One decision you will be faced with when designing your new home is whether or not to use green building principles and green building elements to enhance and enrich your home. The cost of building a green home is higher than a traditional home, but the reward and long-term savings will definitely be worth the original investment.
You may be thinking “What does green building involve?” Green building is the practice of increasing the efficiency of buildings’ use of material, water, and energy. It also includes reducing building impact on the environment through better design, construction, maintenance, and waste removal.
You can effectively build a green home by increasing your energy efficiency, selecting the best materials for building, increase the efficiency of water usage inside and outside of the home, and improving the air quality which will also improve the health of your family. Let’s break this down into steps to easily determine the best way for you to plan your home’s Green building principles:
Increase Energy Efficiency
- Advanced framing- if you plan to build your home using these principles, an easy starting place is with the frame of your home. Creating a structurally sound home with improved efficiency will lower your material and labor costs. This step actually reduces the cost of your home because it reduces the amount of lumber (more expensive) used and replaces it with insulation (cheaper option).
- Hot Water Heater- strategically placing your hot water heater can help reduce the amount of energy consumed by your home. Place the heater near the points of your home that use the most water like the main shower and the washing machine.
- Household Appliances- when you head to your local home appliance store to choose your new refrigerator, washing machine, dryer, and oven, be sure to look for the Energy Star The machine will also include an Energy Guide that suggests an estimated yearly cost for operation. This information can help you select the best appliance that fits your needs and eliminates wasted energy costs.
- Lighting- when selecting lights for your home, we recommend that you select high-efficiency lighting systems with advanced lighting controls. This will allow you to adjust the lighting in your home to meet your needs instead of having full-powered lights all the time.
Select “Smart Materials” for Building Your Home
- Plastic Lumber- by selecting plastic lumber for non-structural applications like fences, decks, and retaining walls, you ultimately reduce your ongoing maintenance costs, and you will not harm your local habitat. This material is weather and insect resistant so it will not crack, chip, or splinter. You will not have to paint it or worry about it leaching chemicals into surface water or the ground.
- Fiber Cement Siding- this is a material made from cement and wood fiber reclaimed from waste of fast growing trees. This particular type of siding is very durable which makes it a low maintenance option. In addition to these positives, fiber cement siding often offer a 50 year warranty which not only ensures the success of the product, but also increases the value of your home.
- Brick- thanks to the challenge of extracting clay for brick, there is rarely any wasted material. The lifespan of brick is limitless and it can be recycled after demolition in the future.
Increasing the Efficiency of Water Usage
- Rainwater Collection- rainwater collected from your roof is a free source of landscape water. All you would need is a suitable guttering system, a storage tank, and a filtration unit.
- Plumbing- It is possible to design your home to use recycled water for toilet flushing. Also, use a low-flush toilet and a low-flow shower head to help alleviate unused water.
- In the Yard- select plants that have low water and pesticide needs. Planting trees offers beauty to your yard and will increase the value of your home while decreasing your impact on the environment. A single mature tree can provide $300 worth of energy and resources.
- Chemicals- avoid using outdoor chemicals and always fix any leaks to prevent contamination of the water runoff.
Improving Air Quality to Improve Health and Productivity
- Carpet – Using a low pile or less allergen attracting carpet and pad greatly improves air quality. At installation, have the carpet tacked down, not glued, to reduce pollutants. Many Green Built designs minimize the use of carpeted surfaces, replacing them with hard floors which don’t have these pollutants and are easier to keep free of dust, mold and mildew.
- Paints – Use low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds, such as formaldehyde) paints.
- Ventilation – While you want to seal your home to prevent heat loss, this creates a need for mechanical ventilation. Ventilation can be provided by quiet fans with automatic controls or by heat recovery ventilators. Talk to your HVAC contractor for the best system for your home’s green design.
- Construction materials – To prevent microbial contamination, select materials that are resistant to microbial growth.
- Window treatments – Avoid synthetic window coverings or those that cannot be cleaned easily.
Green building is absolutely a multi-faceted undertaking. There are many things to be aware of and people in the industry are constantly finding new ways to improve the process in the long run. It is nice to be aware of the advantages and the work that goes into building a green home even if it sounds terrifying. Lucky for you, you have UBuildIt to help with the ins-and-outs. Contact your local office today for more information.