Have you heard about green homes? Are you curious what makes a home green? The picture shows a green home though that may not be exactly what you had in mind. A lot of things can make a home green and even the experts cannot agree on what exactly makes a home green. Some say the greenest home is one that is already built, others say it is the method and location of building a home that make it green, and still yet others use a different means to qualify what it means to be a “green home”.
We will cover all of those different ideas as best we can in this article and let you choose what it means to have a green home to you. The reason a prebuilt home is sometimes considered the greenest option is because it does not take any new resources to house its family. The longer the home stays in good repair and use, the lower its overall environmental impact becomes. These homes can have small modifications made to make them more energy efficient saving the owners money over the long run and reducing future environmental impact of the home.
Building a new home that is considered green often involves incorporating several important methods or features to make the home not only consume less energy but also fewer resources in its creation and perhaps for some, most importantly, less toxic resources which reduces health risks. Some of these important features are as follows:
- Built using passive solar placement and construction techniques.
- Built using renewable resources.
- Designed to maximize living area and minimize footprint.
- Placed to reduce environmental disturbance.
- Constructed with energy efficient appliances and fixtures.
- Incorporates ways to offset carbon footprint of home or occupants.
Now, we will go over each of those in order with a bit more detail so you can see the benefits of each and what they mean. Passive solar utilizes the path of the sun to maximize solar gains and minimize energy costs. It does this by using the sun through the day to provide light without the need for electricity as well as to provide heating, sometimes even stored in walls or other thermal masses so that it releases passively when temperatures drop keeping the home warm without need for supplemental heat.
Renewable resources differ based on where you are building. Bamboo, cob, cotton, cork, and hemp are all good examples that are widely used in green construction. These materials must take several aspects into consideration such as: renewability, stability, toxicity, and energy efficiency. No material is completely perfect so each choice has to be balanced on what you need the material for.
A design that maximizes living space will make use of spaces often overlooked such as beneath stairways and will try to keep an open floor plan. By maximizing your living space you can build a small home overall than you normally would. taking up a smaller footprint.
Placing your home to reduce environmental disturbance means that you would choose a location for your home that does not require cutting down as many trees or clearing large areas of indigenous plants. Instead, it may be placed closer to the native plants but providing less lawn, established trees should be built around so that they remain living.
Appliances and fixtures such as windows are continually being improved for energy consumption. Adding extra panes of glass, improving seals, lowering electricity consumed are all features to look for. Energy Star rated items can be easily researched on their website to see how different models and manufacturers stack up. There are other agencies monitoring the efficiency of appliances and fixtures as well, all it takes is a bit of research to find the ones that will best suit your needs.
One way of reducing your carbon footprint can be seen in our model picture. Vertical gardening, or green walls can reduce heating and cooling bills. A green roof can also lower your heating and cooling bill though will have higher maintenance needs than a traditional roof. incorporating solar panels or wind turbines to offset energy use, or grey-water systems to recycle waste water from showers and washing clothes, which prevents it from going to the sewer with black water from the toilet that requires specific treatment to make it safe. Solar water heating can provide hot water without the need for electricity or even heat for your home through water heated by the sun. A green home could incorporate all of these and more or only the ones that work for its inhabitants.
As you can see this is only a glimpse of the possibilities a green home can offer you and the environment. There are a lot of reasons to build green, even for those who do not wish to take environmental factors into consideration, a green home can save money in the long run even with its higher initial investment cost. Any effort made towards a greener home, whether existing or new, is time and money well spent. Green homes often have higher resale value as well. Another important consideration to keep in mind.