The Many Benefits of Owning a Green Home

The green building boom is well underway, with around 10% of new homes expected to be green homes by the year 2010. This rise in green building isn’t just due to increased environmental awareness, but also to increased awareness of the advantages of green building, including substantial cost savings. Here are the main reasons that the green building boom is only going to get bigger.

Economic Benefits

A typical sustainable built home will incorporate building methods that may have additional up front costs in comparison to traditional homes, but over the years, the cost savings overall will be substantial. A green home naturally has reduced maintenance costs, reduced energy costs, reduced water costs, reduced heating costs and more. A typical green homeowner uses about 50% less water and 50% less energy than traditional homes. In addition, a green built home will hold its value over the long term, with green homes being appraised for 10-20% higher values than comparable traditionally built homes in the same neighborhood. Lastly, check your local building laws, you’ll often find that special incentives and tax breaks are given to people building green homes.

Health Benefits

Green homes use non-toxic and less toxic materials, carpets, paints and sealants whenever possible. This results in better indoor air, thereby reducing your chances of respiratory illnesses and irritations and may also reduce the risk of cancer and help environmentally sensitive people live and breathe easier. Mold problems are also less common in green homes. In addition, because a green home is healthier to live in, you might receive a break in health insurance costs.

Earth Friendly

There are many environmental benefits to owning a green home. A green home uses less energy, produces less waste and uses earth friendly materials in its construction. From using reclaimed timber to recycling rain water to using less water and energy to producing less construction waste, a green home leaves a much smaller footprint on the environment than a traditionally built home. Green homeowners also have many earth friendly options when it comes to the interior of their home, including options such as carpeting made from recycled rubber tires and recycled bottles and other materials. New choices in sustainable materials abound, including the use of easily renewable wood and plant products such as hemp and bamboo. In addition, a green homeowner can rest easier, knowing that they have helped conserve some trees in a forest far away or eliminated the need to produce carpeting or stain that uses toxic chemicals. Many green homeowners are choosing to use materials from demolished buildings and homes. One homeowner in Boston used pieces of a demolished freeway project to build his home, making support beams of pieces of old highway and a roof from an overpass.

Green home builders are finding more and more ways to make the advantages of owning a green home more enticing. So, why not consider a green home for your next home?

Building Green Homes – What’s Involved?

In setting upon the task of building green homes, there are a few different technologies to utilize. You could employ solar power, whether in an active or passive sense, or you could use wind generated power, power generated by water, and then of course there is also geothermal power. There are many environmentally provided means of renewable energy extraction to power an average home, but one of the main questions that arises in the mind of anyone building green homes is this; which is the most efficient to use? Well, let’s take a look at the answer…

The answer to which of the green technologies available today is the most efficient for building green homes is a bit of a no-brainer, and in fact, it was a bit of a trick question in the first place. The obvious answer is all of them. That is to say, the best built green-powered homes today utilize a few or all of the available ways to extract energy and generate power from the environment to power a home. However, some may prefer some systems over others, depending upon the task performed. For instance, instead of using solar, geothermal energy may be preferred for things like heat and hot water, while for generating electricity, solar power may be the best and most efficient system to use.

Even still, some systems may be used in tandem, as one may help the other where each system’s performable tasks tend to overlap – for instance, passive solar/geothermal for heating and air-conditioning, or wind and solar for electricity generation. Setting up “teams” like this can create a sort of “beneficial redundancy” of sorts. After all, the whole of all of the energy one can grab from the environment in these 3ways is totally free and constantly renewable, so why not get all your bases covered and grab what you can, right? Complete efficiency is what is aimed for when building green homes, and having a few systems at a home’s disposal will ensure a proper constant flow of energy as needed.

But let’s not forget other types of eco-friendly living… conserving the energy we have at hand energy is also something to keep in the habit of doing. Building green homes isn’t enough after all, if we continue to be wasteful with our energy consumption habits. “Latent energy consumption” is one thing, for example, that can account for up to 75% of most average homes’ utility bills. Appliances that use remote controls (TVs, VCRs, DVD players, etc.), digital displays (microwave ovens, coffee makers, etc.), LED indicators (battery and cell phone chargers, etc.) and such all continue to draw electricity while not in use, simply by being plugged into the wall. Have all of these things plugged into power strips so that you can simply flip the switch on these to shut off all power use, and you’ll save yourself a ton of utility expenses.

Take Note – Affordable Green Home Building Is Possible

I’m sure you’ve heard the argument that building an energy efficient, green home costs substantially more than a home constructed using traditional methods. Until fairly recently this was a true statement but builders specializing in green construction are now able to build efficient green homes that are approximately the same cost as standard constructed homes.

Heather’s Home is one such an example. Built by Ferrier Custom Homes – it is a three bedroom, 2000+ square foot, (get this part) affordable green built home near Ft. Worth, Texas. This home is very energy efficient as it rates in the top one percent of Energy Star home built in the United States today. That translates into major savings when it comes to utility bills – how does around $15 per month sound? For Texas, where the summers are very hot, that’s pretty incredible.

Heather’s Home is the first home in the United States to be certified under the new and more strict American Lung Association’s Healthy Home guidelines. Additionally, it was built under the NAHB Green Home Building guidelines and has been accepted into the Building America Program sponsored by the Department of Energy. Even more accolades include being the first Texas home to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification and the third home in the country to receive LEED’s Platinum certification. Heather’s Home was also awarded the top most honor (Gold) in the Energy Value Housing Awards by the United States Department of Energy, the National Renewable Energy Lab, and the National Association of Home Builders.

Following are some of the high performance and green features that went into the construction of the home…

o Passive Solar Design

o Proper Shading of Doors and Windows

o “Thermo-Siphoning” Attic Fan

o Organic Landscaping

o Metal Roof

o Rainwater Harvesting

o Fiber Cement Siding

o Non VOC Interior Finishes

o Green Sustainable Products – Counter tops, Trim, Floor Coverings, Finishes, etc.

o CFL and Flourescent Lighting

o Energy Star Windows, Doors, Lighting, Appliances

o Solar Hot Water System

o High Efficiency Heating and Cooling System

o Structural Insulated Panels (SIPS)

Passive solar design principles are an integral piece of the overall efficiency of Heather’s Home. For Texas, this means minimizing sunlight exposure in the summer months and maximizing it in winter months. A reversed scenario would be typical of a high performance design for homes built in more northern climates.

Water is heated by solar panels on the roof. Heating hot water typically accounts for approximately thirty percent of a home’s utility bills. Solar systems that power an entire house can be expensive, however, solar hot water systems can be installed for as little as $3,000.

Quality control is ensured using a HERS (Home Energy Rating System) test. The testing occurs during and after construction to make sure that the home meets the stringent guidelines of the EPA for energy efficiency. To ensure that the house is airtight, a duct blaster test is also performed as well as the review of a checklist for thermal bypass.

Heather’s Home not only looks great, it’s affordable – proof that a high performance, green, and modern home can be economically pragmatic. Thanks to the innovations of Heather’s Home there is no reason that more builder’s shouldn’t be building green homes for the general population. Shout it from the roof tops – you don’t have to sell the farm to build a green home.