Green Homes – Green Home Building For Eco Friendly Living

Green homes are houses that are kinder to the planet. They use lesser energy, produce less waste, and are a healthier environment for the people inside. Green homes come out of a philosophy of being more eco-friendly to the environment. They save on electricity, find ways to cut down on carbon-waste and general energy consumption. Green homes can put money in your pocket, and give you the peace of mind you are doing your bit to help sustain our planet.

Energy

Most of us would to make the world a little “greener” by reducing our home energy consumption. There has been improvement in building techniques and materials over the last couple of decades, which means that homes are becoming more energy efficient. Do you dream of a house with no carbon emissions and zero-net-energy use? This can be achieved with a strategy that includes alternative energy sources, and conscientious fabrication methods and standards. We can channel in green energy into our homes without breaking the bank. There are DIY home energy programs that cost thousands of dollars but there are also DIY Solar and wind turbine schemes that will only cost a few hundred dollars, and that can be implemented without great technical skills. You can reach your goal of a Zero Energy Home, and it maybe just a couple of steps away…

Design: Living Green Designer Homes

When we think of eco friendly homes, or sustainable homes, we probably have an image of an odd-looking place? Too many panels and windmills all over it, maybe half buried on a hill, or too high tech for our budget? That may have been the case once but it’s now possible to design a home that is beautiful, and will give you a degree of independence from both present and future water and energy cost increases and shortages There is evidence of a growing concern about environmental and design issues. There is information available from government from which you can learn about design of green buildings for energy conservation. Good modern design standards readily integrate sustainable features such as rainwater collection, alternative power sources, grey water recycling, solar hot water and water efficient landscaping.

Sustainability

In December 2006, The Code for Sustainable Homes was introduced as a voluntary code in the UK and by May 2008 has become a national standard. It rates the key elements of design and construction which impact upon sustainability and efficiency. It is used by architects, builders and consumers alike in helping them plan and design new homes. The code awards new homes a star rating from 1 to 6, based on their performance against 9 sustainability criteria which assess the overall environmental impact. These are model green home building guidelines!

Building regulations require at least One Star. Six Stars reflects exemplary sustainability.The sustainability criteria by which new homes are measured are:

Energy and CO2 Emissions

Water H20 & Surface Water Run-off

Materials

Waste

Pollution

Health and Well-Being

Management of the environmental impacts of the construction and operation

Ecology

The key is to achieve sustainability without compromising either design or quality. The Code introduces minimum standards for energy and environmental factors affecting the sustainability of a home, and the rating takes into account different elements of sustainability. These include energy, transport, pollution, materials, land use and ecology and health and well-being. The UK Government has set the industry a target of delivering zero-carbon homes by 2016.

The aim of sustainable homes is to deliver real improvements in key areas such as carbon dioxide emissions and water use.

Carbon

Carbon reduction is high on the political agenda of all nations, yet there is a clear struggle for governments to come to terms with the measures that must be taken to achieve the reduction goals that our best science tells us is needed. Much can be achieved by action at the household level that can drastically reduce the enormity of the tasks that faces governments looking at the problems on a macro scale. Motivation for the changes that are needed is key, as it is in anything great but difficult that we strive for. One ‘carrot’ in the budget for households is the direct benefit of reduced energy bills achieved by making an effort to reduce their own carbon pollution. In the UK, London Green Homes service uniquely offers a free telephone advice service, a website and a paid-for green service to provide a free tailor-made package of carbon saving lifestyle improvements. The service has great flexibility, offering Londoners advice on a broad range of actions to reduce carbon emissions from lifestyle changes; and explains how best to save money on energy bills. It is the UK’s first one-stop-shop for information on how to make homes more carbon efficient.

Environmental

A US survey has shown that 87% of home buyers want to know how their homes rate in terms of environmental performance in order to make an informed decision when moving house. Further, 84% would pay an average 2% more for an eco-friendly home. Environmentally friendly homes are no longer a luxury reserved only for the richest Americans. Environmental concerns, dependence on foreign oil, water shortages, vanishing species, are all factors in an increasing the awareness of the call for us to be better stewards of the earth and its resources.

In this environmentally aware world, we are hearing more about green homes, eco friendly living and sustainable homes. Green homes that are designed to be energy efficient, use environmentally friendly and healthy materials and conserver water are becoming the standard. In addition to new building standards, there are simple environmentally friendly, DIY projects that will help curb energy costs, and improve your homes value.

Space is still the most important consideration for home buyers, but environmental considerations and use of eco-friendly materials are very high on the list of priorities. Architectural firms today are often committed to developing creative yet environmentally sustainable components of space for the betterment of lifestyle and family in a way that supports responsible stewardship of the environment and natural resources. Green living and building, with an emphasis on health, energy efficiency and environmental conservation, has never been more relevant than it is today. As time goes on, there will be more attention given to advocating for socially just and environmentally-minded rebuilding solutions. Home-building imposes very significant environmental and social costs at all levels. Impacts of new home construction include:

quarrying to provide basic raw construction materials like aggregates,

water consumption, and the widespread use of toxic

chemicals in building materials.

Conclusion

Green homes can put money in your pocket, they don’t need to be thought of as an expensive way to do what’s demanded of us for the environment. Sustainable homes give you peace of mind from knowing that you are doing everything you can to help sustain the planet. Sustainable homes don’t have to be unattractive anymore, and unsuitable for residential architecture. Green homes are better for the environment because they use less energy, less water, and have a lower impact on the environment

The Best of Green Home Designs

Green home designs use materials, furniture, and accessories that are environmentally friendly or reusable. This type of design uses long lasting materials as well as those that can be renewed. Green home designs focus on recycling material and making sure that material is non-toxic. Green home designs use very few items that are brand new. Green materials such as cork, bamboo and eucalyptus are primarily use today in home design because they are earth friendly. For example, the extraction of the cork does not destroy the tree. Being green means that you will salvage or restore items whenever possible.

There are so many options in today’s market for green flooring. These flooring materials can be sand down, painted, or refinished. All this can be done with using material that contains volatile organic compounds or VOC’s. The finishes and glue used for some floor installations can contain formaldehyde resins. It is important to use non-toxic materials with little to no VOC within the sealants, cleaners, finishes, adhesives, polishes, etc. As a result you will create a home that has less toxicity in the air and is healthier for the planet.

Nothing is guaranteed 100%, so even buying materials with little to no VOC doesn’t assure you that it is completely safe. This is because there are so many chemicals produced today. Regardless of that, if you want to remodel your home using green home design techniques, you need to select products that are environmentally healthy.

Every area of your home can benefit from green design. When constructing or renovating your home, be sure to install many windows, glass doors, skylights to allow the natural light to enter. These measures conserve energy and make the home bright and inviting. Concrete floors are very stylish, an come in many patterns, colors, and textures. This flooring is one of the greenest because you can install it without the uses of chemicals like glue or finishes. Concrete can also be used as kitchen counter tops, which have become very popular. They are natural in appearance and create a modern looking style. This material also works well in the bathroom and on the fireplace. Recycled glass is another option for green kitchens. This is a very versatile product that can come in different colors. Try recycled glass as a kitchen counter top, back splash, or even tiles. Recycled glass is a great alternative in green kitchen design. Green Building Supply provides recycled glass in various sizes. The prices range from $1,129.00 to $4,223.00 for 30″ x 54″ to 60″ x 108″ slabs, and each are 1 1/4″ thick. You choose from five different color palettes.

Appliances are major purchases for you home. You need to think about function, and style, but most importantly energy saving capability. Whirlpool sells a Whirlpool Black 21.7 Energy Star Certified Side by Side Refrigerator for $765.00; item #ED2KVEXVB. Energy efficient appliances are readily available in the market today. It is actually very easy to to find appliance that save energy and water usage, and there is something for every budget. Be sure to recycle your old appliance properly.

When planning green home design, install a lot insulation for your ceiling and walls. This the best way to help your house be energy efficient. Make sure the the insulation material is earth-friendly. High quality glass windows, doors, and skylight with multiple panes help to also conserve energy. The cost of energy is steadily increasing. Being energy conscious makes good economic sense. After your initial investment, you will save money, reducing the world’s exposure to harmful chemicals, and aid the environment.

The 4 Basic Elements to Building a Green Home

Green building is more than the actual construction of your home, though that is a big part of the process. It is a beginning to end process which begins with the selection of your land, the design of your dream home, the materials and practices used during construction and finally, how you operate and maintain your dream home once it is completed. You can incorporate as many or as few of these elements into your home’s design as you choose.

You decide how “Green” you want to be.

Let’s look at the four basic elements in Green Building:

1. Increasing energy efficiency

2. Materials selected for building your home

3. Increasing the efficiency of water usage both in and outside of your home

4. Improving air quality, which improves the health and productivity of your family

There are many parts to each element. Let’s look at each of these in a little more detail

1. Increasing Energy Efficiency

  • Advanced Framing – Use a framing contractor who can apply advanced framing technique during the construction of your home. This creates a structurally sound home with improved energy efficiency, and lowers material and labor costs. This technique replaces lumber with insulation material and maximizes the wall that is insulated, improving the R-value of the home. On average, advanced framing uses 30% less lumber, which reduces the building costs and saves 2% to 4% of the total energy use.
  • Hot Water Heater – Water heating can account for 14% to 25% of the energy consumed in your home. To increase the efficiency of your hot water heater, locate it near the highest point of usage. This is typically near the shower followed closely by the clothes washer.
  • Pipes – Insulate the hot and cold water pipes within 3 feet of the hot water heater. This reduces standby heat loss. Your hot water heater is continuously heating the piping and water in it, even when no water is being used.
  • Household Appliances – A green built home features appliances that are as energy efficient as possible. The U. S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have developed a program called Energy Star which labels those appliances meeting strict energy efficient criteria. The typical household spends $1,900 a year on energy bills. As you can see in the diagram above, a great deal of that energy is consumed by the appliances in your home.
    • ENERGY STAR qualified appliances incorporate advanced technologies that use 10-50% less energy and water than standard models. Just look for the Energy Star label. The Federal Trade Commission requires that refrigerators, freezers, water heaters, washing machines, dishwashers and window air conditioners be labeled with an Energy Guide Label.
    • The label for a hot water heater is shown here. This hot water heater uses 268 therms per year of energy and is being compared to other similar models which use anywhere from 238 to 273 therms per year. This model’s estimated yearly operating cost is $162.When comparing different appliance brands for your new home, be sure to look at their estimated energy consumption. This will impact the operating cost of your home for years to come.
  • Air Sealing – This is advanced caulking which is a part of the airtight drywall approach (ADA). Specifically, caulk or gasket drywall is installed on exterior walls at the top and bottom plates, windows and door frames; on interior walls at the intersections with exterior ceilings; and at electrical, plumbing or mechanical penetrations in the drywall. This approach minimizes heat loss in your home. Work with your drywall contractor to see if he/she uses this method.
  • Radiant Barrier – Reflect heat away from your home by installing a radiant barrier (a sheet of aluminum foil with paper backing) on the underside of your roof. This significantly lowers your cooling costs by reducing your heat gains through your ceiling by 95%.
  • Insulation – Add insulation to your attic to keep the heat in your house. There are some environmentally friendly insulation products made from recycled blue jeans, soybeans, cotton or newspapers.
  • Solar Power – If the sun shines on your home for most of the day in the winter, you have the potential for solar power to reduce your energy costs. A good solar design allows the winter sun to reach a thermal mass like a tile floor which holds heat and radiates it into your home for a period of time.
  • Lighting – Install high-efficiency lighting systems with advanced lighting controls. This allows you to only use the light when you need it. Replace traditional incandescent lights with energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs. These bulbs will use 75% less electricity and last up to 10 times longer. When designing your home or remodeling project, introduce natural daylight into as many places as possible.
  • Thermostat – Use a programmable thermostat to provide you and your family the comfort you want day and night while minimizing heating use when you don’t need it.
  • Ducts – Seal your ducts with mastic and insulate them to R-11. This minimizes the heat loss from your home.
  • Paints – You can mix non-toxic ceramic powder into your interior paint to insulate your walls and reduce the amount of heat passing through to the outside. These ceramic particles create a radiant barrier that reflects the heat back into the room.
  • Redirect The Heat – If you have a ceiling fan, redirect the heat back into your room by reversing the direction of the blades to counterclockwise. This brings the heat back down into your room.

2. Materials Selected for Building Your Home

  • Plastic Lumber – This product can be used for non-structural applications such as fences, benches, decks, retaining walls, and picnic tables. It is weather and insect resistant, and will not crack, splinter or chip. It does not need painting and will not leach chemicals into the ground or surface water. By doing this, you minimize the amount of lumber used in your home, reduce your ongoing maintenance costs, and you won’t harm your local habitat.

The US is home to 4.5% of the population but is responsible for over 15% of the world’s wood consumption.

  • Engineered Wood – This combines the raw materials of wood veneer and fiber with adhesives to produce such laminated lumber as wood veneers, I-beams and roof and floor trusses. The manufacturing process uses fast growing, small diameter trees, allowing more than 80% of the log to be used in the end product. This produces a product which is very consistent and stable while decreasing the impact on a natural resource.
  • Fiber Cement Siding – This is a composite of cement and wood fiber reclaimed from wood processing waste or small diameter, fast growing trees. It produces a siding which is durable and low maintenance. Many fiber-cement composites offer a 50-year warranty, which increases the value of your home and decreases the maintenance costs.
  • Brick -The process of extracting clay for brick results in limited wasted material. Brick has a limitless lifespan and can be recycled or salvaged after demolition.
  • Recycling – The efficient use of materials when building Green comes in two forms. First, recycle construction waste and use reclaimed building materials during construction when appropriate. Once your home is finished, practice responsible recycling of the materials you use every day.
  • Design – When working with your architect or designer, use standard dimensions, engineered wood and stacked floor plans to reduce the overall volume of lumber used as well as the volume of waste.

3. Increasing the Efficiency of Water Usage Both In and Outside of Your Home

  • Porous Paving Schemes – Watertight, or “impervious,” surfaces suchas paved driveways, walkways and patios don’t allow storm water runoff to infiltrate into the ground’s aquatic systems. Using uncompacted gravel, crushed stone and open or porous paving blocks for walkways and other light traffic areas minimizes the number of impervious surfaces on your property, allowing storm water runoff.
  • Rainwater Collection – Rainwater collected from your roof is a free source of landscape irrigation water. This collection system consists of a suitable roof and guttering system, a storage tank and a simple filtration unit.
  • Low Impact Development (LID) – This innovative approach mimics your land’s original method of water run-off instead of disposing and treating storm water in large, costly, end-of-pipe facilities. This can come in the form of open spaces, vegetated rooftops, reduced street widths and curbs, pervious parking lots and sidewalks, medians and other buffer zones using more vegetation.
  • Plumbing – Design your home to use recycled water for toilet flushing. Use ultra low-flush toilets and low-flow shower heads.

Some older toilets use 3-7 gallons per flush while an ultra low-flow toilet uses less than 1.6 gallons per flush.

A family of 4, each showering for 5 minutes per day will use 700 gallons of water per week – a 3 year drinking supply for 1 person in the US. Using a high performance shower head uses 1 – 1.5 gallons of water per minute – up to 60% less than a traditional shower head.

  • In Your Yard – Mulch exposed soils in your garden beds and improve that soil with compost to a depth of 8-13 inches to increase the ability to hold water. Select plants that have low water and pesticide needs. Planting trees not only beautifies your yard, but will also increase the value of your home while decreasing your impact on the environment. A single mature tree can provide nearly $300 in energy and resource values in terms of cooling, erosion and pollution control. Plus they reduce your “carbon foot print.”

Putting the right plants in the right place and developing quality, healthy soil means less watering in the summer, less need for chemicals and less waste to worry about.

  • Chemicals – Avoid outdoor chemicals and fix oil and other fluid leaks to prevent contamination of the water runoff.

According to the NY State Attorney General’s office, 95% of pesticides used on residential lawns are considered possible carcinogens by the EPA.

  • Hot water – Use recirculating systems for centralized hot water distribution or utilize “on demand” systems vs. traditional hot water tanks.

4. Improving Air Quality, Which Improves the Health and Productivity of Your Family

The EPA ranks indoor pollution among the top 5 environmental risks. Unhealthy air is found in up to 30% of new and renovated buildings. The electricity generated by fossil fuels for a single home puts more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than 2 average cars.

  • Carpet – Using a low pile or less allergen attracting carpet and pad greatly improves air quality. Wool or PET carpet (made from recycled pop bottles) are good choices. In addition, at installation, have the carpet tacked down, not glued, to reduce pollutants. Many Green Built designs minimize the use of carpeted surfaces, replacing them with hard surfaces which don’t have these pollutants and are easier to keep free of dust, mold and mildew.
  • Paints – Use low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds, such as formaldehyde) paints.
  • Ventilation – While you want to seal your home to prevent heat loss, this creates a need for mechanical ventilation. Ventilation can be provided by quiet fans with automatic controls or by heat recovery ventilators. Talk to your HVAC contractor for the best system for your home’s design.
  • Construction materials – To prevent microbial contamination, select materials that are resistant to microbial growth.
  • Drainage – Provide effective drainage from the roof and surrounding landscape, as well as allow proper drainage of air conditioning coils.
  • Window treatments – Avoid synthetic window coverings or those that cannot be cleaned easily.

Even though there is a lot to think about when using Green Building techniques and principles, it is manageable and doable. We here at UBuildIt can help you work with your architect or designer, subcontractors and suppliers to help you build or remodel your dream home while minimizing your impact on the environment. Taking the time to plan and build or remodel your dream home using UBuildIt and Green Building will positively impact you and generations to come.