The hottest trend in today’s home construction industry is that of building green homes. Such homes are designed and manufactured with three environmental factors in prime consideration:
- Reduction in operating costs over the lifetime of the building
- Improvement of the health of the building’s occupants
- Reduced negative impact on the environment
To meet the first standard when constructing green homes, architects and engineers work together to design homes that will function as smoothly and effortlessly as we have become accustomed to but that do so at reduced cost to the homeowner and the environment.
Some energy-reducing tactics include situating green homes so they have lots of windows on the southern exposure. The southern side of any home usually receives the most sunlight, and its warmth, so lighting and heating costs can be minimized.
To improve the health of the occupants, green homes use the absolute minimum of toxic materials. Many of these homes do not have wall-to-wall carpeting, which emits toxic fumes as it ages and it collects allergens over time, too.
Insulation treated with formaldehyde is omitted in lieu of insulation made from recycled denim treated with boric acid to control insect infestations. Paints made from milk and other organic bases are used instead of the more traditional toxic paints.
Reducing the negative impact on the environment when building green homes is accomplished in many ways, too. One very effective measure is to purchase building materials from sources as close to the construction site as possible. Better still is to gather building materials, such as rocks, from the natural environment surrounding the building site and to recycle into building materials any trees that were cut down to clear the site.
Recycling greywater for outdoor watering needs is an excellent way to minimize the environmental impact in green homes. Greywater is the water drained from household appliances, such as washing machines and dishwashers, and from the bathtubs, sinks, and lavatories in the home. This water is excellent for watering lawns and washing automobiles while not drawing from the public water supply, especially in times of drought.
Green homes cost a little more money to build than a more traditional home. The added expense comes with specialized design and engineering costs and because some of the materials used in construction aren’t yet as readily available or produced in mass as other materials are.
Once green homes are completed, however, their minimal operating costs reduce monthly utility expenses from the very beginning. Over time, this savings in energy and utilities can be expected to more than pay for the added initial building costs.