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.

St Lucia Real Estate Tips: 5 Ways for Green Living on the Caribbean Island

St Lucia’s rich biodiversity and natural beauty play a significant role in the island’s culture and economy. The island’s 2 major industries, tourism and agriculture, both depend on sustainable environmental practices. In 2004 the Pitons were inducted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to their outstanding beauty and unique ecology. Environmental awareness is therefore a crucial part of life in St Lucia. Every human interaction with nature leaves behind an indelible fingerprint. When building a home in St Lucia you should be vigilant to minimize the impact on the environment. Here are 5 easy ways in which you can do so.

Do not clear land indiscriminately. Before starting construction, consider how your home will impact the tree cover in the area. St Lucia is a heavily vegetated country. The prevalence and variety of trees is one of the things which makes the island unique. Save as many mature trees as possible. Incorporate existing foliage into the design and layout of your house. This ensures that the island remains green. Mature trees also add majesty and beauty, while keeping a property cool.

Use renewable energy. Sunlight and wind are two of St Lucia’s most abundant natural resources. It is now possible to have one’s home completely powered by solar panels and wind turbines. Whether you use wind, solar or a combination of the two depends on the location of your home. For instance, home sites on the island’s east coast have a constant Atlantic breeze, and are well placed to utilize wind power. While solar or wind power will increase your construction costs, it will eliminate utility bills in the future. In St Lucia, electricity is the most costly utility and the savings will add up in the long run. Renewable energy also reduces the burning of fossil fuel and helps to keep the air clean while reducing the island’s carbon footprint.

Harvest rain water. St Lucia has approximately 2000 mm of annual rainfall. Using drainage systems, it is easy to collect rainwater, which is stored in tanks or underground cisterns. This helps conserve the island’s public water supply. It also ensures that you have a backup if there are shortages after a hurricane.

Maximize natural ventilation to minimize cooling costs. In St Lucia, air conditioning units are major culprits when it comes to high energy usage. Keeping your house naturally cool will significantly reduce your consumption of electricity. High ceilings, large windows, insulated roofs and cross ventilation are just a few ways in which your house can be designed to remain cool. Many homes in St Lucia are located on elevated hillsides where there is a constant breeze. A well ventilated house can eliminate (or at least greatly reduce) the need for air conditioning. (Besides the practical benefits, high ceilings and large windows are great for admiring those amazing St Lucian vistas!)

Grow a kitchen garden. Gardens flourish in St Lucia’s rich, volcanic soil and tropical weather. It is common for backyards to be laden with tropical foods such as mangoes, guavas, dasheen or breadfruit. Eat your own organic, delicious fruit, vegetables and herbs grown right in your back yard! Once you’ve gotten your garden started it’s easy to maintain. The prevalence of backyard gardening helps ensure the island’s food security and preserves the indigenous foliage. The rewards are delicious and good for both you and the environment!

These are just a handful of ways to live a nature friendly lifestyle if you have decided to buy St Lucia real estate. The island is loved for its lush, green beauty. Everyone in the country must play their part to maintain this. Cautious real estate development can enhance rather than diminish the island’s natural environment. Energy efficiency is also a great investment as it will make your home more appealing to buyers should you ever decide to sell.