Green Home Design & Sustainable Architecture

Setting Priorities for your Sustainable Home Design is the Key to having a Green Home

If sustainability is one of the goals for your building project, then a sober assessment of priorities will help to guide your selection of green building technologies.  Whether your project is a new construction, remodel or renovation, the sustainable identity of your home will only be genuine when its components and elements furnish positive returns on investment.  Unfortunately, the most visible and showy applications may offer the least value for supporting sustainability.  Solar collectors and panels can be exciting and enticing.  Unfortunately for our egos, it is most often the very common (even dull) conservation measures that furnish the biggest bang for the buck.



Conservation

A bit of clever design can create much opportunity for energy savings through conservation methods such as thick insulation, secure air barriers and construction detail, which need to be carefully considered and executed.  Tight high quality windows and doors can be a major energy-saving investment.  Similarly, caulking and weather-stripping are the most boring, but also the most effective means of saving energy.  In your conservation efforts, don’t forget lighting.  CFL and LED lamps can reduce electrical usage.  These and other basic conservation techniques should be the first considerations.

 

Passive Solar

The next most effective resource-conserving approach is passive solar architecture.  If your home is located at a site with southern exposure and in a cold climate, then a passive solar orientation can provide significant financial savings with little added expense.  Such application can be as simple as arranging more glass on the south side of the house than on the other sides.  If the sunshine entering these windows lands on masonry surfaces, then energy can be stored by day and slowly released during evening hours.  Modest overhangs will shade the heat gain during the summer and allow the sunshine to enter during the winter, due to the seasonal changes of the sun’s motion.  The simplicity of such design is appealing.  Passive solar architecture can be accomplished without doing any major remodeling, and is therefore affordable and reliable.

Passive Solar Home Design



Active Solar

Finally, for those who have taken advantage of all of the above opportunities and still wish to venture further into sustainable home design, then active solar collection systems may be appropriate.  These will include photovoltaic power generation and domestic water heating systems.  In locations where water is scarce, rainwater harvesting and grey-water recycling may be employed. All of these installations require a substantial financial investment upfront, and returns must be carefully examined to determine if they are economically justified in each particular application.  Tax credits and deductions may be available for these systems (as with conservation and passive solar expenses) and these incentives will vary from region to region. A full financial analysis can be complicated, and solar panel installers can often lend helpful support.

PV Solar Power System



 

By establishing priorities, your project will follow sound principles that lead to architecture with integrity. You will be assured that the green building measures employed in your sustainable project truly support your commitment to conserving energy and other resources.

How to Make Your Home More Enegry Efficient and Eco Friendly

With the winter looming just around the corner, your home’s energy efficiency starts to weigh heavily not only in terms of being green from the environmental, personal, and social perspective, but it is becoming increasingly important because of very high heating costs.

In this guide I am going to present some fairly easy to implement ideas on how to increase your home’s energy efficiency on a budget.

Home Insulation Ideas

If your home was built before 1970s, then it is very likely that it does not have sufficient levels of insulation, which results in unnecessary heat loss. Many states now offer some very attractive home insulation programs, grants and rebates. For instance, the state of Massachusetts, my home state, provides a 75% tax credit rebate on energy efficient insulation up to $2000.00 (year 2011).

There are many similar programs in other states, and taking advantage of similar energy efficient insulation rebate programs will put money back in your pocket, and reduce your heating and cooling costs. Additionally, it will also increase the saleability of your home, reduce the chance of your heating pipes bursting in the winter, reduce cold air drafts, and make your home a more comfortable place for you and your family.



Attic Insulation

Going back to older homes built before 1970s, if you happen to live in one, chances are that your loft or attic insulation is not sufficiently insulated and ventilated. This is a common reason for ice dams on the roof in the winter and costly roof, walls, and insulation damages that may not necessarily be covered by homeowners insurance.

You can better insulate your attic by locating air leaks, and applying a caulk sealant to stop the unwanted air leaks. You can feel for these air leaks with your hand, or buy a special tool for detecting thermal leaks in your home at your local home improvement store. Another alternative would be having a professional home energy audit performed in your house, which would give you a complete report outlining locations where energy loss due to insufficient insulation and air leaks occurs.



You can then follow up on recommendations of the home energy audit report, and have a contractor insulate and seal poorly insulated, and poorly sealed areas in your house for you. If you are into DIY and want to save some money, you can tackle these issues yourself with the help of specialty sealants, and attic insulation bats.

Having a sufficiently insulated and properly ventilated attic will help prevent ice dams on your roof. Being prepared for cold storms with a properly insulated home can save a ton of money and headaches from having to deal with busted pipes and ice dams damage in the winter. Trust me on this!

If you plan on having a new roof installed any time soon, then consider replacing the old one with an energy efficient metal roofing system, which will help reduce your cooling costs in the summer, and help stop ice dams in the winter.

Insulating Walls

You can have your walls insulated with a blown in insulation, or you can have more insulation put in, if you are planning to install new siding on your house some time in the near future. Obviously, blown insulation is much easier and less costly than ripping apart your sheet rock to install a cavity wall insulation, but if you are doing a complete remodel of certain rooms in your home, and you are taking off old sheet rock, then you can have your wall cavities insulated during this time. Although, in all honesty ripping off your old sheet rock, or plaster and installing a new one is a messy and expensive way to do it.


Simple Way to Insulate Windows for the Winter

If you do not quite have the money to replace your old windows with energy efficient ones, then you can install a special film over them.This will reduce the cold air drafts, keep your rooms warmer and save money on reduced heating bills.

If you have already implemented all of the above measures, and are ready for the next step, consider replacing your old oil burner with an energy efficient gas heating system. Once again, there may be some good rebates available when you choose to upgrade your heating system with a 92 to 96% energy efficient gas burner. The cost of gas is less than the cost of oil, and having an energy efficient burner will further reduce your heating costs in the winter. You can also install energy efficient gas-powered hot water burners to reduce the cost of heating water in your home.

Other energy efficient modifications to consider include: LED lighting, low flow faucets, shower heads and dual flush toilets that will conserve water year round.



Metal Roofing Prices

As environmental awareness continues to grow in America, many homeowners are starting to embrace green building technologies to make their homes greener and more energy efficient. In light of this trend, metal roofing, which is one of the most energy efficient and green roofing materials, is continuing to gain popularity and market share.

Metal roofing is a high-end material that provides a beautiful and reliable alternative to conventional asphalt shingles. When homeowners consider getting a new roof for their home, the first thing they focus on is metal roofing prices vs. conventional roof cost.

According to the Remodeling Magazine, the national average price for a new standing-seam metal roof installed on a 30 squares home is around $42,000, while the same roof outfited with asphalt shingles costs $22,500. The roofing job includes complete tear-off and removal of the old roof.

Metal Roof



 

Based on these numbers, metal roofing costs are nearly double the cost you would normally pay for the installation of an asphalt shingle roof. Clearly, metal roofs are more expensive than their energy inefficient and environmentally unfriendly, petroleum based counterparts. Despite such a drastic difference in cost, metal roofing has been steadily gaining popularity and is now one of the fastest growing roofing products in America. So, what is it that makes metal roofing such an attractive option for homeowners?

The answer is in the reliability and longevity that metal roofs offer. Modern metal roofs are expected to last for many decades. While an asphalt shingle roof averages less than 20 years of service life, a professionally installed metal roof can last well over 50 years.

Metal roofing has an impeccable track record for longevity and reliability that dates back to the early 19th century, when zinc roofs became very popular in Europe. Zinc roofs perform extremely well, lasting in many cases over 100 years. In fact, many zinc metal roofs installed in Paris in the beginning of the last century are still protecting the rooftops of the city today.



 

Metal roofing offers many different styles and material options to the building owners, such as zinc and aluminum coated steel roofing as well as high – end zinc and copper roofing. Style-wise, metal roofs can be made available in the traditional profiles, such as factory stamped metal shingles, metal shakes, and tiles. Modern profiles, such as standing-seam, corrugated steel panels, and custom built profiles are also available.

Metal roofs are fully recyclable when it is time to replace them. Many metal roofing systems available on the market today contain over 30 percent of post consumer recycled metal content. Metal roofs are available in a great variety of colors, with many options approved and rated by the Energy Star and Cool Roof Rating Council. Cool metal roofing can provide energy savings of up to 35% in the summer.

A metal roof can make your home beautiful and more energy efficient, save money on air conditioning costs, and qualify for green building tax credits from the government. When shopping for a new metal roof, make sure that you only hire experienced roofing contractors who have strong references, portfolios of their work and can offer sound advice about the products they install.



 

Metal Roofing and Rain Water Harvesting

Metal roofing for rainwater harvesting is considered one of the best options for maximum efficiency and potability of the harvested rainwater. In any building, a roof is the major catchment area of rainwater, making the quality of the roofing material highly important. According to scientific research, a metal roof has an estimated efficiency quotient of 0.9 on a scale of zero to one. This is ideal for maximum catchment of rainwater.

It is obvious that rainwater catchment would be higher with smoother surfaces. All types of metal roofing materials, such as galvanized iron, corrugated steel, aluminum, various alloys, etc. provide not only smooth surfaces, but they are also bacteria-resistant. Hence, the harvested rainwater is highly potable. Metal roofing easily meets major criteria required for roofing materials used in catchment of rainwater. These criteria and the effectiveness of metal roofing are listed below.

Metal roof installation:




 

Durability

The roofing system should withstand the weight of the water even during heavy rains. It should not be affected by the accumulation of water on its surface and last for a longer period. Metal roofing is able to meet these conditions perfectly.

Functional Design

The roof should be easy to fix and maintain. It should not leak during periods of heavy rain and remain strong. The roof should allow accumulated water to flow to the rain water harvesting tank smoothly and easily. The metal roofing is better in this aspect, compared to many other types of materials.

Purity of Water

Since metal roofing is resistant to bacteria, the water collected from rain is generally potable straightaway. Still, bugs, dust, dirt, and debris that accumulate on a metal roof are likely to contaminate the water to a certain extent. Hence, the rainwater harvesting system should have adequate filters and other water purifying techniques to remove these materials from the rain water. It is advisable to clean a metal roof before rains are expected to minimize these problems.




 

Aesthetics

Metal roofing can be made from various materials, such as galvanized iron, corrugated steel, aluminum, and alloys, and can also be manufactured in various designs, patterns, styles and colors. Consequently, the variations in aesthetics that could be achieved with metal roofing materials can never be obtained with concrete roofing, a major alternative to metal.

Cost Considerations

Metal roofing for rainwater harvesting is among the cheapest roofing materials. In particular, compared to solid concrete roofing, metal is the most cost-effective solution. Additionally, concrete roofing needs to be reinforced and strengthened with water-proofing chemicals and treatments. This increases the cost of concrete roofs even further. The sturdiness and durability of metal roofing materials result in the lowest maintenance cost over several years. Hence, metal roofs are highly cost effective.



 

Green Building Materials Guide

As the quality of life in general improves, the attention of consumers is shifting more and more towards the integration of green building materials for the construction of new homes and renovations of existing ones. The focus shifts from the mere cost of building, to more effective usage of so called green building materials that are designed to be environmentally friendly, and geared towards conserving energy.

Opting to build with environmentally friendly and sustainable materials may prove to be more cost effective in the long term than using initially cheaper, but less sustainable building materials that never make effective use of natural resources.

Green building involves using materials that are sustainable by nature and recyclable or easily replenished, if need be. One example of a green building practice in modern construction is using metal for the building envelope. Metal is a sustainable material that is fully recyclable at the end of its service life. It possesses rigidity and durability required to construct buildings that can withstand sun, wind, hail and years of abuse, to prevail in harsh environments.

The Durability and Sustainability of Metal Has a Long History

Although, the concept of green building was not prevalent in the 1930s, metal, such as steel, was in wide use for the construction of great buildings, such as the Chrysler Building. Completed in 1930, this awesome building uses a metal frame, and incorporates stainless steel cladding to attain longevity, sustainability and energy efficiency. It is not in the least surprising that this building is still here, standing the test of time.

metal-building



 

Metal coated with solar reflective coatings can reduce energy consumption by drastically lowering the amount of energy required to cool the building, as metal reflects solar heat requiring less energy to cool the building. This also helps mitigate the heat island effect associated with buildings attracting the solar heat, and then releasing the heat into the surrounding environment.

Thus, metal helps in the construction of an energy efficient building that is constructed to last, while being safe for the environment, as well as its occupants.

The Environmental protection Agency (EPA) has been assigning energy star ratings to the buildings for many years. The energy star ratings for buildings’ energy efficiency sanctioned by EPA have helped prevent the release of nearly 120 million metric tons of C02 into the atmosphere.

Energy Star buildings typically use 35% less energy and emit 35% less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than average buildings.

The Chrysler building uses 40% less energy, and generates 35% less Co2 than the average building. It underwent some systematic upgrades to replace old systems with green building compliant elevators, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, plumbing, fire, electrical, and energy efficient lighting upgrades.

Bamboo – Natural Green building material

While metal is a sustainable, energy efficient and fully recyclable building material, there are other natural green building materials such as bamboo that grow fast and can be easily replenished. For instance bamboo flooring is considered a green building material.

Green Building means Health and Comfort for the building occupants.

Using green building materials offers many advantages over the traditional materials used for building and renovating, as green building materials are environmentally friendly, which leads to better health, while the construction of so called green buildings can be more attractive for perspective buyers. Green buildings are designed to last, providing safe, healthy, and pleasant environment for the building occupants. They emphasize the efficient use of natural resources such as water, and energy. Examples of energy efficient use of resources include: water sinks with auto shut off, automatic doors, automatic lighting, and use of energy efficient and environmentally safe components such as LED lighting.

Another example showcasing the use of metal in modern green building is Cornell University’s new building outfitted with zinc and tin coated steel wall panels designed to provide superior protection against the elements and help make the building more energy efficient. The metal cladding is expected to last well over a 100 years offering durability, and energy efficiency.

Cornell-University-green-building



 


Green Building design

Commercial buildings are not the only ones benefiting from green building design. In fact, residential homes, even the ones that are already in place can be outfitted with energy efficient upgrades, such as energy efficient metal roofs, metal wall panels, solar panels, geothermal energy, energy efficient windows, siding, LED lighting, and energy efficient appliances.

Green building is actively promoted by the US Green Building Council, a nonprofit organization, which was founded in 1993, with the mission to promote the construction of green buildings, by endorsing sustainable building. The US Green Building Counsel is best known for its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system (LEED), which is used to certify so called green buildings.

The use of green building materials, and construction of green buildings, represents an important step forward to creating a sustainable environment, for generations to come. Sustainable buildings, use none-polluting building materials that are Eco-friendly, and are designed for energy conservation, which in turn leads to less waste and less energy consumption. This is not only cost effective, but also provides a positive boost to lowering the amount of emissions produced, while burning fossil fuels in order to produce energy.

Green building products are becoming more and more common in modern day construction, and are used for for new construction and renovation of the existing homes. With the increase in the usage of green building materials, the cost is rapidly decreasing, making green building products a realistic option even with the immediate budget in mind.

Overall, green building materials and sustainable buildings save money and energy in the long run. Green building practices help preserve the environment. They also create a type of living environment that is healthy, stable and sustainable for future generations. Investing in green building materials is therefore an option that is certainly worth considering for anyone who is in the process of building or renovating their home.


 

Eco Resources:

Green Building Council

www.AllGreenProducts.org