Focus on Green Homes – Landscaping to Save Energy

Landscaping a home in green manner is an important part of planning and building your green home. Landscaping consumes a lot of water and maintaining your yard can produce a large amount of carbon monoxide. Green landscaping means selecting plants that reduce the amount of water used to keep them alive.

For the lawn, plant grass that grows very slowly and requires very little water to survive. By planting this type of grass, your lawn would not need to be mowed every week, but maybe only a few times a summer, reducing the amount of exhaust from your mowing activities. Also since water bills are usually calculated by consumption, the less water the yard requires, the lower the water bill.

For the plants and bushes around the home, select hardy plants. Hardy plants are less susceptible to diseases and damaging pests, allowing you to forego or eliminate pesticides and fertilizers. The less of these chemicals that are used the better it is for the environment, reducing the amount of chemicals that run-off of plants during a rainstorm and soak into the ground. This type of run-off of pesticides and fertilizers has the potential to contaminate ground water and drinking water.

Another major consideration with green landscaping is the heat island effect. The heat island effect is heat from the home, from man-made surfaces around the home, and from the lack of appropriate landscaping. The combined heat from these sources can increase the temperature in a community noticeably. Heat islands can cause increased use of air conditioning, increased air pollution and greenhouse gas production, and lower water quality.

For your green home, this effect can make your heating and cooling systems less effective. The right types of landscaping can help prevent the heat island effect. For example, planting our hardy trees, shrubs and plants at least 24 inches away from the house can break up the heat transfer mechanism. In addition, planting deciduous trees on the west side of your green home or along driveways and walkways can be very effective for cooling the house and yard. Plan ahead, though. Trees and bushes growth over time can interfere with the effectiveness of any solar panels that are installed.

When planning your landscaping, plan to install a rain barrel as well. Why not store some of the run-off rainwater for eco-friendly, free water for watering the lawn, plants, scrubs, and trees? In addition to a rain barrel, the ground can be shaped to direct water coming from the roof and the ground during a rainstorm to collect around the plants, shrubs, and trees in the yard. This allows the earth to do your work for you. As the water from the storm drains into the ground, the last part of the ground to dry out is the part of the lawn that received the most water, reducing the amount of tap water needed.

By taking the extra time to address these issues during the design of your green home, you can achieve a beautiful, very low maintenance and environmental-friendly landscaped yard.

Green Buildings in San Diego

In today’s world it is hard not to be aware of just how important it is to be Earth-friendly through the promotion of green energy and technology. People and businesses alike are trying to reduce their carbon footprint, recycle and find ways to be kind to the planet. That concept is very apparent amongst San Diego, California builders and construction companies. Many of these organizations are leading the way and spear heading the effort to be “green” in their everyday operations, making the community of San Diego stand out in the number of buildings that are being built with the best green technology science has to offer.

One of the reasons green building is so prevalent in San Diego is because the government in charge of the area has instituted a Green Building Program that is designed to encourage and motivate homeowners and construction companies to build homes and structures that are focused on environmentally centered practices and procedures.

In addition, the Green Building Program rewards those homeowners, construction companies and builders who choose to participate. There are numerous incentives offered when guidelines and rules are followed. For instance, if a builder chooses to participate in this program they will not be charged any fees associated with the building permit. In addition, builders can receive rebates on cost of supplies and other credits when they use green building practices.

Many builders have participated in this program ands some builders in San Diego have instituted a green “division” in their business, focusing specifically on environmentally friendly products for homeowners who wish to incorporate this into their new construction.

San Diego is standing out as one area of the country where green housing has caught on. In particular, certain communities are being highlighted such as the 2,500 home community of Del Sur in San Diego. This is one complex that was originally planned twenty years ago and the focus on environmentally friendly housing has earned this community a Platinum Certification from the United States Green Council for recognition as one of the world’s most environmentally friendly communities.

There are many major benefits when focusing on green building in new construction or when updating your current house. While there is an initial expense to fit your house with a solar energy system, tank-less water heater or weather based irrigation system, there are also massive savings when your green energy based home begins to reap the benefits of being more efficient.

Studies show that water bills and energy bills are reduced dramatically. For instance, the community of Del Sur will save $58,000 per year collectively through the combined use of energy efficient products. That doesn’t include the amount many of those homeowners will receive in tax rebates and credits not only from the local government but from the federal government.

Green energy is the way of the future and it is refreshing to see San Diego leading the way. Through the use of green energy, you will not only ensure that your home or office is beautiful, but you will also make sure it is friendly to the environment.

Simple Ways to Make Your House More Green

Going green is not just meant for Earth Day. You don’t need to join rallies. Inside your house, there are simpler ways to contribute to a greener and healthier environment. Here are simple ways towards a greener home.

Energy savers

Make your house greener by saving energy. The more energy you save, the less you contribute to greenhouse emission. Instead of using incandescent bulbs, why not switch to CFLs or compact fluorescent lights. They have longer life spans than the incandescent. Unplug appliances when not in use. Make schedules on when to use the washing machine, dryer, and flat iron. Do not use them on few pieces of clothes. It’s more advisable to use them on full load.

Lights are necessary but you don’t have to turn them on all day. Let natural light from the sun enter your doors and windows. Open your curtains, drapes, and blinds. The sunlight can also help lessen the running times of your coolers.

Air refreshers

The quality of indoor air should be cleaner than the air outside. When possible, smoking should be avoided when inside the premises of the house. If there are smoking family members, encourage them to stop the habit.

Utilize the air-sieving capabilities of plants. It will help if you have plants and some trees in your lawn or garden. Their leaves can sieve pollutants and prevent them from entering your house. They also play essential role in the oxygen-carbon dioxide cycle.

Go natural

Sometimes it really pays to use natural things than artificial ones. This is particularly relevant when cleaning agents are talked of. There are many commercially-available cleaners but most of them contain chemicals that are harmful both to the health of your family and to the environment. Baking soda is a popular alternative to cleansers because it is nontoxic. It can serve as a multipurpose cleaner. If you can’t refrain from buying commercial cleaners, it is better if you’ll inspect the labels to see if they contain natural ingredients. There are detergents, soaps, and dishwashing pastes and liquids that are made from natural fruit extracts. Within your kitchen, you can make use of readily-available natural ingredients like citrus fruits and tea tree oil. Vinegar is a very good toilet-cleaning agent when mixed with borax.

You don’t have to spend much just to make your house greener and healthier. You don’t even need to possess fantastic powers to make your house an amazing headquarters of comfort, convenience, and relaxation. Sometimes, it’s all in your hands and minds!

Will Buyers Go Green in Austin, Texas?

In the city of Austin a new energy ordinance will require that homeowners have an energy efficiency audit done prior to selling their home. The audit report must be disclosed to the buyer of their home. Energy audit and disclosure will become a part of the home purchase process in mid 2009.

In Austin’s hot climate energy performance has a lot to do with how efficiently the central AC system works. We are more concerned about cooling than heating, but both systems are used throughout the year. The new law aims to upgrade the energy performance of older homes in these critical areas:

Finding leaks and closing gaps in AC ducts. (Ducts can have 10% – 30% leakage!)

Improving the insulation in the attic to help retain conditioned air.

Keeping the hot sun out with solar screens on windows.

Reducing the loss of conditioned air through cracks in doorways and windows.

After some resistance by homeowners and groups, the law stopped short of making energy upgrades mandatory in order to sell a home. In today’s market, it does not make sense to add difficulty or cost to the sale process. So, the law was pared back to just require that sellers have an energy audit, and disclose the results to potential buyers.

Will buyers demand that the home they buy pass muster in terms of energy efficiency? The market will have to sort this out. I think that, over time, they probably will. Sellers will anticipate this by taking steps to correct the wasteful loss of energy in their home. Most sellers would like to have a positive report to show prospective buyers. They will want to have a clean bill of health. And, we must admit, the items required for testing are really fundamental.

They are so fundamental that they are generally not noticed. These are not the green features that are ego satisfying or visually appealing. We don’t see them featured in Dwell Magazine. They are not as exciting as wind turbines, or solar panels, or rainwater catchment, or Icestone counters. These are things that most people would rather not think about. Like caulking and duct mastic. And, unglamorous dark screens and dusty old attic insulation. These are not the upgrades that cause buyers to say, “I love it.”

So they have never been top of mind concerns. Austin’s new energy audit law is going change all that. It will bring these behind-the-scenes basics into the limelight. Old houses will meet new tech. Homeowners will be able to improve the basic energy efficiency of homes. That will mean lower utility bills. And fewer carbon-spewing power plants. And, a greener Austin.

GRIHA: All You Need to Know About This Green Rating in India

Getting your home a green rating can help increase its value by a lot. GRIHA rating is one of the rating systems that you can use in India. Keep reading to find out about the GRIHA rating system and how you can apply for it.

What is GRIHA?

GRIHA or Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment rates the performance of a green home in energy consumption, waste management, and renewable energy resource management.

Eligibility to Apply for a GRIHA Certificate

Any building under the design stage and covering more than 2500 square meters can apply for a GRIHA certificate. These buildings include residential buildings, office spaces, institutions, hotels, shopping complexes, hospitals and so on, but exclude any industrial units like factories and plants.

Process of Application for a GRIHA Certificate

First, you have to register your property on the GRIHA website by filling up the online registration form. Register at the pre-design stage to clarify any construction issues.

Next, you need to submit soft copies of the documents pertaining to the criteria. The final step is the evaluation, which is conducted by the Association for Development and Research of Social Habitats (ADaRSH).

How GRIHA Certifies a Building

Under the GRIHA system, the ADaRSH team evaluates green homes in India based on 34 criteria and rates them on a scale of 1 to 100. The 34 criteria fall under four sections, each section dealing with a particular aspect of building a green home. Each criterion has a number of points allotted to it for scoring purpose.

1. Site Planning

GRIHA rates green homes based on the various phases of site planning. This includes site selection, preservation of landscape, soil conservation, minimizing air pollution, provision of proper sanitary facilities for construction workers, and so on. There are 24 points allotted for this section.

2. Building Planning and Construction Stage

The building planning and construction stage is the most important criterion. This includes regulating water usage and water quality, optimization of energy demand and the performance of the building, implementation of renewable energy systems, proper waste management system using environment-friendly construction materials, and so on. GRIHA has allotted a total of 68 points for this section.

3. Building Operation and Maintenance

This phase has only 8 points and includes the preparation of the energy audit report and the protocol regarding operation and maintenance of the building infrastructure.

4. Innovation

The final criterion is innovation. Four extra points are allotted to this section. A green home can score these bonus points if it can implement new, innovative ideas on modes of alternative transportation, environmental education, and so on.

GRIHA Star Ratings for Green Homes

A green home needs to have a minimum of 50 points to be GRIHA-certified. A home is awarded a particular star rating depending on the number of points it scores.

Points Scored by a Green Home & Star Rating

  • 50-60 – 1 star
  • 61-70 – 2 star
  • 71-80 – 3 star
  • 81-90 – 4 star
  • 91-100 – 5 star