Green building is a growing trend, and one that will have a significant impact on the environment. Focusing on issues such as sustainability,...
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Green building is a growing trend, and one that will have a significant impact on the environment. Focusing on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, and conservation, green building is good for everyone.
Source: New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)
Green home building is a hot trend, with more than 30% of all home builders incorporating environmentally friendly practices and materials into their projects, according to the National Association of Home Builders. It is a trend that is expected to continue to grow as demand and availability of eco-friendly materials increases. If you are considering building a green home, here are some things to keep in mind:
The first step of green building and design involves taking stock of the lot you've chosen to build your home on. The point of this step is to determine how your home can make best use of its surroundings. For example, you'll want to figure out which direction prevailing winds come from, because that will impact several of the decisions you make in terms of conserving heat, such as how much insulation you'll need, which windows will work best, and even which rooms would do better on that side of the house. Likewise, the south and west sides of the home will get more sun exposure, so it makes sense to plan to locate your most often used rooms on that side of the house so that the sun can help heat those rooms.
If your parcel of land has hills in it, or shade trees, those will be taken into account as well. In general, a green builder will focus on working with these landscape features in building your new home.
Bigger is not always better, and that is definitely the case in green building. In designing an environmentally friendly home, the builder and homeowner take into account how many people will be living in the home and what activities will take place in the home. They'll determine how much space is needed based on this information. This is an important step because big houses often contain plenty of big, empty, unused rooms-rooms that still get heated and cooled, decorated and cleaned. This kind of wastefulness is one of the main things that green building opposes.
A large part of building an environmentally friendly home is in choosing materials that are natural, sustainable, and have a low impact on the Earth in their production. For example, insulation is an important part of any home, and is especially important in a green home, where there is a lot of focus on conservation. However, traditional fiberglass insulation is composed of several mined materials, along with some recycled glass. A greener option is either recycled cotton or cellulose insulation, which is made of at least 80 percent recycled newspaper. Green flooring options abound. Consider using bamboo, cork, natural linoleum, organic cotton and wool carpeting, or reclaimed lumber. When sealing your floor, think natural waxes rather than polyurethanes, which off-gas, releasing chemicals into the air and reducing indoor air quality. All of the paints and finishes used in the home should be low or no VOC formulations. Natural materials in general, such as wood, stone, grasses, and natural fibers are a trademark of green home building.
Building an eco-friendly home focuses on energy use. Installing solar, wind, or geothermal devices to power your home, as well as choosing appliances that use that power in an efficient way, are central to the process. You can expect to pay a lot of attention to your home's heating and cooling, because those two activities have the largest impact on the environment as far as our home's carbon footprint is concerned.
Many of your plumbing choices will revolve around saving water. Typical green building practices for water conservation include installing low capacity toilets, flow regulators on shower heads, and aerators on faucets. In addition, you'll examine your outdoor water usage. If you plan on having landscaping, you'll need to consider how you will water it. Installing rain barrels to catch runoff for irrigation, as well as installing systems to collect your gray water are both common practices.
There are many considerations that go into building an environmentally friendly home. In the end, it is about making a home that is not only good for the Earth, but that makes its inhabitants feel happy and healthy as well.
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