Green Home Building Elements & Trends

With all efforts in full force for a greener earth, Green Home Building is certainly at the top of the list.  I know you all have seen and heard about green homes, but many questions come to mind about what makes these homes the “green” homes they are. What exactly is a green home? What are the components? What should you expect from a green home? What are the trends out there in building a green home?



In thinking of a green home, you must think of how it not only needs to be energy efficient, but also Eco-friendly. There are five key components that make up a green home.

  •  Conserve natural resources
  •  Use energy efficiently
  •  Have improved indoor air quality relative to normal building standards
  •  Create less waste to build and live relative to normal building standards
  •  Be part of a livable community

In getting started on a green home, you must keep the three “R”s in mind; reduce, reuse, and recycle. You will want to reduce the amount of items you will be putting into your home.  Also, think of all the used materials that can be used to build the home. Reusing something, will prolong its life and keep it out of a landfill.

With recycling you can reduce the need to grow or extract raw materials. Start developing ideas as to what you would want your home to look like. It is best if you find a contractor you like, and a builder that specifically knows green.  Once you have a blue print, you can get to work.

One major component of a green home is solar paneling. In looking at solar panels make sure to pin point what size and wattage you will need.  Figure out what your energy requirements will be. You can talk to the utility company about estimates for that size of a house. You can continue on your green home adventure, by locating used materials to use in walls and floors.

To paint the walls and parts of your green home you could look into all the water based paints that are on the market.



Just go and research the “green” trends out there

A few green home building trends are; multifamily green homes, energy tracking devices such as the Nest learning thermometer, and using “grid-aware” appliances. You may wonder what “grid-aware” appliances are. These appliances have the ability to monitor and report energy usage and therefore can increase or decrease energy according to the energy need. Just think appliances are a huge percent of energy used in a home. If that was cut in half, that would be a lot of money saved. Also, if you did not already know, unlike our non-green home market, the green home market is booming. It’s booming for the builders, contractors, and most importantly the homeowners!

Last, but, certainly not least, just imagine the good you would be doing for the environment and yourself. Healthier more efficient living leaves a better impact on you as well as our diminishing environment.

Author Credits

This article was provided by DoMyOwnPestControl.com, a company that is interested in the development of green initiatives. In an effort to help out with this initiative, Do My Own Pest Control provides several natural and organic pest products to its customers.



Green Modular Building Benefits and Advantages

Modular building has become a popular option for building residential homes, and commercial buildings for education, healthcare, and office spaces. For many, modular homes offer a quick & flexible, cost effective solution for accommodation needs. Many commercial construction companies and architects are turning to modular construction for design flexibility, high quality of construction, cost-effectiveness, speed and ease of deployment of modular buildings for new construction and integration with existing buildings. Compared with the traditional way of constructing homes and commercial buildings, modular construction offers a lot of benefits in terms of meeting clients; needs in a very timely manner, reduced construction costs, sustainability and practicality.




The basics

A modular building is a ground-breaking technique of building structures that involves dividing a building into several different sections, or modules, and manufacturing them in a factory-run setting at the same time as the site of the building is being developed and prepared. The mechanical aspects of the structure including plumbing, electrical and interior facets are completed before the modules are shipped, assembled and attached to the foundation on job site.

Structures built using modular construction methods surpass building codes, safety and occupancy code specifications including local building requirements. Custom designed modular buildings may contain regular building materials such as vinyl siding, bricks, or metal as required in order to meet client’s aesthetic, functional, and green building LEED requirements.



Benefits and Advantages over traditional construction

The following are some of the immediate advantages of modular buildings:

• Speed. This is the main advantage of a modular construction approach, and one of the most significant modular building benefits and advantages over traditional construction. While the modules are being manufactured in a factory-like environment, the site is simultaneously being developed and prepared. Due to this, these buildings can be ready for occupancy weeks or even months ahead of time. In comparison with conventional structures, the modular buildings can provide savings of 30 to 50 percent just by the simultaneous preparation of the modules, and the construction site.

• Innovative designs. Modular buildings are known for their excellence in design. Depending on the client’s needs, a modular construction can be a single story building or a multi-story structure featuring optimal designs and an emphasis on the aesthetic appeal and sustainability.

• Customized Design. Modular builders can work with clients in designing and laying out the structure early on. There is often a collaboration between the parties involved to ensure that the custom building requirements are planned and executed well to assure customer satisfaction.

• High quality. When it comes to modular constructions, the level of quality can exceed expectations because there are strict quality control procedures that are implemented for a more efficient process. Multiple inspections on the modules are normally performed at each stage of the process. The construction components are evaluated and given approval by certain agents of the state.

• Maintenance cost reductions. Modular homes and commercial buildings are designed and build with energy efficient features such as added insulation for energy savings, energy efficient appliances that all work to reduce the utility expenses of a building, and other green building elements for the health and safety of the occupants.

• Multiple uses. These buildings have numerous uses and are likewise flexible and versatile. They can be used permanently or temporarily and have a lifespan of more than 30 years. In fact, modular structures can be used as temporary and permanent classrooms, health care and military facilities in both urban and traditional areas.




Conclusion

Due to their practical characteristics and quick turnaround time from groundbreaking to occupancy, modular structures offer many advantages for the end user vs. traditionally construction. With ease and speed of building and features like customization and flexibility, these buildings are set to become the next generation way of building homes, commercial buildings, educational facilities, hotels, and hospitals.

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 which furnish the biggest bang for the buck.



Conservation

A bit of clever design can find much opportunity for energy savings through conservation methods such as thick insulation, secure air barriers and construction detail which are carefully considered and executed.  Tight high quality windows and doors can reward investment.  Caulking and weather-stripping can be the most boring, but the most effective means of saving energy.  Don’t forget the 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 winter and allow the sunshine to enter during the winter due to the seasonable changes of the sun’s motion.  The simplicity of such designs is appealing.  Passive solar architecture can be accomplished without moving parts (except for the sun) 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 however will represent significant investment and financial 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.  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 credits rebate on energy efficient insulation up to $2000.00 in year 2011.

There are many similar programs in other states, and taking advantage of similar energy efficient insulation rebate programs will not only put money back in your pocket, and reduce your heating and cooling costs. But it will also increase the saleability of your home, reduce the chance of your heating pipes bursting in the winter, reduce cold air drafts in your home, 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, which 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. If you plan on having a new roof installed any time soon, then consider replacing your old roof 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.

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 this 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 home, 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 home energy audit report, and have a contractor insulate and seal poorly insulated, and poorly sealed areas in your house for you, or you could save a bit of money by taking on these inadequacies in your home insulation levels yourself with the help of specialty sealants, and attic insulation bats for your attic.

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!

Insulating Walls

You can have your walls insulated with a blown in insulation, or you can have more insulation installed 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 then, 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 your 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 your old windows, which will help reduce the cold air drafts thereby helping to keep your rooms warmer and saving on money on reduced heating bills.

These are the simple yet effective basic ways to make your home greener and more energy efficient on a budget. If you have already done these and are ready for the next step, then consider replacing your old oil burner with an energy efficient gas heating system. Once again there may be some good rebates available for that 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.



More Ideas

You can obtain even more energy efficiency in your home by replacing your lights with energy efficient lighting, and by installing, eco-friendly shower heads in your bathroom.

A view on a Green Building World

old style sash windows Old houses and buildings traditionally have huge difficulty retaining energy from within. Most of the houses we live in were built long before scientific research began to develop concepts of green building and energy efficient building materials and processes. Green architects now strive to produce low-energy and even zero-energy houses, the latter being completely self-reliant.

Heat is lost through almost every part of a building, from the walls to windows, floors and roofs. Increasingly, governments and construction firms around the world are investing in energy efficiency and passing legislation on minimum green requirements for new building projects.

Current green building projects include:

• New York City’s iconic Empire State Building has announced that it is undertaking a $20 million energy drive to cut usage in the world famous structure and will soon be meeting its remaining energy demand entirely through wind power.



Energy Ratings • ‘Eco towns’ in the UK are still in the development stage but were conceived to set a new standard in green building with energy efficient houses, shops and transport that would be more than self-sustaining, and would also sell the excess energy back to the national electricity grid. Extensive research also went in to determining the best locations, ensuring every aspect of planning and construction was energy smart.

• An artificial foam, developed with inspiration from the nest of a South American frog, was the winner of the 2010 Earth Awards, an event that brings together investors and cash poor green technology designers. The foam will line the inside of coal-burning power stations and trap harmful carbon dioxide emissions before they can enter the atmosphere and contribute to global warming.

On a smaller scale, making windows more energy efficient is a relatively easy way to conserve heat and money, keep out noise and reduce the carbon footprint of a building. Double glazing uses two sheets of glass with a gap between them, which could contain argon, xenon or krypton gases. Triple glazing is also available, but does not necessarily provide greater efficiency.



The British Fenestration Rating Council (BFRC) is the national system for rating the energy efficiency of windows in the UK, in the same way that white goods (fridges, freezers, washing machines) have an efficiency guide signified by A to E ratings.

Empire State Building

A frame for every home and every opening:

Energy smart windows need not look identical. For every different frame material there are window panes of all energy ratings.

• The frame most commonly used is called uPVC. They are recyclable and last a very long time.

• Frames made of aluminum or steel are just as durable and are also recyclable.

• Houses in tightly-regulated conservation areas can use wooden frames to preserve the original look of old houses. They demand more upkeep but have a lower environmental impact in their initial manufacture.

• In composite frames, both wood and metal or plastic are used, where the wood is protected by the former more resilient materials, ensuring less need for maintenance.

On roofs, vinyl and aluminum sidings are used to protect buildings from the effects of weather. Although less energy intensive to manufacture, vinyl sidings are harder or often impossible, to recycle. Vinyl (or PVC) is itself flammable and can cause problems for fire fighters with the release of dangerous gases when it burns.

Inside the building, attics and lofts can be also insulated to prevent the otherwise massive amounts of escaping heat. Luckily, anyone with some DIY skills can tackle the problem simply by laying insulation blankets across floorboards, restraint straps and brickwork. However, care must be taken not to restrict all air-flow within a structure as this inevitably leads to humidity and condensation, which can drastically reduce the efficiency of insulation materials. Air exchange systems are thus essential in effective long-term energy conservation.



Next time you have some work done, make sure your builder doesn’t leave the energy efficient windows back in the transit with the van vault. Energy proof your building now, and reap the benefits over the coming years.