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.

Green Architecture: Changing the Home Design Trends of Today

Whether you are considering a home renovation or exploring designs for a new house, one of the common suggestions that you will get both from architects and engineers is to make it adaptive and earth-friendly. For those who may not be too inclined on the technical details of home designs, “adaptive” and “earth-friendly” are just words, that also often appeal to be expensive and complicated to achieve.

However, with the ever changing trends in home designs, we need to start equipping ourselves with knowledge on economical yet safe home design choices. With this, we will try to look into the basic concepts of earth-friendly and adaptive homes – two concepts that are closely interrelated.

Earth-friendly Home Designs

These designs are born out of the campaigns of several countries for an environment-friendly lifestyle or sustainable living, which of course includes house designs. Along with this, professionals in home construction and design have also innovated their skill set to meeting these new standards.

When we speak of environment-friendly home designs, this has a lot to do with the materials used to build or renovate the house. For instance, some architects have been practicing the use of biodegradable materials in house interiors.

These design techniques closely resemble that of the ancient times, when majority of the house materials come from natural sources. Even the paint products for the house have to be eco-friendly, which is not only safer for the walls, but for the occupants’ health, as well.

Other strategies being applied by architects is the creation of outdoor rooms in the house.

This means using natural light and air to save on energy for the room. All these, along with eco-friendly household practices easily contribute to having an environmentally sustainable lifestyle.

Adaptive Home Designs

This type of home design deals with two major things:

1) the ability of the house to adapt to the changing lifestyle of its residents, and 2) ability of the house to adapt and withstand the various environmental changes.

Also operating around the concept of sustainable living, these designs are meant to make the house last longer and the family living in it safer. Common feature of these homes are sturdy lumber and concrete, insulated panels, and dome-shaped ceilings. These type of house built has been proven to be more resistant to storms, tornadoes, and even earthquakes by the Wind Engineering Research Center. With natural calamities hitting the country almost every year, it pays to be keener in the construction materials used for your house.

When it comes to adaptive spaces for home, this is where secret rooms and sliding door comes in. This is also an innovative trend that architects and interior designers are looking into, in order to make a house with limited floor area still spacious enough for a growing family. Aside from choosing space-saver and multi-purpose furniture, it is also important to choose a house design that is easier to renovate in case the need for expansion arises. And this is exactly what your architect mean when they speak of adaptive home design.

Factors To Consider When Buying A Green Home

Due to the increased levels of global warming it’s wise to think of buying a green home. Other than saving the environment, a green home also saves you a lot of money by cutting down on the need of many resources. When buying the home you should consider a number of factors such as:

Flooring materials

As rule of thumb you should buy a home with a floor made from renewable or recycled products. These products should be safe to the environment and people. They should also be installed in an eco-friendly manner without causing harmful gas emissions. Some of the best flooring materials that you should go with are:

Cork: cork is made from stripped tree barks thus leaving trees intact. The good side with it is that it’s warm and inviting. To ensure that it lasts for a long time, you should prevent it from coming into contact with water.

Bamboo: bamboo is grass; it’s not wood. The good side with it is that it can be easily nailed, stapled, and glued. It can also be made in different patterns. For the floor to last for a long time, you should ensure that the bamboo is premium and it’s made from adhesives that don’t contain formaldehyde.

Linoleum: linoleum is made from natural raw materials such as renewable wood products, jute, ground limestone, and pine trees. Linoleum floors are stain resistant, biodegradable, and don’t absorb water. The floors are also long lasting as can last for up to 40 years.

Building material

It’s also important to consider the materials used in constructing the house. The best material to go with is salvaged lumber. This is lumber that has been obtained from older homes that are on the verge of collapsing. Salvaged lumber is great because it’s aged to a density and has hardness that you can’t find in new lumber.

Solar energy

You should not buy a home that doesn’t have solar energy. In addition to conserving the environment, solar energy also saves you electricity costs.

Energy-efficient products

If you are buying a fully furnished house, you should consider the energy-efficiency of the electronic devices in the house. You should ensure that the microwaves, dryers, washers, refrigerators, iron boxes, and any other appliances are energy efficient. If they are not, you shouldn’t buy the house.

Conclusion

Flooring materials, building materials, solar energy, and energy-efficient products are the factors that you should consider when buying a green home. To ensure that you buy a high quality home you should buy it from a legitimate real estate company.

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.

A Serious Look at the Green Elements of Home Buying Or Renovation

Home builders and developers of new residential units are now instituting major changes in their design and development priorities in response to the growing desire of buyers for homes that meet higher standards for health and safety concerns for the household and Mother Earth.

Home developers are now actively engaged in the development and promotion of their respective green home dwelling options that have the following major features:

• Use of alternative steel framing which are more structurally sound and healthier than wood frames

• Low emission and energy-efficient window system

• Installation of HEPA air filtration modules

• Use of kitchen sinks outfitted with water filters

• Use of ceramic or hardwood floor materials as alternative to carpeting or vinyl floor materials

• Ventilators with heat recovery capability

Another home developer that is based in the British Columbia area has included in the mix of their home development specialties the use of healthy house features. If you are in search of new home design concept, regardless of whether you are buying from a home developer or going for custom-built units, it is important that you discuss with builders, architects and contractors about the use of healthy features in your dream home. This option may turn out to be more expensive upfront. However, the extra cost of using green elements in your home can easily be offset by long term benefits.

What are your options if you are not in the market to purchase or construct a new home property? What are your alternatives in incorporating earth-friendly aspects in your home renovations and improvements? If you are replacing something old in your home, or adding elements in order to enhance your level of comfort, you also have the opportunity to make your home a healthier and safer place for you and your family. It is also an opportunity for you to consider home repair and improvement concepts that are earth-friendly. With the incorporation of green elements in your home renovation and improvement projects, you instantly reduce your operating cost, increase home value and decrease waste and reliance to fossil fuels.

Here are some alternatives that you can consider if you are planning to incorporate green features in your home:

1. For your insulation, you may use cotton as your insulating material. Cotton delivers the same level of performance as fiberglass. It is also a safe and earth-friendly alternative.

2. You can use CA-B pressure treated wooden materials instead of the usual pressure-treated lumber for the external structures of your home. You have to remember that the latter type of lumber are treated with hazardous or toxic chemicals to prevent infestation and rot. You may also consider using sustainable construction material such as ipe, a type of Brazilian wood, for your outdoor constructions or decking. It is an attractive material aside from being rot-resistant and long-lasting building material.

3. You can also opt for the reclaimed type of redwood shingles if you require natural wood shingles in your home construction or renovation.

4. It is also wise to choose smoke detectors that don’t incorporate radioactive materials. While these trace amounts of radioactive materials in smoke detectors don’t affect the health of the inhabitants, proper disposal of these hazardous materials is a major issue.

5. You will significantly improve the quality of air in your home if you are going to replace the ordinary filters of your air conditioner and furnace with genuine HEPA filters.