What Is the Selection Criteria For Green Building Materials

The concept of a green home doesn’t rely solely on how a homeowner implements ways to make it more eco-friendly. Its whole concept covers sustainability of green building materials from planning, construction, and all the way when occupants are dwelling. You may want them on your house, but the availability of many green construction materials makes the selection process quite difficult. Here are the basic selection criteria to guide you when choosing green home building materials.

Resource efficiency

Resource efficiency is best explained when construction materials used are of known recycled contents. Natural resources like forests are conserved because fewer raw materials like wood are needed. The purchase of recycled construction materials is also a great step in reducing the energy consumption required during the manufacturing stages.

To maximize the resource efficiency of materials for use in construction, ensure that you are purchasing from nearby local manufacturers. This will also help reduce greenhouse emissions associated with the transport of materials from manufacturer to construction site.

Apart from using construction materials with recycled content, you can also make use of salvaged materials from nearby junk yards. There are also hardware stores that supply second hand construction materials. It can save you money while helping reduce garbage accumulation because the materials are saved from being totally junked.

Contributes to improved indoor air quality

Green building materials should be contributors to improved air quality inside the house. This means that they should pass standardized tests to prove they are nontoxic. Materials like paint should have reduced emissions of VOCs (volatile organic compounds). They should be health-friendly particularly to the respiratory system. Look for wall, roof, and other building materials that are less-resistant or fully resistant to moisture. These materials have the highest capacity to prevent the growth of biological contaminants. They can lessen the chances of mold and mildew growth inside the house.

Helps in water conservation

Earth’s water supply is said to be depleted fast if we will not conserve water properly. In fact, there are nations around the world which are already experiencing the effects of water wastage. Your choice of green building materials should help in water conservation efforts. The fixtures you should use in the kitchen, bathroom, comfort room, and laundry area should all have the WaterSense label by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With this label in your faucets, flush, and showerheads – you are very sure that you are indeed conserving thousands of gallons throughout the lifetime of each fixture.

Green building materials help protect the nature. But they also establish appealing overall aesthetics of a green home. A refreshing and beautiful house is the true key to a comfortable living enjoyed by all family members!

Bellevue Builds it Green

Resting in the shadow of Seattle, Bellevue redefines what it means to be environmentally friendly. From establishing green policies and regulations surpassing that of most American cities to adopting a green approach toward community expansion, Bellevue is an ideal location for environmentally-sound development projects.

Bellevue is home to more than 145 Fortune 500 companies, with Microsoft and Expedia headquartered in the city. Many of the region’s high powered executives live in the community and have invested in the civic, cultural, and political infrastructure to enhance Bellevue’s quality of life.

Recently named by Fortune Small Business magazine as the “best place in the nation to live and launch a business”, there is a passion for the growth and a deep community dedication to environmental action and upkeep.

There are a number of both infill and brownfield development opportunities in Bellevue, many of which are in the downtown area. These parcels are generally comprised of former gas stations and retail space that has reached the end of its economic life. In addition, their location along and near Main Street, make them prime candidates for mixed-use retail-residential developments, in which the ground floor would consist of a commercial retailer and the top floors are occupied by residential housing.

While these are not high-end development plays that would likely attract retailers such as drug stores and grocers, they are ideal for the growing population of young professionals looking for just the right location in the center of Bellevue.

The City of Bellevue is also committed to “green” construction as evidenced by its outreach programs to local builders. The uniqueness of Bellevue is its ability to cater to smaller builders, working with the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and its LEED designation to design programs to encourage brownfield development. As a result, establishing green building standards is often looked upon as a prerequisite to breaking ground in Bellevue and the State and City have placed a high priority on empowering smaller, environmentally aware builders, to take on green projects in Bellevue.

While higher development costs and premiums to meet Bellevue’s stringent environmental standards have created a barrier to entry for some developers, the advantages to building in the city are vast. The financial stability, community commitment and long-term viability of the city make the delivery of green sound projects in Bellevue an ideal opportunity in any market climate.

Green Home Building Trends For 2010

Although the building industry had a dark year in 2009, Green building seemed to somehow stick out and shine. According to the Multiple Listing Service date, certified sustainable green new homes actually rose the past year in the northern west coast areas like Portland and Seattle. This trend is believed to spread over the U.S. and green building is expected to grow within new home sales. Already new home sales are on a rise from a year ago with March of 2010 seeing the biggest jump in new home sales in 47 years. So what trends can we expect to see in 2010 in green new homes?

1. Energy Monitoring Home Dashboards. The increasing demand for energy efficient homes, the development of a custom web-based display panel within the home, will show real-time home energy use. This sophisticated produced can break down the real time energy use of homeowners appliances, which will help a homeowner change the way they use their electricity. For example the way an electric car miles per gallon indicator encourages the owner to adapt their driving habits, new homes that offer these Dashboards may encourage homeowners to reach lower energy use. Dashboards will also increase the probability that homeowners of green homes will reach the Energy Performance Score.

2. Energy Efficient Green Home Labeling. Like the miles per gallon label you would find when searching for a new car, energy rating systems for new homes has become popular among legislators. This energy rating system will make it easier for home buyers to see the energy efficiency of one green home compared to another. Each homes score will be available on the MLS.

3. Lenders and Green Homes Make for a Better Bottom Line. Lenders have come to the conclusion that green new homes are better for their bottom line. By seeing a trend of green home owners being more responsible and less probable to default on a loan, due to the fact that most green home owners are more accountable and likely to place higher value on home maintenance. Home owners are also less likely to default due to the decrease in energy coast within their green home. Lenders are now working to get reduced-rate loans and insurance packages for green new home owners.

4. Less Is More. Back when the housing market was booming, a larger homes lead to greater equity. However since that “bubble burst” this is no longer the case. With energy prices expected to rise over time, and the Federal Reserve likely to raise interest rates during 2010, home buyers are likely to feel more at ease with smaller new homes.

5. Water Conservation. Did you know that residential water usage accumulates for more than half of the public water supplied? The EPA decided in December 2009 to implement WaterSense. WaterSense specifies that new homes will need to reduce water use by 20 percent than conventional new home. Mandatory energy labeling in Europe already documents the water efficiency.

6. Net Zero Homes. A net zero home is a green home that generates more energy than it uses over a year. This is done by building a fairly small new home that is extremely energy efficient and uses on site renewable energy like wind, solar or geo-exchange systems.

Beat The Rising Energy Costs With Green Building Trends

Green building trends are becoming increasingly popular among builders, architects and homeowners with every passing year. With growing environmental awareness, more and more people want recycled and sustainable materials to be incorporated in renovation or construction of their houses. They also favor homes which use design and construction techniques developed to improve the indoor air quality and energy efficiency of the house. Apart from enabling the homeowners to feel great about reducing their carbon footprint, eco-friendly building techniques also provide them lifelong savings on the utility bills.

A green home does not need to be like a geodesic dome or a yurt, like the eco-houses that were built a few decades ago. The idea behind building green homes is to save energy. So, it does not matter what size, style or design you opt for, as long as the house is energy-efficient. All types of green buildings have low cooling and heating costs, as they incorporate the principles of solar designs. Today, green building has emerged as a budding segment of home renovation and construction market. This is the reason why, nowadays, you can find numerous vendors exhibiting eco-friendly building services and products.

Nearly all architecture firms specialize in green or sustainable building designs and offer products, like energy-efficient appliances, recycled plastic roof shingles and many more. These companies can offer great help to families that are struggling financially, by helping them lower their rising energy bills. In fact, real estate agents too feel that eco-friendly architecture components act as an added benefit for their property listings. This is because in the current relaxed residential property market home buyers often get more selective while choosing a house. The long-term savings of green houses therefore make for a tempting property package. This also means green homes sell faster than traditional houses and also, at a better price.

Besides, banks and other financial institutions are also realizing the great investment value of green construction. So, you would also see many of them offering more encouraging terms for loan to customers, wanting to borrow money for buying green homes. All these factors are responsible for the increasing popularity of green building trends. Just as people are turning away from the vehicles consuming high amount of fuel and opting for the ones that are fuel-efficient, they are hesitating to live in the traditionally designed homes.

Today, skyrocketing utility bills is a big concern for every homeowner. Thus, buying a green house or making green renovations in the current house is a great way to beat the rising energy costs. To make the most of green building trends, you can look for a capable green architect, builder or constructor, who can help you build or design an eco-friendly house. Apart from proffering financial benefits, green living can also give you numerous health benefits. For instance, improved indoor air quality significantly reduces the risk of many respiratory diseases.

Will Buyers Go Green in Austin, Texas?

In the city of Austin a new energy ordinance will require that homeowners have an energy efficiency audit done prior to selling their home. The audit report must be disclosed to the buyer of their home. Energy audit and disclosure will become a part of the home purchase process in mid 2009.

In Austin’s hot climate energy performance has a lot to do with how efficiently the central AC system works. We are more concerned about cooling than heating, but both systems are used throughout the year. The new law aims to upgrade the energy performance of older homes in these critical areas:

Finding leaks and closing gaps in AC ducts. (Ducts can have 10% – 30% leakage!)

Improving the insulation in the attic to help retain conditioned air.

Keeping the hot sun out with solar screens on windows.

Reducing the loss of conditioned air through cracks in doorways and windows.

After some resistance by homeowners and groups, the law stopped short of making energy upgrades mandatory in order to sell a home. In today’s market, it does not make sense to add difficulty or cost to the sale process. So, the law was pared back to just require that sellers have an energy audit, and disclose the results to potential buyers.

Will buyers demand that the home they buy pass muster in terms of energy efficiency? The market will have to sort this out. I think that, over time, they probably will. Sellers will anticipate this by taking steps to correct the wasteful loss of energy in their home. Most sellers would like to have a positive report to show prospective buyers. They will want to have a clean bill of health. And, we must admit, the items required for testing are really fundamental.

They are so fundamental that they are generally not noticed. These are not the green features that are ego satisfying or visually appealing. We don’t see them featured in Dwell Magazine. They are not as exciting as wind turbines, or solar panels, or rainwater catchment, or Icestone counters. These are things that most people would rather not think about. Like caulking and duct mastic. And, unglamorous dark screens and dusty old attic insulation. These are not the upgrades that cause buyers to say, “I love it.”

So they have never been top of mind concerns. Austin’s new energy audit law is going change all that. It will bring these behind-the-scenes basics into the limelight. Old houses will meet new tech. Homeowners will be able to improve the basic energy efficiency of homes. That will mean lower utility bills. And fewer carbon-spewing power plants. And, a greener Austin.

Custom Building a Green Home

Considering building a new custom home? Today’s new homes can easily incorporate green features that will not only make a difference in your comfort level but reduce the cost to operate – heating/cooling/electrical and water consumption. Good green construction techniques can also increase the longevity of your home by using techniques that minimize conditions that may damage your home.

These days, green home building is becoming more and more main stream. Custom builders and production builders now commonly incorporate green building techniques into their new homes.

So before you move the first shovel full of dirt consider some green building strategies. Here is a checklist of areas to research when considering a new home project:

1. Energy Efficiency

a) Low infiltration construction

b) Upgraded insulation systems

c) Properly size heat/ac systems

d) Framing & sheathing – size/insulation value

e) Lighting types for efficiency – CFL and/or LED

f) Optional Lighting Efficiencies – Dimmers

g) Select Energy Star appliances

2. Water Efficiency

a) High efficiency fixtures (toilet/shower heads)

b) High efficiency appliances

c) Engineered plumbing systems

3. Indoor Air Quality

a) Sealed air ducts

b) Properly size heat/ac systems

c) Combustion safety

d) Engineered air flow -fresh air & spot ventilation

e) Internal air pressure balancing

f) Internal humidity control

g) Low off gassing paint & products

h) Low off gassing carpets

4. Durability

a) Optimal engineered framing

b) Air & thermal barrier

c) Internal humidity management

d) Durable material selections – use of green building materials

e) Low maintenance building materials

See the Energy Star program for more information on energy efficient homes.

Going Green Is Not So Difficult After All

People, who are worried about the declining status of the earth, are constantly on the lookout for ways with which they can reduce the carbon footprint and the effect that they have on the environment. The main cause for the carbon footprint is the increasing dependence that one has on non-renewable sources of energy. However, to reduce this dependence there are a number of simple steps that one can take, such as driving a hybrid vehicle, using eco-friendly electric appliances and recycling and reusing, as much as possible. These steps are simple and have a great effect on the overall improvement of the condition of environment.

When it comes to home construction, there are also many ways with which you can benefit the environment. Many builders and homeowners are ready to spare no expense, when it comes to improving the look of their home. However, this can lead to wastage of a lot of materials. If builders begin to apply simple cost saving methods to their building technique, then a lot of benefits can be provided to the environment. These eco-friendly methods are simple to install and beneficial to use in the long run.

The heating of most homes is carried out by oil or gas. The past few years have seen a steady increase in the rate of such fuels and being non-renewable sources of energy, the price and need for such fuels can only increase in the near future. Shifting to alternative sources of energy, such as solar, wind and geothermal, can be a much better option. The good news is that such techniques need not be applied only by large corporations, but even small builders and homeowners can apply them and play their part in the protection of our planet.

Some of the reasons, why many people did not opt for such methods, were that people thought these eco-friendly systems to be very expensive and that they can only function in certain weather conditions. The truth is that these systems are only slightly expensive than their non eco-friendly counterparts and they tend to save you more money in the longer run with lesser electric bills. So, they provide individuals with longer term savings. Also, with the constant improvement in technology that we see around us every day, it is obvious that sooner or later cheaper alternatives will be discovered, which will make these systems affordable by everyone.

People, who have already built their own homes, might think that they do not have any option to make their homes greener. They need not worry, as already built homes can be remodeled in such a way that they can be added with extra features that will make them more eco-friendly. These days, people are getting more attracted to green innovations, as the options that are available to them are really good and also they are benefiting their environment. With better methods to save power available to us, we can do our part in saving the environment, without having to sacrifice too much at the same time.

Essential Green Factors for Real Estate – Turn Green Time for Real Estate

The factors to be considered by Construction / Real Estate firms to turn green are:

Energy Saving Electricity: – Solar Power

Moving away from first generation power usage techniques i.e. depending on Electricity generated by power plants which run on water / coal, present day Realty sectors could possibly adopt the technique of absorbing the power of Sun, otherwise named as Solar Power to generate electricity.

Solar power makes us to think of energy efficient techniques in constructing a home or gated community’s viz. quipping solar Facades in exteriors to absorb the energy of SUN, painting interiors with brighter colors to radiate more light with less power etc. The other useful power saving technique could make Realty firms in turning green is automatic power off system which helps in turning off unused electricity automatically.

Inserting solar panels, solar equipped glass facades, solar powered water heaters & illuminating systems and using energy efficient paints at interiors could really help Realty firms in turning attentive to Green Earth Revolution by reducing usage of power and coal generated electricity.

Water Storage: – Rainwater harvesting tank

Water shortage, the popularized household problem these days is the major concern for Realty builders. Against drilling down 1000 to infinite feet down the ground for water and settling with non-resulted trials, some Real Estate firms have dusted the age old technique of storing water through tanks to tap the requirement of daily necessity – WATER. With the increase in demand for water and less adequate resources to fulfill it, apartment builders adopted the Rainwater Harvesting System which possibly can resolve the water problem restricted to certain qualitative measures.

Rainwater Harvest tank is a specially paved area on the rooftop / in the courtyard of a building to store rainwater or sometimes even a gutter in the garden would help to be a water harvesting tank. Heightening these kind of water storage techniques, builders could give uninterrupted water facility to dwellers though it depends on water sources i.e. rainfall in that particular area. With the minimal concerns for clean and safety water, builders can effectively use this technique to address water related problems especially without depending on ground water levels.

Plastic Usage:- High toxic levels

Matching up with the global uproar against plastic usage and to be in the path against global warming, ‘plastic-free environments’ are rapidly dotting up the cities like never before. Plastic the excessive use of which may contaminate under ground water due to its very slow decomposition levels compared to other materials can harm the marine population and is severely hazardous for drinking water. Disposal of plastics either into water or on ground should be avoided cause of the high toxicity it has in using and by manufacturing them.

Hence, in the course to turn towards greener earth, real estate firms have the need to build their gated communities or any other form of group housing insisting on absolutely ‘Plastic – Free’ environments. Indeed, attaining plastic free environment certificate will also be beneficial in escalating flat or plot sales, is also a major factor for real estate firms to turn green.

Plantation: – Air Purification

‘How about residing amid greenery? Wake up and say good morning to 75000 Tulips’; these were the catch-up lines pitched by some of the Realty firms in recent times at Hyderabad. Having heard of the same intentional messages for numerous times, it’s been proved that Real Estate has lent its hand / land to sufficient plantation required for healthy life.

More plantations in the vicinities makes the area protected from pollution thus leads to air purification which of a great concern in giving a quality living style. Against deforestation and concrete landscapes, turning to green panoramic landscapes would fetch Realty industries to cope up with the increase in need of life style away from regular hustle – bustle with more fresh and quality breath.

Waste Management Techniques: – Landfills

Probably, the foremost hectic task confronts by contemporary construction world is managing the waste. Maintaining Garbage dumping yard popularly known as landfills, has been a difficult task for present day apartment builders as the vicinities are dotted up with concrete blocks not allowing space.

In this scenario, allotting a special slot outside / inside the row housing for garbage dump is definitely a valuable idea. It creates opportunity to be hygienic and indeed can helpful in producing bio fuel. Adding to it, with the help of Plasma we can even turn garbage into Gas which is another advantage of using dumping yard or landfills. Instead of spewing up the garbage into neighborhoods and leaving the environment more unhygienic, dumping yards are of more useful methods for Realty firms in tapping the turn of green revolution.

In this way, Realty Firms can effectively turn green by following above stringent factors.

On an ending note, though the methods like solar systems and dumping yard maintenance demands more practicality, with the little care Real Estate firms can turn to greener phase easily.

6 Green House Considerations

Because of the many environmental concerns, threats and considerations, many buyers, as well as homeowners, today, have become more – and – more concerned with various factors, often referred to as green real estate. There are many considerations, and variations, as well as degrees of greening individuals are interested in. Some (however a minority) are real environmentalists, and want their home, to exhibit their concern and attention, to this very important issue. Others merely want to proceed in a somewhat balanced manner, and want to include reasonable green characteristics. This article will be a basic one, and discuss, in general terms, 6 considerations, regarding making your home, a greener one.

1. Windows and doors: Obviously, energy conservation is a major environmental concern. We often speak about a business’ carbon footprint, but, obviously, certain houses are far more energy – efficient than others. When were your windows replaced and/ or upgraded, and are they efficient? Do they keep out most of the cold, in the winter, and minimize the amount of heat, which enters in the hottest weather? What materials are your windows and doors, made of? Do your doors leak? Begin by having someone do an energy inspection, and see if you are losing much heat, because of inefficiencies. Doors can often be made more efficient, by having them re – hung, and putting a properly installed, sweep, on the bottom of the door. How much money, and energy are you wasting?

2. Solar, geo – thermal, etc: Some houses are candidates for solar panels, while others are not! What direction does your roof face? Are there any large trees blocking your roof? How many hours a day, of sun, does your roof, experience? Have you had your home examined, to discover whether you might be a good candidate for geo – thermal? This often requires a combination and evaluation of your property, pitch, location, and layout.

3. Energy – efficient burners/ boilers, and air conditioners: When was the last energy efficiency evaluation, you had performed? How old is your burner/ boiler, and is it efficient? What type of air conditioning do you use, and what it the Energy Efficiency Rating?

4. Roof: Light – colored roofs reflect heat, while darker ones, absorb it. Therefore, doesn’t it make sense, that warmer climates should use lighter ones, and colder ones, darker? What is the material being used? Is it efficient, effective and safe? How old is the roof?

5. Insulation: What is the rating of your insulation, and how well insulated, is the house? Have the walls (especially outside ones) checked, for efficiency? Older houses tend not to have updated insulation, or may contain less than the safest materials. An ounce of prevention, makes lots of sense!

6. Materials: Are you using safe, sustainable materials, in your house? This is generally more relevant, in newer houses, or extensions, but if you are concerned with the environment, you should consider the sustainability, safety and impacts of your home!

There are numerous environmental considerations. Whether you are truly committed to the environment, or merely want to be responsible, and save money (and be safer), it makes sense to think green!

Focus on Green Homes – Landscaping to Save Energy

Landscaping a home in green manner is an important part of planning and building your green home. Landscaping consumes a lot of water and maintaining your yard can produce a large amount of carbon monoxide. Green landscaping means selecting plants that reduce the amount of water used to keep them alive.

For the lawn, plant grass that grows very slowly and requires very little water to survive. By planting this type of grass, your lawn would not need to be mowed every week, but maybe only a few times a summer, reducing the amount of exhaust from your mowing activities. Also since water bills are usually calculated by consumption, the less water the yard requires, the lower the water bill.

For the plants and bushes around the home, select hardy plants. Hardy plants are less susceptible to diseases and damaging pests, allowing you to forego or eliminate pesticides and fertilizers. The less of these chemicals that are used the better it is for the environment, reducing the amount of chemicals that run-off of plants during a rainstorm and soak into the ground. This type of run-off of pesticides and fertilizers has the potential to contaminate ground water and drinking water.

Another major consideration with green landscaping is the heat island effect. The heat island effect is heat from the home, from man-made surfaces around the home, and from the lack of appropriate landscaping. The combined heat from these sources can increase the temperature in a community noticeably. Heat islands can cause increased use of air conditioning, increased air pollution and greenhouse gas production, and lower water quality.

For your green home, this effect can make your heating and cooling systems less effective. The right types of landscaping can help prevent the heat island effect. For example, planting our hardy trees, shrubs and plants at least 24 inches away from the house can break up the heat transfer mechanism. In addition, planting deciduous trees on the west side of your green home or along driveways and walkways can be very effective for cooling the house and yard. Plan ahead, though. Trees and bushes growth over time can interfere with the effectiveness of any solar panels that are installed.

When planning your landscaping, plan to install a rain barrel as well. Why not store some of the run-off rainwater for eco-friendly, free water for watering the lawn, plants, scrubs, and trees? In addition to a rain barrel, the ground can be shaped to direct water coming from the roof and the ground during a rainstorm to collect around the plants, shrubs, and trees in the yard. This allows the earth to do your work for you. As the water from the storm drains into the ground, the last part of the ground to dry out is the part of the lawn that received the most water, reducing the amount of tap water needed.

By taking the extra time to address these issues during the design of your green home, you can achieve a beautiful, very low maintenance and environmental-friendly landscaped yard.