Long before sustainability was a thing, Feng Shui enabled people to make the most of every scarce resource available to them. Some would argue that Feng Shui may be the original method of building a sustainable home. That being said, many of the methods of Feng Shui are just as relevant today as they ever were.
Feng Shui is an art and science developed in Asia quite some time ago. While some think it is just a form of interior design to attract luck, it actually derives from the idea that the land is alive and filled with energy. Ancient cultures sought to understand correlations between their understanding of the flow of this energy and their surroundings. Their findings from generations of experimentation leaves us with Feng Shui principles that allow us to attract and use various forms of energy with minimal waste.
As it applies to homes, Feng Shui told people how a home should be built and laid out to be mindful of the surrounding land and energy. For instance, a home should have a hill behind it and elements like trees along its side for protection, while the front should have a clear view of the roadway, river, or farm. While having such a site plan has been simplified to mean good luck, it allowed the resident to sleep soundly at the back of the home and provided them a good view of their crops, workers, and people approaching for trade.
Even the direction of a home has much to do with sustainability. In combination with a pitched roof and more windows at the front of a home, as suggested by Feng Shui, a south-facing home will obtain more heat from the sun to warm the home during the winter and deflect heat from the sun during the summer to keep it cooler.
Fortunately today, we don’t have to face all of our homes south to help control the interior climate. We have modern technology like HVAC systems to keep our homes cool and warm at any time of the day or with our homes facing any direction. Modern technology is great and makes our lives much easier, but we are forced to rely on expensive and usually non-renewable gas and electric energy sources to power them. Building a home while keeping in mind the surrounding elements, direction of the sun, changing weather patterns, and indigenous plants and trees in the area, can use significantly less forced energy to maintain our home’s climate.
A good modern Feng Shui home will harness energy from the environment surrounding us. Solar panels and the use of energy efficient windows and reclaimed insulation materials (styrofoam, concrete chips, denim, etc.) allows us to harness and utilize the energy of the sun in ways that couldn’t be imagined by early Feng Shui practitioners. A well-designed home can capture and utilize enough energy to power all of our modern needs while minimizing the need for new materials and chemicals in the building process.
Landscaping is a crucial part of Feng Shui and should be utilized in modern home building. Planting indigenous plants and trees, for instance, requires less maintenance and water. Deciduous can be planted around the home to create muchneeded shade during the summer and more sunlight in the winter when the leaves have fallen, offering even more energy efficiency. Whenever possible, keep some open land in the front or side of homes for small vegetable gardens, which can be watered with greywater plumbing from the home. Feng Shui isn’t an ancient practice utilized by a few. Feng Shui makes sense of sustainability, especially when considering how it was developed to make the most of the land when resources were scarce and technology was limited. Smart home builders recognize that everyone wants to live in a home that is beneficial to their health, wealth, and success —providing for a happy family. Integrating Feng Shui in community and home design recognizes that some traditions were developed for good reason.