Green homes are designed using procedures that are resource-efficient and environmentally responsible. All features and components of the house, from the interior to the exterior, are given this eco-friendly touch. Even construction, operation and maintenance are done in a way that does not negatively affect the environment. Green buildings, also referred to as sustainable buildings or green constructions, place emphasis on the cost-effectiveness, durability, comfort and utility of the home.
In the present day, civil engineers and architects work together to construct buildings and eco-friendly homes. With the world becoming more and more environmentally-conscious, building professionals feel that it is their responsibility to construct homes that will not harm the environment. This is why green homes have grown in popularity in the recent past. They use biodegradable and cost-effective materials and have distinct aesthetics that set them apart from other home designs. Listed below are some tips on building “green”:
1. Site Location and Conditions
Choosing a site for the home is one of the first steps of construction. As a responsible and environmentally-aware builder, your home shall not be constructed on sensitive habitats like old growth forests, wetlands, or groundwater recharge zones – this highlights the importance of Environmental Management Plan. Next, assess if the given location inspires you and suits your needs and desires. Ideally, the area must be able to provide enough space for gardens, solar access, water, air and privacy. Since green homes are built to last, you need to find a location that you truly like and where you can relax and spend a lot of time. Moreover, consider building the house near major train, bus and subway lines to encourage the use of public transportation. Leave enough space for landscaping where you can grow non-invasive native fruits and vegetables, some of which may be a source of food for your household.
2. Building Orientation
Once you choose your location, it is important to consider how the home will be positioned. Ensure that it is aligned on the east/west axis, with the windows facing true south or true north. If the area has hot climatic conditions, place larger windows at the northern side, to allow free flow of air and natural light. On the southern side, place smaller windows and use canopies and roof overhangs to provide shade from the direct sunlight. Proper building orientation ensures that the house is comfortable, irrespective of the climate.
3. Sustainable Building Materials
Strictly use environmentally-friendly materials. Examples of these materials include the following: non-toxic paint, LED lighting, clay and slate tiles, recycled metal (usually steel and aluminum), fiber cement, soy-based sealants, recycled plastic, bamboo, laminated wood, low VOC adhesives and recycled rubber and any other recycled material. The recycled aluminum and steel can be used as the main raw material for building the home. These metals can be used for walling, roof trusses, windows, ceilings and others. Many builders prefer mild steel as it is lighter, more robust, stainless, more durable and easy to install.
Green roofing is attractive and cost-efficient. Additionally, it gives extra insulation and helps to lower energy consumption. Green roofing systems can be used on the entire roof or some parts of the roof. For example, if you will not use clay tiles, slate tiles or recycled metals for the whole roof, you can still go green by installing subsurface drainage systems, gutters and perimeter drains to control stormwater runoff. You can also collect the rainwater using rainwater catchments and use the water for watering plants, washing clothes, irrigating landscapes and flushing toilets. If you are planning to use the rainwater for vegetation or drinking, do not use asphalt shingles.
5. Install Solar Panels (Photovoltaic Cells)
Photovoltaic cells can be used as the source of electrical energy for the home. It is not only economical, but it also protects you from short circuits and fires. Place the solar panels on the roof, facing the east to west, so as to make sure that they are getting enough contact with energy from the sun. Before installing your solar panels, check if your roof has been designed with this provision. More importantly, choose roofing materials such as light colored standing seam metal roofs, which have the ability to reflect radiant heat.
6. Insulate Your Home
Insulation is one of the most significant steps you can take to make your home eco-friendly. Poorly protected homes lose a lot of power and energy, meaning that more electricity is used to run the air conditioners and heaters. When insulating your home, choose materials that can absorb and preserve heat like fabricated or natural brick, lime, sand and cement. Also, consider using high-performance windows, particularly those that have low-emissivity (low-E) glazings, as they are very effective in saving energy for cooling and heating. Double-glazed or triple-gazed windows will help to preserve warmth and eliminate any draughts. If you have an old house, you can use the sealants which are readily available in DIY shops to close up any draughty voids and holes.
7. Breathing Easy (Proper Ventilation)
While most of us can identify the smell of paint, there are several indoor pollutants that go undetected and are even more harmful. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air can be 100 times more contaminated than outdoor air. VOCs – volatile organic compounds – from some synthetic fabrics, carpets, adhesives, paints and carpets are well known health hazards and may contribute to a condition known as sick building syndrome. As preventive measure, use HVACs to boost the proper circulation of air and fix large windows that let fresh air in and the bad air out.
Building a green home is a small but significant step towards curbing environmental degradation; in a way that also beneficial to the homeowners. It is also good way of contributing towards the preservation of the environment and assuring a safe and healthy ecosystem for the current and future generations. Thus, in lieu of just designing your home to attract prospective homebuyers, you should start considering the amount of resources and energy that could be saved in the construction process.
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