Green homes stem from an overall concert for their environment. Their design, materials, and systems set them apart from conventional homes. For example, green homes outperform conventional homes these areas:
Environment / Site: Landscaping which focuses on using native plants has a positive effect on the site by reducing irrigation, pesticides, and fertilizers. Tree selection and preservation can reduce energy costs by creating buffers from winter winds and providing shade for summer.
Home Design: Using passive solar design techniques such as maximizing southern exposure and south-facing windows helps keep the home warm in winter and increases natural light. Green homes have a minimal footprint, which keep energy costs low.
Exterior Shell: Energy efficient materials such as SIPs panels (structural insulated panels) and ICF (insulated concrete form) foundations provide a thermal barrier against winter cold and summer heat. Energy efficient windows with low-E coatings reflect infrared light which helps heat the home in winter and cool the home in summer.
Building Materials: Durable, low maintenance, recycled materials for the roof, siding, decks, porches, trim, and fencing reduce replacement costs, save money on installation, protect against water and insects, and provide longer warranties. Purchasing pre-built factory components uses raw materials efficiently, reduces on-site waste, and energy costs to deliver materials to the site.
Heating, Cooling, and Water Systems: Green homes use less energy than conventional homes. Having heating and cooling equipment and water systems correctly sized for the home saves money. Water conservation techniques such as reducing overall consumption by specifying low-flow water fixtures, low-flush or composting toilets, installing aerators on all taps and nozzles and installing grey water systems reduces energy costs and water usage. Solar and geothermal systems heat and cool the space in green homes and provide hot water, reducing dependence on fossil fuels.
Interior: Green homes include natural interior products such as Marmoleum (made with flax, rosins, and wood fiber), wood, concrete, wool carpet, tile, local slate, and cork. Also, low odor / low VOC (volatile organic compound) paints and environmentally-friendly finishes for wood and stone help create a healthy indoor environment. ENERGY STAR appliances contribute, using an average of 30% less energy over standard appliances.
Green homes are designed to combine systems, materials, and features reduce energy and impact to the surrounding environment. Naturally you have questions. Consult with a green architect to design an energy efficient home you will be able to enjoy for years to come.