Building a Green Home with Sustainable Materials

Indoor Air Quality and Energy Efficiency is Environment-Friendly

There are three situations where a homeowner can move in the lower carbon footprint direction. The first is when a new home is in the design phase and the second is when a remodeling project is in the works.

The third situation is when a more economical “eco-creep” strategy is being implemented. Eco-creep is when the homeowner makes smaller incremental changes, such as changing incandescent bulbs out to CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs).

The Benefits of Sustainable Building

It’s all good when environment-friendly construction policy is followed. Here are a few key benefits:

  • Costs are lowered when space configurations are changed during the life of the building.
  • Energy conservation from day one. Less energy consumed is not only earth-friendly, it’s kinder to the the pocketbook by lowering electricity and natural gas bills.
  • The health of the home’s occupants is improved. The use of low or no VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paint and green flooring makes a big impact. The average carpeting will trap things that trigger allergies.
  • Flexibility in design is enhanced.
  • Home maintenance costs may be lowered in the long run. For example, installing reclaimed hardwood floors rather than installing carpet eliminates frequent floor covering shampooing.

Green Building Products

Criteria for Residential Green Building Products

There are four basic categories of consideration when choosing sustainable construction materials. These are indoor air quality, energy efficiency, resource efficiency, and water conservation. Is it possible to satisfy every point 100%? Probably not. The important thing is to make the best compromise possible when the need arises.

Indoor Air Quality

  • Air handling equipment should be efficient at filtering indoor air pollutants in an energy-efficient manner.
  • Material should be moisture resistant. Moisture is mold and mildew’s best friend.
  • Non-toxic components are a big issue. There is a reason for government regulation. And why provide work for future litigators?
  • Choose low or no-VOC paint, flooring, and other applicable materials.

Energy Efficiency

  • Appliances and building practices that are energy efficient is a core concept.
  • Energy Star refrigerators, central air conditioners, and other appliances will minimize the home’s carbon footprint right from the start.
  • The proper type and recommended amount of insulation should be installed for the home’s geographical location. Give soy spray foam insulation a try. It’s a bit more expensive than conventional, but it makes an incredibly tight envelope, and is as sustainable as it gets.

Resource Efficiency

  • Use salvaged and re-purposed building material when possible. Previously used hardwood flooring, doors, and staircase material have style. It may save money because the price of newly-harvested hardwood is so high, and re-purposing will keep the landfill a bit less crowded.
  • Use locally available material. Transportation is expensive, wastes fuel, and creates greenhouse gases.
  • Use durable goods. The longer-lasting it is, the longer the time period before replacement.
  • Use renewable and plentiful material. Soy spray foam insulation is a good example. It’s easy and inexpensive to farm.

Water Conservation

There are two key points to consider here. The first is implementing systems that conserve water to begin with. Low-flow shower heads are a good example. Low-flow toilets are a good idea and mandated in the USA. The current standard in the USA is 1.6 gallons per flush (GPF).

The second point is to conserve water by using existing water wisely. Reclaim rain water by routing the flow from the rain gutter downspout to the landscaping.

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