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Advancements in Green Home Buildings – Lessons From Europe

The Green Movement, popular with the Hippies in the early 60s was the precursor for the present interest in building Green homes. The movement caught on in Europe and the United States with some variations along the way. The political authority of the green movement gained significantly with the institution of the German Green Party in 1970s. Many more Green political parties came into being notably in Europe and thus an institutional approach to the green movement was in place in Europe. These Green parties often formed alliances in Europe giving the impetus to the green agenda. A prime example is the green legislation tax passed in the late 1990s by the German government.

Now, nothing of that sort has happened in America. In this country, the Green movement has continued its march without any federal support. During the early years, building green homes was significantly more expensive than normal homes. The American building industry following the pragmatic capitalist line, sought to maximize profits unlike the European builders who had the pressure of the governments and influential NGOs to persevere building green.

One of the popular movements in Europe that has persisted over 30 years is termed Building Biology, and opines that traditional brick and mortar buildings with its ingredients of steel, concrete, plastic foams are unhealthy; it also recommends that naturally occurring local building materials are a better choice. Consequently, over the years, Europeans have been building walls with the help of loam. For insulation, recycled newspaper is a prudent choice. Used bathing water which was till late considered as waste by Americans, can be sensibly utilized for landscaping. The US LEED initiative which aims at bringing green building into the mainstream is still not a federal law. One may look at the French initiative, to implement its local building green norms in the European Union, as a positive influence on the State.

For ages, Americans have built their houses with wood, a cheap and plentiful commodity. The swift expansion of the US construction industry raised import of wood and consequently the loss of substantial tropical rainforest areas. The real estate developers did not see it fit to consider the incalculable harm that was being done to the global environment. The Europeans on the other had very early on understood the likely adverse impact on the environment and commenced forest plantation in their own countries as also using bamboo and other quick growing woods instead of tropical rainforest woods. Wonder why Europe has maintained an ample lead over the United States in building green.

Green Home Design Benefits

Green home designs are getting popular these days and make use of non toxic and long lasting materials as well as recycling. Green home décor also comprises the use of eco-friendly and reusable furnishings, materials and leftovers.

Generally when green materials are used you try to restore and salvage what you already have. There are many choices available with respect to green flooring also. You can also go in for painting and stenciling without the use of materials containing volatile organic compounds.

Green home designs mostly encompass materials such as bamboo, cork and eucalyptus owing to its earth friendly nature and renewable nature. You can make use of cork safely because there is no destruction of trees during extraction of the cork. You can also go in for hardwood flooring which can last a lifetime. But you have to remember that these woods are not green or eco-friendly and are mostly remnants of rain forest tree growth. While selecting woods you can choose something that has the certification and approval of environmental groups.

You must also pay careful though to the use of glues and finishes used in floor installation as they may have toxic synthetic formaldehyde resins. You can at best use non-toxic low to no VOC sealants apart from polishes, finishes, adhesive products and non-toxic cleaners. This will help you have a healthier environment and better indoor air quality as your home will produce less toxins and will be the best place to reside in.

While making use of green home décor, you can also incorporate many glass windows and wall skylights to allow natural lighting in your home. This will help in providing the green design benefits of avoiding and reducing moisture accumulation in a room and will also help you to conserve energy.

You can also choose from a variety of concrete floorings that come in a range of patterns, textures, colors and polishes. This type of flooring also uses no glue or chemicals and hence is not so harmful to your health.

Green home designs in the kitchen incorporate use of concrete counter tops because of their popularity and natural appeal. These can also impart a modern look and style to your bathrooms kitchen and fireplace. You can also make use of Vertrazzo or recycled glass which is another popular choice for green kitchen counter tops. This material comes in an array of colors and can match your home decor perfectly.

Benefits of Green Home Design

Sustainable building and green building practices come with an array of benefits and we hope that as more technology advances and information becomes more readily available, the costs of green building will decrease and become mainstream.

The built environment and infrastructure has a great influence on our natural resources and environment, directly impacting human health and our standards of living. Picture a world built primarily on sustainable practices and intentions. Waste should be considered a crime because we are directly harming one another through harmful building methods. Instead, we hold the power to integrate green construction methods to any building at any stage, from design to construction, deconstruction to renovation. The potential benefits of sustainable building may be unleashed if we just set our minds to it as a whole. It will take the joint efforts of government officials, design and construction teams, and consumers to work together from an early stage of a built project to significantly optimize the sustainable benefits of green building.

The most obvious benefit is environmental. From protecting the biodiversity to delicate ecosystems to improving air and water qualities, the ways in which we gather building materials, the way we construct, the buildings we create, and the technologies we use all play a role in sustaining resources. Reducing waste streams and reducing by-products as much as we can is the most sure-fired way of conserving and restoring our limited natural resources.

A healthier home and living environment should be enough of an incentive for anyone looking for a reason to support and implement green building. Green homes use toxin-free building materials to help resist indoor air pollution. Green homes also have far fewer problems with mildew or nasty toxic mold. While natural ventilation in green homes are widespread, mechanical ventilation systems bring in more fresh air from the outside in while filtering out stale air. A cost efficient home is at the priority of every home-buyer these days and if you calculate all the costs of owning a home, a green home is comparable to and in some circumstances cheaper than owning a standard home. Though you may be dishing out higher upfront costs, in the long run you will be saving on your electricity bill to offset the initial costs.

Insurance companies are more likely to offer lower home insurance rates due to the greater durability, and energy efficiency of green homes. Among other cost saving factors, consider the local, state and federal government incentives and tax breaks for green features to your home, as well as building certified LEED homes. An environmentally friendly home further reduces our dependence on conventional energy while generating alternative sources through green materials and energy sources like geothermal energy, wind and solar power. As green homes gain momentum, so will the survival of our species and quality of life improve.