Eco-friendly Homes: An Islamic perspective

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

HUMAN activity promotes careless consumption of natural resources and this has had severe impact on the conditions of our climate, vegetation, population that will ultimately result in unpredictable natural disasters continuously taking place. The increase in global warming, natural disasters, pollution and the decrease in natural resources have become elements which push us to change our lifestyles. Many traditional homes consume a lot of electricity or contribute heavily to our carbon footprint. Eco-friendly homes are becoming a more popular alternatives; for many reasons including sustainability, cost-effectiveness and also encourage the use of natural materials which do not compromise the natural well-being of our forests. These homes reduce the amount of toxic chemicals and green house gases released into the air damaging our environment.

Sustainability is mentioned numerous times in holy Al-Quran and is strongly emphasised and encouraged in Islam. The role of man in this universe is to utilise less consumer-oriented lifestyles and develop the earth for the benefits of the mankind and living organisms. This is emphasised in a Hadith which states “there is a reward in doing good to every living thing.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

Moreover, Allah (SWT) has assigned human beings as vicegerents (khilafa) on earth. As vicegerents we have been entrusted to maintain, care for and ensure sustainability of our environment. Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him) states “The world is beautiful and verdant, and verily God, be He exalted, has made you His stewards in it, and He sees how you acquit yourselves.” (Sahih Muslim) Furthermore the holy Al-Quran goes on to say “And He has set within it mountains standing firm, and blessed it, and ordained in it its diverse sustenance in four days, alike for all that seek.” (Quran 41:10).

Eco-friendly homes are constructed from sustainable energy efficient resources such as wind and solar energy. These eco-friendly materials are sustainable, durable and are easy to use alternatives which reduce our carbon footprint. Solar heating for water is a very good alternative to electrical water heating which will help utilise the many hours of sunshine we get in a tropical climate like Brunei. The use of recycled materials is a crucial element and these materials are readily available such as recycled rubber, wood, and concrete which are the main components used in constructing these homes. Roofing can be constructed using rubber, and bamboo can be used to construct both the interior and exterior of the home.

Wind energy is a renewable energy resource which is frequently used as an energy resource for power lighting and appliances in common areas. Some windows are manufactured from thermo panes which are designed to save energy and increase efficiency and reduce consumption. These windows resemble double-glazed windows that reduce noise from the outside which may disturb people.

These homes will enable us to follow in the trend of ensuring sustainability and fulfilling our duty in looking after the planet we have been entrusted with. There are several alternatives used in the construction of eco-friendly homes. An example of this is bamboo which absorbs four times as much carbon dioxide then trees; it also grows quickly and is very durable. Waste material such as recycled masonry coming from torn down buildings is often burnt in landfills. This material can be utilised and used as concrete which will prevent many toxic chemicals from been released when it is burnt in landfills.

Many contractors and architects are opting for eco-friendly homes which have become a profitable business all around the world. For instance, in the United States eco-friendly and very affordable homes are been built using Tumbleweed as the main resource.

Moreover, many countries are opting to construct environmentally friendly cities. For instance China has constructed an entire city to consume wind energy as their source of power. In addition, Dubai is currently constructing a solar village called Dubai’s Vertical Village to utilise the heat from the desert. The building consists of residential, hotel and entertainment facilities. The Village includes a solar roof which transports energy and divides the field up of using renewable energy for the homes main source of energy into more manageable segments.

Our homes can also be adjusted to ensure they are eco-friendly by ensuring air tight windows are installed which reduce energy consumption, using eco-friendly paint for walls, using energy efficient light bulbs, installing water conserving toilets and showers and reusing old bricks. Composting toilets may also be considered as an alternative to traditional toilets which consume too much water.

Some furniture retailers sell furniture manufactured from recycled materials which has not been produced in factories that produce a lot of toxic waste in their production. Energy efficient appliances are a great way in promoting eco-friendliness. Apart from doing their jobs, they also reduce heavy consumption of energy. These appliances range from dishwashers, refrigerators to washers and dryers as well.

By choosing to follow in these trends we are exercising the right and moral duty Allah (SWT) has given us to utilise natural resources to be used qualitatively.

Moreover, it enables us to avoid causing degradation to the environment and exploiting natural resources unwisely to destroy our planet which Allah (SWT) has warned of strong consequences for doing so in the holy Al-Quran.

Sarah Saad is a freelance writer

The Brunei Times

This piece is taken from the website of the Brunei Times.

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