Living in Green Buildings

Conserving energy is on the forefront of everyone’s mind during these times of rising costs. One area you may think about is that building your own home gives you the opportunity to create an energy-efficient lifestyle right from the very beginning. There are three basic components you can focus on in your colonial home plans that will ensure your home will be more energy efficient no matter where you live. These components include using plenty of insulation, having proper exposure to the sun and the use of efficient heating and cooling systems.

No matter where you live, insulation is the most important way to keep warm and cool air from entering or escaping your home. The most common areas needing insulation are the exterior walls, basements, floors, cantilevered areas, walls and ceilings between heated and unheated areas. The types of insulation used are compared according to their R-values or the resistance to heat flow. The greater the R-value the more the insulation stops hot or cool air from leaking out. Figuring out which insulation should be used can be included in your Victorian home plans.

The most effective insulation materials known as foam insulation are polyurethane and polystyrene. They have the highest R-values yet are more costly. Mineral wool, a generic term including fiberglass, glass wool and rock wool, is the most widely used insulation type because it is versatile and fairly inexpensive. Another type of insulation, made out of wood fiber, is called “loose fill.” It is poured from bags or blown with special equipment into cavities that are not easily reachable. Its low cost is offset by a higher risk of fire, rot and insect infestation.

Since most heat escapes from a home through the openings created by doors and windows, insulating these areas is crucial. One way is to use double or triple-pane windows throughout the house.

Multi-pane windows allow just as much sun heat to enter, as do single-pane windows, but they tend to sharply reduce its outward flow. Double-pane windows can cut heat loss by 50 percent over single-pane windows. Triple-pane windows are slightly more effective and can cut heat loss by 65 percent, although they can be very costly and too heavy for some window frames.

In addition, caulking should be applied along window and door frames, as well as around pipes, vents and other perforations of your home’s outer shell. Long-life silicone or latex caulking works best.

Included in your large house plan should be outfitting your home with an energy-efficient heating and cooling system that will keep your family comfortable on the coldest and the hottest days. Products to look for may carry the EnergyStar logo and may end up saving money. Some electric and gas companies even offer rebates to homeowners with systems backed with this certification.

Another attractive way to heat your home is with the simple power of the sun. Think about the site and the home’s orientation in relationship to the sun. You should position your house so that most of the window glass faces south to take advantage of the sun’s heat in the winter. In addition, solar panels may added throughout your home to increase the use of this energy source all throughout the year.

How to Make Commercial Buildings More Green?

Offices and commercial buildings have a major impact on environment. Designing sustainable buildings not only augurs well for the environment, but also improves the company’s profit over time. For long, green construction was mostly limited to homes. However, with time, the concept is fast catching up during construction of commercial apartments. Let’s take a look how real estate developers are making office buildings more green.

Green roofs

Eco-friendly advances don’t just focus on the building’s structure and architecture. It starts from the top. Layers of plants and grass on the top moderate outdoor heat during summer and retain warmth during winter. Though such roofs are costly, yet they reap benefits in the long run.

Living walls

Vegetation covers living walls. These walls improve air quality and reflect solar radiation. The walls absorb rainwater and play a big role in reducing building temperature. The walls improve the overall aesthetics of a room and act as effective noise barriers.

Passive solar building design

In this type of design the walls, floors and windows distribute solar energy in the form of heat in winter and reject it during summer. Sun is a part of the building’s lighting in this design. Though complicated, passive solar building design doesn’t cost much. An apartment using this design uses materials that have high thermal mass along with large windows and deciduous plants on its southern side.

Smart lighting

Lighting is an important aspect of eco-friendly buildings. Developers are installing automated systems that turn off lights when not required. A green commercial property focuses more on using natural daylight to cut the dependence on artificial lights during the day.

Smart glass

Small glass or electrochromic glass allows users to control the amount of heat or light passing through the glass. Through these glasses, one can regulate temperature of the room. These glasses, based on the principle of electrochromism, change their opacity or color when electricity passes through them. They save air-conditioning cost and most of them block the harmful ultraviolet rays.

Dual piping system

Green apartments focus on water conservation. Dual piping system is an effective way to conserve water. Water gets divided into two types – portable and reclaimed – in this system. While portable water is used for drinking, reclaimed water is used to clean toilets.

With time, green building has become a big business. In many countries of the world, developers get grants and incentives for construction of such apartments. Companies also look for eco-friendly buildings to conduct their business. Because of their huge benefits, the demand for these apartments will further rise in coming days.

8 Amazing Green Buildings in the World – 2015

The Bullitt Center built by the Bullitt Foundation, a Seattle-based non-profit group that focuses on urban ecology was officially opened on Earth Day, 2013. It is certified as one of the world’s 21 Living Buildings, i.e. the building generates as much energy as it consumes; supplies its own water, and processes its own sewage. The rooftop solar panels produce more power than is consumed. Two years since it was occupied, the building’s energy-efficiency is commendable; with the building generating 60% more energy than it used.

NuOffice in Munich, Germany was commissioned by Haupt Immobilien, and created with the help of European-funded research group DIRECTION and the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics. NuOffice was awarded the LEED Platinum certification – the highest rating ever issued by the body for a building of its type. NuOffice is equipped with a photovoltaic solar system covering most of the building’s roof, and its triple-glazed windows provide excellent insulation. Radiant heating and cooling systems, which are connected to a complex district heating system in the basement keep energy usage low and the interior comfortable. The building’s inner courtyard design creates natural cross-ventialtion and allows sufficient daylight on both the inside and outside.

One Angel Square is the head office of the Co-operative Group Housing. Built in 2013, it has been awarded an “Outstanding” Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM) rating. Sustainable features of the building include a high performance, double-skinned facade, earth tubes for heating and cooling, rainwater harvesting and a future-proof sensor that will help the building anticipate a three to five degree increase in summer temperatures and a 30% increase in winter rainfall. It is also an energy-plus building, producing surplus energy and zero carbon emissions. One of the building’s passive solar design features is the south-facing atrium.

Shanghai Tower is currently the tallest building in China and the second-tallest in the world. But the fact that it claims to be ‘the greenest super high-rise on earth’ has grabbed eyeballs. The design of the tower’s glass facade, which completes a 120° twist as it rises, is intended to reduce the natural wind-generated sway of tall buildings, by 24%. The Shanghai Tower thus used 25% less structural steel than a conventional design of a tower of similar height. The double-layered insulating glass façade was designed to reduce the need for indoor air conditioning, and is composed of an advanced reinforced glass with a high tolerance for shifts in temperature.

Sky Studios in West London is advertised as ‘the most sustainable broadcast studio’. Architects Arup Partners treated Sky Studios more as an indoor city than an average building. Sustainable innovations include a biomass-fueled cooling, heating and power plant, one of the UK’s largest urban wind turbines, which generates enough electricity to power 90% of the facility’s lighting and a rainwater tank that provides 100% of the building’s water. The facility was built to capture every viable natural resource on the site and to radically minimise energy use. The CCHP plant also provides sufficient green energy to significantly reduce the carbon emissions of the building.

The Crystal, in London, a Sustainable Cities Initiative by Siemens, offers a fossil fuel free vision of the future. It is an all-electric building that uses solar power and ground source heat pumps to generate its own energy. It also stores electrical energy in a giant battery to ensure excess power can be saved for use when supply is low. The building incorporates rainwater harvesting, black water treatment, solar heating and automated building management systems. The design of the building’s structure, including its glass, provides additional insulation, helping it achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum and BREEAM Outstanding ratings.

The PNC Financial Services Group sees its new headquarters in Pittsburgh – The Tower at PNC Plaza. The “breathing” design created by architecture firm Gensler moves away from the traditional closed air-conditioned environment and allows Employees in the 33 floor glass tower to access daylight and fresh air. The facade will feature operable doors and windows that admit fresh air into the building during optimal conditions. A solar chimney is another component of the structures passive system: it pulls air in through the open windows, rather than sucking air out as usually occurs in a high rise building, then the air then travels across the floors, is heated and exhaled through the roof shaft.

The YS Sun Green Building Research Center at National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan has been awarded top honors by the USGBC. The three-story 4800 square meter building utilizes 13 different sustainable building techniques in order to achieve a 65% energy savings and a 50% water savings over typical office buildings. Among these, the most exciting one is the natural buoyancy ventilation technology, allowing an international conference hall which can fit 300 people to stay cool in summer and warm in winter without turning on the air conditioning. The YS Sun Green Building Research Center is the first green architectural education center in the subtropical zone, which is open for research development as well as promotion work of green technology.

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.