Eco Friendly, Green Home Design

Eco friendly and going green is all the rage these days, and for good reason. Consciously choosing eco friendly products and activities can impact your lifestyle and budget positively. Designing a new home gives you a chance to impact the environment on a much larger scale, while also improving your quality of life and lowering skyrocketing energy costs. So how green can you go?

Passive Energy Benefits Through Your Building Lot – Choosing a building lot is important for anyone that is planning on building a new home, but if you want to take advantage of the natural energy sources of the Earth you have an even more difficult decision. Solar power is well known, but the sun can heat your home in two other important ways as well. One is just by passively allowing heat in through your windows. Choosing a lot that has great southern exposure that isn’t blocked by other buildings and trees can help you take advantage of this passive heat. Your architect can design your home by placing windows and overhangs in the right positions to accept heat during the winter and block heat during the summer so your energy costs as are low as possible. A lot that is next to a pond or lake for geothermal heating can also help.

Heating – Once you’ve chosen a lot that passively heats your home, you can expand your green options with solar paneling or geothermal heating. Solar panels obviously collect the suns rays and turn it into energy for your home. Geothermal heating takes advantage of the Earth’s ability to store the suns rays in the dirt below your feet. The Earth is consistently at a temperature around 54 degrees, so geothermal systems bring this heat up to your home making it easier to heat or cool your home. A pond or lake that is at least 8 feet deep can do the same thing.

Paint and Building Material Finishes – If you’ve ever been in a room that has just been painted, you know how many fumes are released. Gases are given off of paint and other build materials like caulk continuously, so looking for materials that have low or no VOC’s will impact your living environment and mother nature. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids and include chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects

Cabinets, Counter tops, and Flooring – No matter what type of house plan you want designed, flooring and cabinets are some of the biggest things you will think about. VOC’s are found in many cabinets and flooring materials, so you want something with low or no VOC’s. You also want something that is sustainable (meaning there is no danger of the materials being depleted) like bamboo that grows quickly. Buying locally is a great way to go green, so support your local companies!

Lighting – CFL’s are available in many traditional shapes now, so choosing and designing a lighting plan can be done around these energy efficient options.

Gray and Rain Water Systems – Gray water is water that has been used for things like washing dishes and doing laundry. A gray water system will take the water that is produced from these activities and reroute it to flush toilets or into irrigation systems to get more usage out of the water. Rain water systems collect rain to use for watering plants or other uses.

Vegitative Roof – Designing a home that includes a green roof can help lower energy costs by allowing plants to soak up the suns rays that would typically beat down on the roof, extend the life of the roof, help filter toxins out of rain water, and of course add interest to your roof.

In addition to these options, your architect can discuss designing a home with a tight envelope using SIPs or other building options to help lower your energy costs even further. With just a little research your new dream home design could pay off for years to come.

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.