4 Green Building Materials – Selection and Criteria

Green building materials help homeowners save on energy, resulting in tremendous savings in the power bills. Apart from increased energy efficiency, home owners also benefit from increased flexibility on count of maintenance costs too. Improved design flexibility is also another reason why people go for green building materials for their homes.

Here are 4 criteria for you to choose green building materials for your homes:

1. Resource efficiency – Resource efficiency can be targeted by making use of the products that meet the below mentioned metrics.

  • Natural and renewable – Basically, preference is given to materials that come from sustainable managed resources and are certified by an independent third party body.
  • Manufacturing processes’ efficiency – The products that are produced with the help of resource and energy efficient process, take precedence in the final choice.
  • Local availability – One of the main benefits of using green building materials is that they are and should be locally available.
  • ยท Durability – The materials used in constructing such buildings must last longer than other conventional materials used for construction purposes.

2. Improvement in air quality – Products or materials that meet the below mentioned criteria, should be used.

  • Non-toxic content – When used, the materials shouldn’t emit any toxic wastes, either in solid, liquid or gaseous forms.
  • The products should also have minimum emissions of volatile organic compounds. Such materials should be able to maximize or optimize energy efficiency and in the process, should also reduce chemical emissions.
  • The products and the materials should be able to resist moisture or any unforeseen moisture attacks.

3. Energy efficiency is an important metric to look out for, which can be fulfilled by selecting building materials that help in the reduction of water consumption in buildings and other associated facilities.

4. The building materials used in green buildings construction should be able to reduce water consumption in buildings.

Constructing green buildings is clearly a good idea for developers and home owners to work with, especially if they wish to save a lot of energy. These buildings will definitely help in conserving energy and improving health and productivity, but that can only be achieved if the right building materials are used. By following the criteria mentioned above, developers could look forward to selecting the right building materials for a green building design.

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Background Of Green Belts And Their Share To Mother Nature

A Green Belt is not only about your expertise level in martial arts but also with the improvement of the earth. A Green Belt is really an unseen line specified as undeveloped, which remains so to allow wildlife to come back and gain a foothold in the area. These are similar to but distinctive from “greenways” and “green wedges,” which can run through an urban area instead of around it.

Green Belts greatly benefit the people that live within them despite the fact that such specified areas are seriously restricted in terms of development. It’s priorities relate to the natural environment, the air we breathe, wide open spaces and the integrity of the countryside.

Green Belts will not work well in all areas, and success hinges a great deal on the surrounding environment. These areas occasionally end up in uneven borders and the creation of “satellite towns,” which work more like suburbs than independent communities even though they are technically detached from urban areas by a Green Belt.

Although there is evidence that it is an ancient concept, in the contemporary world this kind of policy was started in the 1930s in Great Britain. You can find fourteen Green Belts in England today. Known as green space or greenspace in the United States, the boundaries tend to be smaller and are usually confined to small spaces, such as parks.

Mandated city plans, restrictive covenants, or land use designations are the usual ways in which these are established. Several communities have placed a priority on such installations, encouraging people to think about the significance of city planning on the natural environment.

A major criticism of this derives from the fact that a Green Belt is likely to spur the expansion of areas a great deal further away from the middle of the city, increasing urban spread. Urban sprawl has become a genuine predicament in Ottawa, Canada, in the suburbs of both Kanata and Orleans. Other problems, such as travelling difficulties and land reserve issues, can develop with this.

A Green Belt has its pros and cons, but it is more optimistic concerning its effects on the environment. Conserving water, regulating temperature and giving a home for wildlife are three important priorities relating to a Green Belt. It is a move in the right direction, even according to its many critics.

Sustainable Materials – How They Are Selected and the Benefits of Using Them

Green buildings are one of the must-have homes of the century. If you have seen them, you will probably say, “They’re expensive”. Yes, they may cost slightly more compared to average homes but certainly, they are no rip-offs.

Owners of green buildings have enjoyed great benefits. For one, they have become more energy and water efficient. Second, they have maintained a healthy lifestyle. Third, they can enjoy a safer environment. Fourth, they have saved a lot of money from maintaining the quality of their lifestyle, as well as from maintaining their homes. Lastly, they can perform their activities of daily living without hurting Mother Nature in the process.

You are probably wondering what makes green buildings beneficial. The main reason lies on various sustainable materials.

What are sustainable materials?

Every building has its own materials used for construction. When put together, they bring life to a plan that was once just a blueprint. It has also an effect on the quality and the overall look of the building. However, materials vary and not all of them can make an efficient building. Some of them may be toxic and impractical. Hence, they can have tremendous negative effects (both financial and health related) on its occupants.

Sustainable materials eliminate the many risks that other materials can bring. They all come from renewable resources, which means they come from plants and trees. They are also non-toxic and recyclable.

Basis for selection

If you want to own a green building as a home, you have to know certain criteria to ensure that whatever materials used in that property is sustainable. Or perhaps, if you plan to have your home constructed in the near future, knowing these criteria will assist you in picking out the right materials to be used.

Here are some of them:

1. It should come from resources that are bountiful and rapidly growing.

2. They should be available within your locality.

3. They should not contain any forms of carcinogens or emit toxic chemicals that could compromise Indoor Air quality.

4. They should be durable and recyclable even after they are fully depreciated

5. They should be certified by their manufacturers to prove sustainability.

As the owner, you should also take time to research about the material and understand their possible effects to human living. This way a more educated decision and selection can take place. Doing this gives homeowners the opportunity to rip the maximum benefit that a sustainable material can give when made into a green building.

Issues regarding affordability

Every homeowner’s concern in home buying is about the affordability. This goes the same in using sustainable materials. As mentioned above, it may be expensive for other people. However, if you create a cost-benefit analysis, you can really say that it is affordable.

There are various tools on the internet can guide contractors and homeowners in doing the analysis. They consist of information about the life cycle, economic performance, environmental impact and cost-effectiveness of various sustainable materials. They may also have possible recommendations as to how they should be integrated to the design. Therefore, do some researching to ascertain the cost-efficiency of the materials.

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.

Tax Preparation Means Solution to Business

Every business or person involved in a certain business should consider some important things before they take a move in filing their income tax return. One of these considerations is determining and choosing what methods are the most appropriate and what are the best when it comes to preparing taxes. This becomes very much handy especially when the time for filing taxes is already forthcoming.

Without a doubt, choosing the method for tax preparation greatly depends on the tax situation of any particular taxpayer. For that reason, complicated tax situations need professional insights in regards to how income taxes should really be prepared. This kind of services are generally done and managed by attorneys, certified public accountant or any licensed professional.

Filing Taxes on Your Own

Seeking for a professional tax preparer can be a waste of time for some, while for most thrifty and ordinary taxpayers, it can cost a lot of money for a business. There are some basic and really easy solutions that many companies these days are offering to alleviate the burden of the taxpayers on preparing their taxes.

It can be done all by themselves with the help of software products of servicing companies. If they want their business tax returns to be prepared at once without them learning the “easier said than done” details of tax laws and escaping the mental weight and stress, there are online services provided by business companies for their own comfort.

Doing It with the Help of Pros

Because of a lot of advantages, some individuals and businesses prefer to hire a tax advisor to get their work done in consequence of the fact that it can cut the taxation down to size. Consulting a financial expert that is especially trained in laws pertaining to taxes also helps individuals and businesses to get away from the complex tax situations. It is best to get the assistance of a tax professional who:

1. Guarantees his work.

2. Has a wide knowledge in the field of preparing tax returns.

3. Had long hours of training and many years of experience on financial matters.

4. Is reachable and active throughout the whole year.

Just remember to always consider the techniques or methods mentioned, be it done on your own or with a licensed professional’s assistance. With the right choice from a good selection of service providers, you will end up with good solutions for your business needs.

Eco-Friendly Construction Trends

Following green building practices is one of the ways to go green. As a lot of emphasis is laid on sustainability and energy-efficiency, the construction firms want to spare no effort in effectively meeting the growing demands of customers. To get the LEED certification, constructors and builders need to follow certain standards that have been set forth, so that proper materials are used for building purposes. Thus, they are now building houses with “green” consciousness in mind. Some of the eco-friendly construction trends, being followed by these companies, are outlined below.

When building a bathroom, they make sure to put together a nice and energy-saving set up. Bathroom accessories are also chosen very wisely. Smart and low flow toilets are installed, which not only save water but also look very attractive. In fact, this would also provide great relief to the areas where scarcity of water is a serious issue during hotter months of the year. Builders are also taking good care of decreasing energy usage in other parts of the house. Installing solar panels on the roof is a good example of this.

Builders, today, have become much smarter when choosing the materials which go into the whole construction process. They are seeking building materials which are good for environment. Thus, they pick raw materials that can retain heat and reduce energy consumption. The best part is that all these materials release fewer harmful gases and detrimental waste in the environment. Structural insulated rim boards and insulated panels fit well here and this is the reason, why they are highly used in most of the homes, built recently.

The best constructors and builders combine all elements of latest style with environmental concerns, so as to come up with the best product. Since, today home buyers are more eco-conscious than a few years ago, cost-effectiveness is not the only thing that they look for. They want to use green options throughout the construction process, right from selecting the kitchen equipment to deciding about the material for flooring. Instead of opting for technologically sound raw materials, materials that are recyclable are being considered.

“Green building”, a term used for describing the construction of eco-friendly buildings, has therefore become extremely popular. Moreover, the fact that costs involved in green building practices are only two or three percent higher than the amount that goes into a conventional dwelling, makes it a much better option. Not to mention, the long-term benefits offered by a sustainable design, mainly because green buildings are likely to conserve more electricity and water. So, even if they are slightly pricier to build, they would eventually save you a lot of money by conserving energy and water in the long run. If you want to make the most of eco-friendly construction trends, then make sure the builder or constructor you choose employs only green building practices. Also, feel free to give your own suggestions regarding the materials or products to be used during the construction of your new house.

Alternative Building Materials Like Straw

In this next conversation about alternate materials used to build a home, straw is definitely be a viable option. Straw, an agricultural byproduct, is the dry stalk of cereal plants left over once the grain and chaff have been removed. Aside from producing half of the cereal yield, straw is used for fuel, livestock bedding and fodder, as well as basket making and thatching. When stored in bales, straw can take on a whole new use. More specifically it can be used to make straw bale homes. Straw that is used for this particular purpose is usually covered with an earthen plaster and stacked in rows and held together by a cement mixture.

Straw bale homes have been gaining popularity due to the benefits the homes provide to homeowners. The use of this particular resource provides homeowners with better living conditions. Straw has many advantages when used as an alternative building material, including its renewable nature, its low cost, high insulation value, it is easily available, and is naturally fire retardant. The fact that straw has a relatively low cost makes it an ideal option when comparing prices to more conventional building materials. Being able to save money will help, especially in the cost of building a house.

Straw is also a very readily available resource that is easy to acquire. Natural resources are very important to the environment and using them for projects such as home building make its acquirability even more important. The fact that straw is readily available and is by no means scarce makes it a top choice when making an effort to be environment friendly.

One big upside to using straw as insulation or as actual walls is that straw is naturally flame retardant. Any homeowner would love the idea of a flame retardant home. Many people could rest easy knowing their home has added protection against unexpected fires due to the material from which it is built.

Lastly, straw has a the ability to provide exceptional insulation. Quality of living is important for any home. There are certain standards a home should be built by and quality insulation is a main factor in achieving that end. Whether you need insulation to protect you from the heat or cold, straw will help regulate the temperature that would be best suited for its homeowners’ location and climate. Straw has been used in the process of building homes dating all the way back to the Paleolithic era and also used in teepees as insulation during the winter. Straw is a readily available resource that has many properties that could help make your house a home.

Solar Lighting For Subdivisions – Earth-Friendly Ways To Make Your Community Beautiful

Solar lights solve many challenges for housing subdivisions. This article describes simple applications of solar technology that homeowners’ associations can use to cut costs, increase security, and improve the aesthetics of their community. These applications include:

  1. Solar sign lights for entrance signs and public buildings.
  2. Solar-powered security lights to automatically light common areas as people approach.
  3. Deck lights for use around pool, patio and tennis areas.
  4. Landscape lights to highlight garden features and pathways.

Generally, solar systems save money in both installation and operation. They don’t need expensive wiring for installation and there is no need to connect to your local electric utility. The sun charges them every evening, and will automatically turn them on each evening.

Solar Sign Lights Most subdivisions have signs at their entrances, but these signs are typically far from the homes and utility connections. Rather than dig trenches and run wires to distant signs, solar sign lighting provides a cost-effective solution. They turn on automatically each evening, eliminating the requirement for a lamp timer. Smaller solar spotlights can even be used to mark street intersections or common buildings.

Motion-Activated Security Lighting Solar-powered floodlights come with motion sensors that automatically turn the light on as someone approaches. This capability can be used to improve security in dark areas around the complex, including entryways and walkways.

Deck Lights Many housing developments include swimming pools, tennis courts and common decks as part of their amenities. Solar deck lighting can be used to highlight these areas at night. Placed around the perimeter of a deck or walkway, these lights help guide residents to their destination and create a more festive atmosphere.

Landscape Lighting A wide range of solar garden lights are available to highlight landscape features around common areas. Most useful are solar pathway lights, which consist of decorative independent lights that emit a soft glow. These typically include an embedded solar panel so no wiring is necessary. All that needs to be done is stick them in the ground.

Help your homeowners’ association create an earth-friendly, low-cost and pleasant environment with solar lighting!

Should the World Go Modular?

Modular buildings are built almost entirely in a factory and arrive at the site 90 – 95% complete. Framing, insulation, roofing, siding, doors, windows, electrical, plumbing, and interior finishes are completed in the secure environment of the factory. After which, the modules are shipped to the site where they are ready to be finished with interior amenities, appliances, paint, and carpet.

Key Advantages of Modular Construction?

Short Build Times

Typically, 50-60% less time is taken when compared to traditional methods.

Safer Construction

Modular construction has proven much safer than traditional constructional methods.

Environment Friendly

Efficient factory production techniques are less wasteful and installation is less disruptive.

Reduced Labor Requirement

The erection and finishing teams require fewer workers than traditional methods.

Flexibility

Modular construction can easily be disassembled and then get relocated for new use.

Adaptability

The buildings are designed to quickly add or remove modules suiting to the need of the client.

What types of modular construction are there?

They are of two types: Permanent construction and Relocatable construction. Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages.

Permanent Construction

This type of construction provides markets with the performance of conventional construction in roughly half the time. This construction has a life cycle expectancy identical to that of conventional construction. The design considerations for permanent construction is higher.

Relocatable Construction

It provides the market with instant relief for space needs as the project time for this type of construction is very less. The construction generally provides a life cycle of 1 – 7 years. This market is primarily driven by low-cost of production and speed of construction.

A report by a market research firm estimates a high growth rate for the global modular construction market.

The market is still in its early stages, particularly in the United States, despite having been in existence for at least 25 years. Countries, such as the United Kingdom and India, have shown a significant increase in modular construction. In India, the government plans to build 50 million homes and more than 90 smart cities by the year 2022. Certain cities, like Bengaluru, have already inculcated the modular construction in the residential and industrial sectors.

The main hurdles for modular construction market are increased costs in transportation and logistics. Studies have shown that shipping modules become cost prohibitive when they must travel more than 150 to 200 miles from the factory to site. The industry generally recognizes 125 miles as the maximum practical distance modules should need to travel from factory to site.

Green Living in Adobe House – The Benefits of Living in a Green Adobe House

On a visit to Tucson in 2003, an old high school friend of mine, Daniel Snyder of Westwind Solar Electric, introduced me to the designer and builder Tom Wuelpern.  As the award winning owner of Rammed Earth Development, Wuelpern has built many an adobe house in the Tucson area.

Wuelpern lives and works in the Barrio Santa Rosa district of central Tucson and the 800 block of Meyer Avenue has been a principle focus of his creativity.  Here he’s built homes that complement the vintage adobes of that historic district.  When he first arrived there wasn’t a single house left on that stretch of Meyer Avenue so Wuelpern had to live out of a trailer while building his first home.  He says the neighborhood was “a little rough” and that occasionally he’d sit out in front of the trailer “with a gun over my knees.”

Things have changed since those early days when people said that Wuelpern was crazy to build in a “slum.”  Now the original residents share the Barrio Santa Rosa with, artists, architects, symphony musicians, and many other creative types attracted by the rustic character of the adobe house.

Adobe construction was first brought to the southwest by the early Spanish settlers who were originally introduced to it by the Moors from North Africa.

One old adobe after another crowds the Barrio’s dusty avenues, many of them painted in vibrant colors which scintillate in the desert heat.  The Barrio Santa Rosa really has the feel of a traditional Mexican town.

I, being a “creative type”, was enchanted by all of this and when Wuelpern offered me the opportunity to have some input on the adobe house that he was about to build, I had to say “yes.”

And it has been a treat to get to know the pleasures of a small Green adobe house. 

The walls are 18 inches thick and the floor is poured concrete with a radiant heating system embedded in it.  I chose recycled blue jeans insulation which is as effective as fiberglass for temperature but even better for sound, and more green and ecological so that it will never present any hazard to the environment or to anyone’s health.

I get a snug feeling just thinking about my adobe abode.

The paint on the interior walls is uniquely appropriate because it is a non-toxic clay paint composed of earth pigments sourced from the desert landscape itself.  All other interior paints are Non-VOC, so they do not pollute the interior space of the house.  I am always struck by the yucky smell of toxic chemicals emanating from the paint, carpeting, and other components of newly built or remodeled conventional buildings.  It’s the first thing I notice and there is none of that in this Green Living, ecological, adobe house.

In addition to benefiting our health by not out gassing toxins the natural paint allows the thick adobe walls to breathe because it doesn’t form an impermeable skin between the interior air and the walls.  These walls can then act as a temperature and humidity reservoir for the house which stabilizes the in door climate through out the day.

Adobe is not a very efficient insulating material so an adobe house is not the best choice for regions with harsh winters but it is an excellent choice for the desert where it gets very hot during the day and can be very cold at night.  This is because adobe has a good “thermal mass,” which means that as the suns heat is absorbed by the exterior walls it gradually penetrates through the wall to warm the interior during the night.  By the next morning the cold night air has cooled the wall contributing, in turn, to cooler interior temperatures during the day. This allows me to cut back on the air conditioning and the heating. 

Since adobe is essentially an inert material, the “toxic” content of the structure is hugely reduced.  This makes adobe construction, when feasible, a very attractive Green Living alternative.  Adobe construction is a reasonable way to achieve sustainable living spaces appropriate for us and the environment.

This is a very comfortable Green Living and ecological adobe house.  It is a beautiful residence which places no demand or burden upon its occupants; it feels neutral and enriches the spirit with its light and benevolent character.