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.

Architecture – Building Green Homes And Buildings

Everything is going green from cars to clothes to what we eat and where we vacation. Green buildings are the next step in the crusade for the environment and are no longer restricted to private homes or eccentric designers.

Going green has several benefits for the building owners and for the environment. The only downside for many is construction cost since eco friendly building materials do tend to be slightly more expensive than traditional materials. Most are fine with the increase in prices since it will pay off in the long run with reductions in the price of utilities.

Going green is becoming very popular with over 50,000 such homes being constructed in just the past decade alone. Whole communities devoted to being ecologically friendly are springing up and even professional buildings are joining the cause. At this rate, many experts believe that a majority of new homes and buildings will soon be all green with older structures being converted in an effort to reduce energy costs and consumption.

There are a large number of materials available on the market today that can be used in the construction of environmentally friendly buildings. From the outside, to the inside, savvy builders are implementing new technology and reused materials in a way that benefits the environment. In fact, many cities and states are looking into implementing guidelines requiring new buildings to be more eco-friendly.

There are many companies offering green building materials for the exterior and interior. Before beginning construction it is important to consider a few key points that will help determine what type of eco friendly materials should be used in construction.

With the variety of construction materials some of the materials will not be suitable in every environment. Builders have to take into consideration what it will take to heat and cool buildings during the winter and summer months when energy consumption for homes and offices are higher. If the materials used make it more difficult to keep the home cool then it will still be damaging to the environment even if the material is eco-friendly in itself.

The importance of recycled materials is worth repeating. There are several building materials on the market that are created using recycled content. Concrete, pipes, carpet, all have recycled counterparts. By buying recycled goods, the consumer is helping complete the cycle that reduces landfill waste and strains on the environment.

Of course, it is wise to purchase eco-friendly materials locally when possible. Most do not take transportation cost into consideration when ordering construction materials. Purchasing local materials will cut down the effects of transportation such as gas usage and harmful emissions.

So, what are some specific benefits of building green? These vary in several fields but all have an overreaching benefit. With the reduction of waste and harmful effects that buildings have on the environment, it will improve the quality of life.

Building a green home or building will aid in improving air and water quality which is becoming a major concern for communities the world over. By using recycled materials, these green buildings will help to conserve natural resources that are being rapidly depleted. The overall operating costs of green buildings have proven to be cheaper in the long run then traditional buildings. As more green buildings sprout up, the demand for them grows creating a very healthy trend that is pretty much guaranteed to continue throughout the years.