Green Home Building – Defining the Green Home

Green Home Building – Developing a Definition

Green home building is a growing trend all over the world but there are differing opinions about what actually constitutes a green home and this can lead to confusion and frustration for home builders and increasingly, home buyers as they make decisions about their new home purchase.

There is Green and then there is GREEN

It seems that homes being promoted as green and even eco-friendly can range from the simplest dwellings you can create to the most high-tech monsters you can imagine. It appears that the range moves from low-tech, passive design and construction to high-tech, active homes and almost everything in between. No wonder we have trouble defining just what a green home really is.

Sustainability Issues in home building

Your home is quickly becoming the place where you can express your desire to live in a more sustainable manner. Whether your green impulse comes from wishing to save money by making your home more energy efficient or comes from a concern for the wider environmental impacts of your lifestyle, home sustainability is certainly a major component in this evolving process of defining what constitutes a green home.

The individuality factor in Green Home Building

There is a common thread running through most alternative home building projects and that is the individuality factor. In these days of mass produced homes (be they project built or bought off the plan type projects, there are many people who are looking for alternatives and who opt to build environmentally friendly or more sustainable homes as a way of expressing the things that are important to them.

Think Global – Act Local

Applying this mode of thinking to your home will mean that you source local materials, use local craftspeople, harvest local resources such as water (for storage for later use in your home) and sunshine (solar energy) and wind (wind power) and the amazing power of plants to feed yourself. Thinking global in terms of the impact of your home and then taking local action to reduce that impact is a way of acting locally with a global focus.

Aesthetic Considerations

For many people, using alternative materials in the construction of their green home building project is a major consideration. Building green with straw is just one option, using non-toxic or low toxicity products is another. A green more sustainable home is often designed to create a healthy internal and external environment for the people who are going to live in it.

The importance of Passive design in a Green Home

Design is a vital component in creating a green, more sustainable home. Passive design allows the home to provide stable temperatures, healthy airflow, and a sense of place that creates a particularly enjoyable space for people to dwell. Good passive design significantly reduces the need for energy inputs to heat and cool the home, making is a much more sustainable option in the medium term.

The alternative – an Active Green Home

Many homes have a green label because they have many active components built into them. Climate control devices that can sense the need to lower blinds and shades, that monitor energy use, activity within the home, zoning of climate control and most commonly, solar arrays and their accompanying monitoring and reporting hardware. With all that technology included in the design and construction of a home it must certainly add to the resource use and bring into question just how much active design is enough.

Life-cycle of a Green Home

In these days of faster and faster replacement of things such as clothing, appliances, technology and cars it may come as no surprise that homes are being replaced (knock-down-rebuild) every more quickly. Often a defining feature of a green home design and construction is that is it built to last, not deliberately designed to become ‘unfashionable’ because it may not have been fashionable, in the modern context of the word, in the first place. In fact, as with most things, the longer your home lasts the greener it is.

Where is your Green Home and does it matter?

Interestingly many homes designed around commonly accepted green principles have traditionally been built out of town on a small holding or small acreage. However, if living in such circumstance necessitates you driving long distances to work each day or to access other services using a private motor vehicle, this can potentially undo much of the benefit of living in a green home. This doesn’t necessarily have to be the case though and many of these home owners develop ways to ensure their impact outside the home is kept within acceptable levels.

A Green Home fits where it sits

This is a way of saying that good design is central to a good green home building project. The home should fit the space it occupies, it should respond to the realities of its location, its aspect and the functions it needs to perform. The materials selected should also be in relation to the place and space and ideally should be sourced from the area around the home.

The process of defining the green home is complex, and ever changing but some things are a given and it seems that for 21st Century home construction is a combination of simplicity in design and construction, quality passive design principles, careful selection of materials and a sensible range of active green technologies can create a green home – energy efficient, eco-friendly, comfortable and created with natural materials that don’t cost the earth.