Green Home Building – Lean & Green But What Does it All Mean?

 Talk is cheap. Builders and manufacturers claim to be green but are they? And, do you know how to determine if they are? Understanding what goes into making a building product “green” is the first step to ensuring that you get what you’re asking for.

Question: What does Green Building mean?


I could be funny and say that nobody really knows. Actually, that would be pretty close to accurate! You see, there are various descriptions of green building and a lot of controversy surrounding it.

Sustainability is an Overriding Factor

The word “sustainable” is kicked around a lot when we talk about green building. This word is helpful in understanding green. So, let’s talk about sustainability first. When the term is used in regards to building, it means that we’re looking at ways to build and develop that don’t harm the environment and that utilize resources that can be easily replenished.

When resources can be easily replenished it doesn’t diminish our ability to continue in the same fashion for years and years to come.

Other Green Building Goals

In addition to this, when you want to build green, you should get some additional information from your builders and home designers.

  • What energy efficient products (such as appliances & heating and air conditioning systems) do they use?
  • What energy saving building methods (such as wall systems and insulation) do they employ?
  • Are they specifying and using non-toxic, health-supporting products?
  • Do the product manufacturers use non-polluting processes to create them?
  • How is waste dealt with during product production and home construction?


Green building is really about the products, their design, and their efficiencies. It’s not as much about the labor or the act of building a home. Yet, that being said, it is important to find laborers that are experienced with the various “green products” and know how and where to utilize them.

Now you know what to demand in your home building project.

Green Home Building Trends For 2010

Although the building industry had a dark year in 2009, Green building seemed to somehow stick out and shine. According to the Multiple Listing Service date, certified sustainable green new homes actually rose the past year in the northern west coast areas like Portland and Seattle. This trend is believed to spread over the U.S. and green building is expected to grow within new home sales. Already new home sales are on a rise from a year ago with March of 2010 seeing the biggest jump in new home sales in 47 years. So what trends can we expect to see in 2010 in green new homes?

1. Energy Monitoring Home Dashboards. The increasing demand for energy efficient homes, the development of a custom web-based display panel within the home, will show real-time home energy use. This sophisticated produced can break down the real time energy use of homeowners appliances, which will help a homeowner change the way they use their electricity. For example the way an electric car miles per gallon indicator encourages the owner to adapt their driving habits, new homes that offer these Dashboards may encourage homeowners to reach lower energy use. Dashboards will also increase the probability that homeowners of green homes will reach the Energy Performance Score.

2. Energy Efficient Green Home Labeling. Like the miles per gallon label you would find when searching for a new car, energy rating systems for new homes has become popular among legislators. This energy rating system will make it easier for home buyers to see the energy efficiency of one green home compared to another. Each homes score will be available on the MLS.

3. Lenders and Green Homes Make for a Better Bottom Line. Lenders have come to the conclusion that green new homes are better for their bottom line. By seeing a trend of green home owners being more responsible and less probable to default on a loan, due to the fact that most green home owners are more accountable and likely to place higher value on home maintenance. Home owners are also less likely to default due to the decrease in energy coast within their green home. Lenders are now working to get reduced-rate loans and insurance packages for green new home owners.

4. Less Is More. Back when the housing market was booming, a larger homes lead to greater equity. However since that “bubble burst” this is no longer the case. With energy prices expected to rise over time, and the Federal Reserve likely to raise interest rates during 2010, home buyers are likely to feel more at ease with smaller new homes.

5. Water Conservation. Did you know that residential water usage accumulates for more than half of the public water supplied? The EPA decided in December 2009 to implement WaterSense. WaterSense specifies that new homes will need to reduce water use by 20 percent than conventional new home. Mandatory energy labeling in Europe already documents the water efficiency.

6. Net Zero Homes. A net zero home is a green home that generates more energy than it uses over a year. This is done by building a fairly small new home that is extremely energy efficient and uses on site renewable energy like wind, solar or geo-exchange systems.

10 Reasons to Consider Building Green With Straw

Building Green with Straw is often talked about when people are looking for ways to make their homes more sustainable. Building green is one way to create a comfortable, energy efficient and very beautiful home. So here are 10 good reasons to consider building green with straw if you are thinking about building or renovating a home.

  1. Building Green With Straw Is Not So Scary: Many people find the idea of building a home quite daunting and feel that they do not possess the skills required. However, if you can lift a bale of straw and stack it on top of another bale of straw then you already have the basic skill you need to build the walls of your new home.
  2. Practice Makes Perfect: The great thing about straw as a building material is that it is perfect for the owner builder. If you think you really would like to use it then you can build yourself a small shed or perhaps a chicken coop to get the feel for this great material. It’s very forgiving and the results are stunning.
  3. Super Energy Efficiency Potential: This is an example of why building green with straw is a super idea. The insulation value of strawbale walls is very high and combined with good ceiling and floor insulation, double or triple glazing and basic passive solar design principles you can create a very energy efficient home.
  4. Building Green with Straw uses Natural Materials: You don’t get much more natural than straw from a field. So too can you use natural rendering materials to weatherproof your walls – local mud, lime render and plasters and even earthen floors are all common ingredients in an environmentally friendly home such as those built from mud brick or strawbale.
  5. Let’s face it, they are gorgeous: Have you seen a strawbale home? Have you been inside one? They ‘feel’ wonderful and this is because they breathe, they have sound qualities you just don’t get in many regular houses and although it’s difficult to explain in words as soon as you step inside one, you will know that this is a great building style.
  6. Building Green with Straw allows you to reuse/recycle waste material: This is an amazing fact. Many people still set fire to the stubble in their fields after the crop has been harvested. I built my house from this waste product, mine was wheat straw but you can use rice straw, oat straw and other grain crop ‘waste’ material to build a beautiful home. An excellent example of reuse or recycle and a win for everyone.
  7. Renewable Resource: In this age of growing awareness of limits to the resources we have available, straw is an excellent example of a renewable resource. No need to wait for it either, like tree crops. This is an annual plant, eat the crop at the end of the season and build a new house in the spring. I’m sure no-one actually does that but that is the potential of building green with straw.
  8. Flexible and Forgiving materials and great for novice and expert alike: One of the joys of building green with straw is the flexibility of the material. Featured in many homes are the gentle curves of walls and the deep set windows and doorways. Even a novice can create wonderful and creative features in their home with straw that may have been impossible for them with more conventional materials.
  9. Building Green with Straw is Empowering: This is something not often recognised when someone is considering building their own home. When you decide that you are going to begin building green with straw it can become a very empowering process. You will develop great skills, learn a new language (of building), you will meet lots of new people who share your dream and your passions and you may suddenly find that you can do far more things than you ever thought possible.
  10. Become a Leader: This is a great side effect of actually building green with straw – you become someone who leads by example. You become a person who can show others what may be possible in terms of using alternative materials, using waste products, creating a home that is healthy, more sustainable and above all very beautiful and unique.

There are many more reasons to consider building green with straw and they will vary from person to person. However, ideas such as reducing waste, living more sustainably, having healthier homes and participating in activities that empower individuals, build communities and create inspiration for others are fantastic reasons to consider building green with straw.