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.