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.

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.

Green Certificate: What Are Its Benefits?

Are you thinking of getting green certification for your property? Do you think it’s worth it? Have you thought of the advantages or the benefits it can give you? How would you like to be in the 79% of property owners who are expected to build green properties by 2018? If you answered Yes to these questions, read the rest of the article and know the benefits of getting your property green-certified.

  • Lessened Operating Costs: The high amount of operating expenses always burden the pockets of property owners. And to think that owning a property is something that can help shape one’s future, reducing the operating costs can clearly help save more. There are many studies that support the fact that green buildings are known to have a payback of about seven to eight years depending on the types of enhancements done relevant to energy-efficiency, sustainability, and aesthetics. According to one study, the operating costs can be reduced to as much as 13%. And if an owner converts his property to rental, he can reap an increased profit of margin by charging premium rents over competitors which are not green-certified.
  • Decreased Vacancy Rates: Owners who want to secure the future of their children are likely to opt converting their homes as property rentals. And by doing green retrofits, there is an increased chance of the property always being rented. The tenants are also likely to renew their leases because of the benefits they have experienced in their first months of tenancy. Again, studies show that there is a lower vacancy rate for green buildings. They are 4% lower as compared to property rentals which are not green-certified.
  • Surge in Investor Interest: Green buildings show consistent high scores in terms of energy efficiency. They also show consistently high rates of tenant retention causing investors to be driven closer to them. If in such instance an investor wants to add your property in its portfolio, it becomes an instant proof of their company’s commitment to sustainability. It scores them a point to shareholders who always look up for the ways that the company they invest into has a social responsibility. Thus, be sure to get your property green-certified. It is a proof more than the features you’ll brag that it is green!
  • Avoid Being Tagged of Green Washing. With green buildings come the closely associated term of green washing, This term refers to labeling the building green when in fact it is not. It is a direct manifestation of lying to clients. When proven, it can bring headache to the owner and property manager. But when you’re green-certified, you are instantly get rid of this tag and won’t be labeled as such because you have proof.

Benefits Of Going Green In Real Estate

There are a number of reasons why you should go green. A green lifestyle is not only good for you but also for the environment. Moreover, making eco-friendly changes in one’s life is not as costly as many people believe. For instance, walking instead of driving whenever possible is an easy green lifestyle alteration that does not cost anything, but still helps in saving the environment. Some of the most important benefits of going green are listed below –

* Home value – The value of your home would increase, if you consider using sustainable and eco-friendly materials in your house. For example, water saving toilets and solar panels can save you a lot of money on the utility bills.

* Water bills – Using appliances with energy star ratings can help you save a lot of water and cut back on your monthly water bills. The newer low flush toilets are also highly efficient and use lesser amount of water.

* Energy bills – If more and more buildings are updated with energy saving green units for water and electricity, then people would apparently consume lesser energy annually. By making such upgrades, you can also enjoy deductions and refunds on the taxes by the government.

* Durability – Eco friendly homes tend to last longer, as compared to traditional homes. Moreover, green homes do not really need painting or treating for the outdoor projects, such as decks.

* Less toxicity – Materials that are toxic in nature come out of cleaners and paints that have volatile organic compounds in them. Green or eco-friendly houses do not support the use of such materials and thus, have a good indoor air quality.

* Less waste – By building or renovating a home, using green products, the waste can be significantly reduced, as eco-friendly products are recyclable.

* Adaptability – Green homes last for more number of years, in comparison to traditional homes. Many eco-friendly houses incorporate big open areas, which are easy and simple to rearrange and remodel.

* Preserve the surroundings – Green homes have the least footprint on the surroundings and thus, work towards safeguarding the nature.

* Conserve the natural resources – The green building practices focus on conserving the natural resources by supporting the use of recycled materials, rather than new trees.

* Affordability – Majority of the green building materials and products available in the market are available at more affordable rates, than the traditional materials. Moreover, the green alterations that you make in your life also help you save a great deal of money.

To summarize, going green offers a lot of benefits and thus, it is important for each one of us to support the “green movement” and lead an environment friendly life. By going green, you would not only be able to have a better health and improved lifestyle, but also save a great deal of money. Above all, you would be able to play a significant role in protecting Mother Nature.