What Makes a Home Green?

Many are promoting green living. This is due to the destruction that Mother Nature is undergoing. We may not know it but simple activities at home can contribute to the deterioration of our environment. The movement to go green has been repeatedly promoted. But what makes a home green? And why is it important to support such movement?

A green home does not literally mean having green walls and gate. It simply means that your home was built using eco-friendly materials. The primary objective of building a green home is to uphold what is good for the environment by choosing the right materials and the right manner of home building.

This does not stop in the building of the property as it continues to the other items in the house. This continues to the choices of devices and appliances used by the property owners. So what else are the characteristics of a green home? First and foremost, a green home is a property that utilizes less energy. In addition to that, it also utilizes less water and natural resources and most importantly, it discharges fewer waste, making it a healthier place for its occupants.

How will you achieve a green home?

It is about time to have a green home, but how will you achieve that? Here are some ways to do that:

1. Replace your old appliances with a more eco-friendly devices. The old appliances use up more energy. If you change it with a more energy efficient device, you can save up more in your energy consumption. Such appliances include refrigerator and air conditioning unit.

2. Mind your heating and cooling expenses. This is normally among the biggest energy consumers. During the winter, heating expenses are high, while cooling expenses skyrocket during the summer. There are different ways to deal with this. One is to improve the insulation of your home. Attend to the drafts of your property as well.

3. You should also be mindful of your water consumption. There are simple ways to save water. You can use low-flow toilet, use glass when brushing and repair the leaks or drippings right away.

4. Use energy efficient light as well. In fact, you can also use devices that allow you to benefit from the natural light. You can also make adjustments in your window, to let the natural light in. Moreover, there are bulbs that produce brighter light while consuming less energy. These bulbs do not emit a lot of heat as well. They last longer too.

5. Make sure that you choose products that are environmentally friendly. Check the labels of the cleaners you pick. They may contain toxic materials that can put you at risk. Choose cleaners that are eco-friendly.

You can apply various ways to make your home greener. Other examples include planting trees and growing an organic garden. The use of organic product can also help you achieve a greener home. Although these are simple ways, it can greatly help improve the condition of our environment.

Helpful Tips on Switching to Energy-Efficient Appliances for the Home

Nowadays, because green living is the in thing, you have to promote eco-friendly type of lifestyle. One great way to start with is by converting your old electronics into energy-saving gadgets. This is simply because it helps a lot in maximizing your budget when in terms of bill payments.

In addition to that, there are researches and reports that say when you use energy at home, this can cause more pollution that using the car. This is simply because plants that burn fossils can produce energy that you can use at hoe. Bear in mind that the air pollution can help worsen the global warming. The very effective way for every home to cut off air pollution is by using energy-saving appliances.

When you buy home appliances and other electronic gadgets, be sure that they have the Energy Star rating. If you see more star ratings, the higher energy-saving features it has. Thus, if you have plans of shopping for new appliances at home, consider some of these steps in looking for the right model.

You have to know your purpose for buying such device. Determine if you really need it and how much is your budget. From here, you can easily trim down your choices. Of course, you would pick those with energy-saving features. Having these features will justify your investment for such unit.

As soon as you have identified them, you can now determine the cost for maintaining the appliance. Sometimes the price can be cheaper but the cost for maintaining can go high. You also have to consider this aspect.

You can now do the canvass for possible brands. Go into every feature of the product. Compare the prices as well as the performance. You can try it so you will know its condition and how to use it. Ask the salesman to demonstrate and explain the features especially its energy-saving part. Remember that your goal is to buy energy-efficient unit so it should have this specification.

The last one would be to look into the yellow and black energy guide label. This will show you the amount of electricity to be consumed by the unit every year. Before you buy, be sure to compare the efficiency of the item and other brands. There are brands that offer cash discounts as additional marketing for their products.

Buying energy-saving appliances for your home is a form of investment. Although they come a bit pricey but you are assured of the long term benefits such as huge savings on electricity bill. Do not hesitate to shell out your money since you will be getting a lot of savings later on. So find a good brand of appliances that can help you save money and energy consumption.

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.

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.

Green Home Designs – What Not to Do

Green home designs are actually what you would refer to as environmentally friendly homes because it makes use of eco-friendly and reusable materials. These homes lean towards renewable and longer lasting materials.

Green materials include those that are saved or restored in an existing structure. There are many available options today. Using materials that contain volatile organic compounds or VOC’s when painting, refinishing, or stenciling is avoided.

Green homes of today incorporate the use of bamboo, eucalyptus and cork because these are sustainable and renewable, with special mention to cork because the extraction of cork causes no damage to trees whatsoever when properly done. It is best to choose wood that have the authentication or certification of environmental groups.

When installing the home flooring, the use of non-toxic and low to no VOC sealants is recommended. Also consider non-toxic finishes, polishes, cleaners, refinishing and adhesive products. Keeping with the green home design allows for better indoor quality because the new home emits less toxins and becomes a more conducive and healthier place to live in. Although even after opting for non-toxic materials, there is still no guarantee for 100% good health and safety because other toxic chemicals are encountered on a daily basis. But the whole concept of building a green home is to ensure that no contribution is made to the further degradation of the planet and to provide a safer abode for the family at the end of the day.

Creating a green home keeps this in mind. It is also recommended that many glass windows and doors are included in the designs as well as to the roofs and walls to allow natural light enter the home. Skylights, aside from conserving energy consumption in the home is a good way to ensure that moisture does not accumulate in a room.

When designing the kitchen, try to incorporate the use of concrete counter tops. It will add a modern look to the area. Vetrrazzo is a type of recycled glass and is also a common green counter top choice. Recycled glass comes in various colors and gives a very attractive touch to the kitchen. Aside from counter tops, it can also be used as a backsplash. Another exquisite alternative would be recycled glass tiles.

When choosing appliances on the other hand, a few considerations to be made are the energy efficiency, functionality, style and of course, the budget. Go for the most energy efficient appliances when buying new ones. Recycling old appliances may also be done. Local recycling departments are sure to give sound advice on what can be done to recycle them.

Consumers should be wary about merely sending their old appliances to a landfill. A refrigerator for example has about 95% of its parts that are recyclable. Old kitchen appliances are not as energy efficient and will in effect cost a considerable amount of money over time. As much as possible, it is recommended that all old kitchen appliances be recycled.

In line with the green design is also to design green insulation or to use eco-friendly insulation materials. Green home designs make use of a lot of ceiling and wall insulation in the entire home. It is best to choose recycled denim or cotton insulation that is made from recycled blue jeans. Wool is also a good type to use and so is Icynene, a water blown spray in foam. New materials such as the aerogel, is made from silica to form frozen silica smoke or an ultra porous silica form that is about 99% air which makes it unbelievably light but incredibly strong and an effective insulator.

Aside from helping the environment, opting for a green home design can prove to be very economical in the long run. Because beyond the initial investment, it is the savings over time due to more energy efficient appliances and the reduction to the exposure to harmful chemicals that make it worthwhile.

Living Inside a Shipping Container Home

Remember, when you were younger and loved to build pretend homes and forts? As an adult the Container architecture is growing because there hundreds of thousands of shipping containers in places all over the world. Usually in docking ports and stacks of shipping containers are piled up wasting away to literally nothing. Some very ingenious architects and builders are recycling these containers and designing homes and low income apartments out of them worldwide.

Shipping container homes are very affordable, transportable and stackable and able to survive the worst weather conditions mother nature has for us. They are structurally built to withstand almost anything and in abundant supply almost in every country today.

Containerization is best defined as the use of steel boxes that can be filled with literally any product and loaded onto a truck or train. If you are concerned about these running out, no need to worry because there are infinite containers to go around. Tens of thousands of these hit American shores each and every day of the year, as well as almost every other country.

Lets understand something here. The prices of homes today has sky rocketed to the heavens. As time goes on, more and more people can not afford a typical living environment. Struggling with mortgages and taxes to pay off their house, why not look into a shipping container as a home for yourself?

Not only are they cheaper but they last much longer than an average house today built with the same materials they have been building with.

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.

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.

Choosing the Best Green Home Builder

Today many people are “going green”, which means that they are becoming environmentally friendly in how they live their lives and minimizing the harm done to the earth. When some people decide to build their home from the bottom up, they decide to have a green home builder build their home. This contractor would build their home with low environmental and energy efficiency in mind. To find a green home builder you should talk to the contractors in your area. Some that will travel to your area to build your home but their services will add more expense to the cost of your home.

To ensure that you will have the best green home builder ask them what type of building material they will use. You should also inquire about their disposal methods to make sure they are in compliant with sustainability practices. The materials that they should use are non-toxic when possible, and environmentally friendly. They should also be materials that come from renewable sources, or sustainable material. This can include materials from homes that have been knocked down. This material can include old doors, cabinets, some of the wood to accent the home such as using the material for ceiling beams, and more. They should try to avoid using plastics and choose their wood carefully. You should ask to see examples of the green projects they have completed. Their construction philosophy should focus on green building. It should not just focus on using green techniques as a secondary technique. Make sure that the contract you sign states that it will be constructed from sustainable and green material.

A home builder may tell you that they are using green building techniques but it could be easy for them to start using less environmentally friendly techniques and designs to save money on materials so they can put more money in their pockets. This is why you need to be sure that they are a reputable home builder and have good references as a green construction company. They need to be knowledgeable about green techniques and processes and committed to green construction and design. If you want your new green custom built home to be built using unconventional techniques make sure the home builder can demonstrate they understand the techniques you want and can do them correctly.

Before you choose a green home builder, you should educate yourself on what constitutes a green home and the process to build one. This will help you to determine a good green home builder and to know if they are cutting corners using non-environmentally friendly material. Having a green home can save you money on heating and cooling costs, and if sustainable material is used it can save these materials from being disposed of improperly.

Green Building – Sustainable Materials For Home Construction

There are prominent issues in the contemporary society especially those that tackle the massive impact of things in the environment. In the real estate industry, preferring technologies and systems that cater to the preservation of the environment is becoming a trend. One of the concerns prevalent today is on the use of sustainable materials for home construction.

There are innumerable criteria you can actually consider when talking about sustainable materials and how such items are qualified under this category.

One of the main properties that sustainable and green buildings must be eligible with is its less environment impact. Since such real property entities account for many effects on the use of land, water and energy consumption as well as the alteration in the air and the atmosphere, buildings must primarily reduce its consumption of natural resources which are slowly depleting and eliminated without chances of renewal.

Sustainable materials are the ones that are recycled and reused in order to build or renovate homes and buildings. This way, you are not contributing to the exhaustion of the natural resources in order to answer the demands for new materials and items to use for construction and renovation of your property. There are numerous industries in the world of real estate that cater to the notion of recycling and refurbishing materials instead of producing new ones for constructing new properties or improving old ones.

In general, bear in mind that the process of building construction is definitely producing a lot of wastes. Hence, the materials that are recycled and reused must have the ability to reincorporate whatever scraps or wastes are made and remixed or reused it for other building construction purposes.

Another important criterion to consider is to look into the sustainability features of the material and to know if it is truly sustainable from the very moment it was harvested or gained as a raw material up to the time of its eventual disposal.

The material must have very minimal impact to the environment especially in terms of the waste, emission, energy consumption and its capacity to replenish itself in order not to deplete the resources taken from nature due to its production. The energy consumption especially in terms of the harvesting process of the material, its actual processing and the transportation required are all considerable qualities to tag a material that is truly not hazardous to nature.

There are different types of resources which are not recyclable however are still considered sustainable because these primarily have the capacity to highly replenish. Examples of such materials are straw, hay, bamboo, cork, adobe and clay among others. They are tagged with this kind of quality because they can quickly replenish and renew their quantity after they have been harvested. These materials also have low or very minimal rates on emission and are highly deemed for energy conservation.

Hence, if you want to build an eco-friendly and healthier property, you must consider using all natural materials which are sustainable and renewable in nature in every corner and foundation of your home.