Green sustainable housing: nature house guide, Forest passive home tips, Eco property advice

Green Sustainable Housing: Nature House

7 September 2022

People imagine different things when it comes to their dream home because we all have different dreams. Still, we all want a home that makes us feel comfortable and safe. Those of us who look at the planet as our home and want to be as close to nature as possible often feel trapped in brick, concrete, or steel buildings that feel cold, impersonal, and foreign from nature, but those aren’t the only options at our disposal.

Green sustainable housing: nature house

As human beings, we are dependent on nature, but in more ways than we are consciously aware of. We need nature to survive, but not only for food and water. The way in which we need nature goes beyond our physical needs and beyond what we can take from nature. You probably noticed how stress subsides after you spend some time outdoors.

Yes, in part, that happens due to the physical exercise, but it doesn’t feel quite the same if you use your peloton bike. Nature gives us exactly what our fast-paced, hectic, and stressful 9 to 5 jobs take from us. It gives us an inner peace that can not be matched by anything else, and we sadly live in a world that makes it difficult to access nature on a daily basis.

While there are many ways to get access to that inner peace, green sustainable housing is the only way to ensure you have constant access to that serene feeling you get. This accessibility is increased tenfold if you manage to build that passive home close to or in a forest. For this type of living, there is no better example than the 100% passive sustainable home built by the Hjertefølger family in Norway’s northern region on the Sandhornøya island in the Arctic Circle.

A Home where Nature is at Home

Life in the Arctic Circle isn’t easy. Dealing with some of the harshest conditions known to men in the harshest climate on Earth only leads one to think of long, incredibly cold winters and short summers that barely warm your skin. That’s not the case for the Hjertefølger’s, a family of six that has been living in their home since December of 2013. And no, they don’t need ten layers of clothes.

Their three-story home, which they built themselves, is encased in a 25-foot-high solar geodesic dome made of 360 panels of ¼-inch thick single-panes glass and a recycled aluminum frame from Solardome Industries. The lovingly named Nature Home is the result of their labor of love, as the family wanted nothing more than to create a caring, natural, and warm environment for their children to grow. It took them 2 years to build, but besides the glass dome, they were fully responsible for the construction of the property.

The home has five bedrooms, an in-dome garden that provides them with fresh fruits and vegetables almost year-round, a terrace on the roof, and plenty of play area for their four children. Still, it’s the way in which the home works that makes it stand out from any other sustainable, green, eco-friendly, passive housing.

Green sustainable housing - mountain house lake

Nature giveth, Nature taketh Away

A phrase like that might lead you to believe that nature manages their property when, in fact, they manage nature through their property. Any water that is used is cleaned before being released back into nature. The same happens with any waste. Nothing that is consumed inside the home creates waste, and the home functions as a part of the local ecosystem. The family composts any waste that is generated and uses it for their garden. The greywater resulting from living in the home is used to water their plants.

Watching the well-crafted short film and tour of the Hjertefølgerne (The Heart Followers) will give you a glimpse at this property that leaves most environmentalists at a loss for words, but we’ll go one step further. Seeing as there is no other way that accurately describes what it means to live in a home like this, enjoy their presentation short film. After you view their presentation, we’ll look at the specifics of this property to make it clear as day that this design should be implemented in architectural styles across the globe.

Borrow Nature’s Greatest Gifts

The Hjertefølger’s dream home wasn’t easy to bring to life. Once they decided on the area, they needed a way to be able to live in the home they were building as they were aware of the harsh environment of the Arctic Circle. Thus, a collaboration started between the family and Solardome Industries, an advocate of sustainability throughout their projects. The order required protection from the harsh Arctic Circle conditions like high winds and extreme snowfall, long-lasting maintenance of uniform temperature within the dome, and reduced ultraviolet exposure to limit building maintenance. For their aim of a sustainable lifestyle, the dome also needed to work as a greenhouse for the abundance of plant life that would otherwise be unable to survive in the harsh Northern European climate. Still, to allow fresh air to move through the dome when desired freely, 11 of these glass panels work as windows.

Once the dome was erected, the construction of the actual house began. From the start of the project, the Hjertefølger’s were set on only using natural materials that create zero waste even at the end of their life cycle. The building is made entirely from a mixture of clay, straw, and sand. They used cob, natural fireproof material for its fire-resistant, earth-quake resistant, and affordable properties.

Any electrical needs are covered by the array of solar panels that power the home, providing an incredibly low cost of running the house with minimal environmental impact. As for water, while we did hint at how they use this vital resource, the innovative irrigation system they implemented recycles every drop of water used in the home to ensure the plants in their garden get the nourishment they need to grow toxin-free produce. Of course, the fact that they are vegetarian makes the whole food situation that much more environmentally friendly.

The interior of the home is made out of entirely natural, salvaged, and repurposed materials with a rustic flair and zen-like spaces. Only the bathroom shows signs of consumer products like the oval-shaped freestanding bathtub, but other than that, even the artwork on the walls is made by them. You can see, feel and sense the personality of the home and how amazing it was designed for the needs of each individual in the family. From boho-style printed cushions to colorful tapestries and cozy corners, every square foot of this home has a purpose, a meaning, a sense, and a role in how the Hjertefølger’s live their lives.

Now, we couldn’t wrap up this article without covering the issue of cost, expenses, and comparison to normal homes. Well, the entire cost of this true nature oasis can be translated into around $370,000. That seems affordable even for US standards but get this. The median home price for an average home (not one with 5 bedrooms) in 2013, when this house was built, was around $490,000. In other words, building a fully sustainable home in Norway was cheaper back then than buying a normal one. A true home oasis. A home for the heart. A home for the Heart Followers.

Green sustainable housing Conclusion

A fully sustainable and 100% eco-friendly home shouldn’t be something we can only dream of. It should become the norm already. It’s time. We need it, and the planet needs it. The Hjertefølger family made it possible and showed us all that with enough determination, love, and passion for the natural world. We can find harmony within life and live in balance with the elements, keeping them at bay without harming them while using what nature provides in the best way possible.

Life in the Arctic Circle doesn’t have to be as impossible as the weather will have us believe. The incredible home designed by the Hjertefølger’s proves as much, and their lifestyle should be a testament to how we can change our way of life to live in harmony with our environment instead of destroying it.

As Ingrid Hjertefølger says, “I think that if everyone fulfilled their dreams and did the things they were good at, the world would function wonderfully.” Being a dreamer doesn’t have to be limited to the realm of dreams; the Hjertefølger’s are proof of that. They inspire others simply through their way of life; we don’t even have to reinvent the wheel. All we have to do is follow in their footsteps.

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