Everything is going green from cars to clothes to what we eat and where we vacation. Green buildings are the next step in the crusade for the environment and are no longer restricted to private homes or eccentric designers.
Going green has several benefits for the building owners and for the environment. The only downside for many is construction cost since eco friendly building materials do tend to be slightly more expensive than traditional materials. Most are fine with the increase in prices since it will pay off in the long run with reductions in the price of utilities.
Going green is becoming very popular with over 50,000 such homes being constructed in just the past decade alone. Whole communities devoted to being ecologically friendly are springing up and even professional buildings are joining the cause. At this rate, many experts believe that a majority of new homes and buildings will soon be all green with older structures being converted in an effort to reduce energy costs and consumption.
There are a large number of materials available on the market today that can be used in the construction of environmentally friendly buildings. From the outside, to the inside, savvy builders are implementing new technology and reused materials in a way that benefits the environment. In fact, many cities and states are looking into implementing guidelines requiring new buildings to be more eco-friendly.
There are many companies offering green building materials for the exterior and interior. Before beginning construction it is important to consider a few key points that will help determine what type of eco friendly materials should be used in construction.
With the variety of construction materials some of the materials will not be suitable in every environment. Builders have to take into consideration what it will take to heat and cool buildings during the winter and summer months when energy consumption for homes and offices are higher. If the materials used make it more difficult to keep the home cool then it will still be damaging to the environment even if the material is eco-friendly in itself.
The importance of recycled materials is worth repeating. There are several building materials on the market that are created using recycled content. Concrete, pipes, carpet, all have recycled counterparts. By buying recycled goods, the consumer is helping complete the cycle that reduces landfill waste and strains on the environment.
Of course, it is wise to purchase eco-friendly materials locally when possible. Most do not take transportation cost into consideration when ordering construction materials. Purchasing local materials will cut down the effects of transportation such as gas usage and harmful emissions.
So, what are some specific benefits of building green? These vary in several fields but all have an overreaching benefit. With the reduction of waste and harmful effects that buildings have on the environment, it will improve the quality of life.
Building a green home or building will aid in improving air and water quality which is becoming a major concern for communities the world over. By using recycled materials, these green buildings will help to conserve natural resources that are being rapidly depleted. The overall operating costs of green buildings have proven to be cheaper in the long run then traditional buildings. As more green buildings sprout up, the demand for them grows creating a very healthy trend that is pretty much guaranteed to continue throughout the years.
Green building has started to become a household and industry word here in Orlando, Florida and elsewhere! People are accepting that it is not only here to stay . . . but it is the way of the future!
Yes, the same green movement that has spurred our schools to discourage brown paper lunch bags, and encourage motorists to trade in their gas guzzling SUV’s for a hybrid has now crept into the housing market as a growing number of builders construct environmentally responsible homes. State and local governments are now offering incentives to help promote the use of eco-friendly materials and methods in green residential building.
A widely accepted definition for a green building is: A building that is sited, designed, constructed and operated to enhance and improve the well being and quality of life of occupants and to minimize negative impacts on the community and natural environment.
Here are just a few innovative ways to build greener homes:
* Install Energy Star efficient appliances
* Use low VOC house paint
* Use recycled content materials
* Use rapidly renewable products such as bamboo flooring
* Install engineered wood
* Landscape with low water drought tolerant plants to minimize irrigation use
* Install energy and water efficient irrigation systems
* Install green seal certified windows and doors
* Foam insulation which can save up to 50% on energy bills
* Solar water heaters
* Compact fluorescent lighting
* Computer controlled vents that pull in fresh air
Though it can take a little more work and research on the part of the builder and homeowner because of all of the new products and technology that is now available, the pay off can be huge. A green building will:
* Provide a healthier and more comfortable environment
* Improve long term economic performance
* Reduce construction and demolition waste
* Bring a higher resale value
* Improve indoor air quality
* Reduce environmental impact
* Are easier to maintain and are built to last
The U.S Green Building Council is a nonprofit organization working very hard to promote environmentally responsible building practices. They are composed of more than 12,000 organizations from across the building industry. Members include building owners and end users, real estate developers, facility managers, architects, designers, engineers, general contractors, subcontractors, building product manufacturers, and government agencies. For more information about this organization you can go to: http://www.usgbc.org. This is just one of many nonprofit agencies that are committed to promoting green building practices for a healthier, more energy efficient environment.
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:
- Solar sign lights for entrance signs and public buildings.
- Solar-powered security lights to automatically light common areas as people approach.
- Deck lights for use around pool, patio and tennis areas.
- 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!