTE: Did you know that the NZGBC created by the construction and property industry was first established in 2006 and was one of only six green building councils in the world at that time?

Wellington builders Green Abode, are fully embracing that net-zero target. We are doing our bit to minimise wastage and recycle leftover materials. We've also been listening to Kiwis tell us about their goals to build homes that leave a smaller carbon footprint on the earth, and we have adopted some seriously forward-thinking building practices and smart materials to help our clients do just that!

Now, we know what you might be thinking, "it's all well and good to build a 'green home', but how much more will it cost me than a traditional build?" Don't stress; we have you covered! If you are looking to build an environmentally friendly home that doesn't cost the earth (pun intended), this blog article is for you!

Here are six tips to build an affordable AND environmentally friendly home!


Once you’ve found your ideal section, pay attention to flora and fauna native to the area. When designing your home, it’s important to bear in mind that whatever you do in nature will affect the wider ecosystem. More than 63% of New Zealand’s original forest has been converted to farmland, urban land and roading, which has destroyed the habitats of thousands of species.

There are other ways of being kinder to the landscape too. Building on a flat section instead of a sloping one requires fewer earthworks, which will also mean reducing your costs. Other options worth considering are transportable homes. Being constructed in a factory tends to minimise waste in addition to cutting travel costs to and from remote sites. Material cut-offs can also be used on another transportable home. Win, win! Of course, another plus of building inside an industrial site means there are no weather-related interruptions.


A well-designed, sustainable home makes use of natural resources:

- Sun for light and heat

- Wind for ventilation and power

- Rainwater collection for drinking, washing, irrigation, etc.

By utilising FREE natural resources, your reliance on non-renewable energy lessens as well as reduces the impact on your wallet.

We can't begin to discuss a cost-effective, environmentally friendly home without considering the building materials you will use. It might be well worth the time to visit your local recycling centre. Many of these places are jam-packed with materials that cost a fraction of the price of what you would pay for their brand-new equivalents.

Whether you opt for recycled or new materials, you will also be saving money and the environment by incurring less transport and fuel emission costs if you source locally.


When it comes to material options, first, think about what will be fit for purpose. Second, you want to choose building materials that are non-toxic, sustainably sourced and recyclable or biodegradable at the end of their life.

A good way to discern the suitability of a material for your environmentally-friendly home is to conduct a simple lifecycle assessment. Your architect or designer should help with this (LCAQuick is a free Life Cycle Assessment tool that BRANZ has developed to help with sustainable design decisions). If you would like more detail on environmentally friendly products, check out:


The most sustainable approach to building is to think long-term. This means that although you may wish to build your dream home tailored specifically to your family’s current needs, the responsible approach would be to design with future generations in mind. In practice, this would mean having spaces that can be easily transformed to fit future needs while remaining functional and comfortable.

Having an adaptable design accommodates lifestyle changes over the years without demolishing or making large changes to the building’s structure or services. An example of this would be a room that starts its’ life off as a baby’s bedroom and can later be transformed into an office space or guest bedroom once the child has left home. Another idea could be having wider doorways that could accommodate wheelchairs to move around effortlessly. Avoiding wasted space wherever possible - such as passages – will also give you more of a blank canvas to work with.

If your home is flexible enough to adapt to different lifestyle changes, the longer you’re likely to live in it. This also means less impact on the environment.


Recycling energy is reusing energy that would normally be wasted and converting it into electricity or thermal energy. A decent ventilation system has the ability to recycle warm stale air, rather than expelling or wasting it by opening a window and letting it out. With a ventilation system, you get fresh, warm air constantly circulating through your house during winter or recycled cool air in the summertime.

Being able to recycle energy in this way is a brilliant way to save on power costs!


The better we integrate the outdoors into our homes, the more we will feel connected to nature. Nature never goes out of style! You can achieve a warm and inviting feel that stands the test of time by using natural fibres, textures, colours, and patterns that reflect what surrounds the house in its local environment. Using natural flooring (wood, stone, etc.) instead of artificial materials is another great way to enhance the beauty and longevity of your build.

“Green walls” are also a fantastic way of incorporating nature into the interior of the house. Not only are these vertical gardens beautiful, but they help to purify the air and contribute to the physical and mental well-being of the inhabitants.

You might also want to consider a design that allows you to view as much nature as possible from the inside - whether through floor-to-ceiling windows or skylights. Incorporating large, strategically placed windows will also allow more natural light into the house.

For more information on how to design an affordable, environmentally-friendly home, check out:

Whether you're pumped to get started ASAP, or you're still not convinced that building a 'green' abode can be cost-effective, we would love to hear from you. We are more than happy to answer your questions and/or discuss ideas and options for your specific site, location, and project. Contact Us

We are excited to show you just how affordable building sustainably can be!

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