For those who are planning to build a new house or do some major home remodeling, why not do such tasks the eco-friendly way?. The concepts of green building have taken a major foothold in the home building and construction industry.
Based on US Census figures, it was estimated that more than 1.3 million new homes were built in the United States in 2002, and remodelling and home improvement spending in 1996 amounted to $119 billion. Remodeling or constructing your home gives you a chance to help transform the marketplace towards a sustainability and environment-friendly one, and create living space that’s better for you and the environment.
Homes Have A Major Effect On The Environment
It’s a fact that homes affect the planet,from the use and depletion of natural resource, human health, to overall ecological integrity. Aside from basic health and safety measures mentioned in the building code, there’s no requirement to minimize these impacts. A new home construction or remodel would serve an opportunity in creating a symbolic and physical representation of your commitment to caring for the planet, health, and in a vital and engaged community.
Why It Pays To Find Architects Or Contractors Who Espouse Green Building Concepts
One you try looking for eco-friendly home building concepts and practices, you’ll be surprised to quickly find one once you tap into the local design community, that there are a number of firms that have gained stellar reputations for going green.
Upon closer observation, you’ll notice that within the general category of green, each firm or architect will have its strong points, as some focus on healthy building, while other concentrate on energy efficiency and/or renewable energy, and some apply their expertise on green materials, natural building techniques, or building modular homes. Look for a professional contractor that has extensive applied experience in building green, and will gladly apply these elements to your home project.
Choosing Green Architects And Home Contractors
- Check Out Their Previous Record For Demonstrated Experience.
First, do a thorough background check on an architect or contractor’s experience with green building. Find out if he or she can point to specific projects in their portfolio, and provide references as well. Aside from ensuring that the architect or contractor is licensed and bonded, ask if he or she is a member of green design organizations or has participated in any programs, and if the contractor follows construction practices that minimize pollution and protects indoor air quality and enhance worker health and safety as well.
- Ensure That A Contractor Practices What He Or She Professes.
Aska prospective home contractor or architect how he or she operates their business; like does he recycle in the office as well as on the job site? Find out if the green design elements evident,such as environmentally responsible materials and office supplies, energy efficient lighting, fixtures.
- Check If Green Concepts Are Incorporated Into the Contract Details
Architects have standard specifications that lays out the orders for everyone involved in building the house, down to how the paint is applied and what quality of materials are chosen for the cabinets. These specifications are generally customized by each company, and further modified for each project. These specs are a powerful tool in green building, while at the same time, are a legal document, and can be tedious to review sometimes. Ask an architect or contractor to give you an overview of the specifications for your project, and ensure that they cover all these.
There are three, interdependent challenges to Florida housing providers: a) Safety; b) Affordability; and c) Energy efficiency.
If we can’t find a way to address all three challenges at the same time, we’re likely to complicate solutions for two of them while we focus only on the third. For instance: We can make houses super-safe and super-energy-efficient while driving costs beyond the abilities of most folks to pay.
We can make houses cheap enough for most people to own by taking short cuts on safety and energy efficiency. But making homes that are safe and energy efficient and also within the reach of most citizens requires addressing the ways these challenges are connected.
Green building requires green community planning. As important as our innovative approach is, we can’t address the larger carbon footprint/climate change issues through housing technology alone – no more than we can address the problem through automobile technology alone.
Going Off The Grid
Creating off-the-grid, energy-efficient housing in “greenfield” suburbs and rural enclaves will still require each adult in the family to commute to separate daily needs in separate automobiles, canceling out many of the energy gains. Over the last 30 years, the number of miles
Americans drive has grown three times faster than the population and almost twice as fast vehicle registrations. Spread-out development-sprawl is the main reason for that.
Research suggests that people who move into compact, walk-able neighborhoods are making as big a contribution to fighting global warming as those who buy hybrid vehicles but remain tied to car-dependent lifestyles. We need to make living in more dense configurations appealing.
Practical Can’t Be Ugly
To succeed, green community planning needs housing alternatives that are not only practical-safe and energy efficient-but also beautiful. Neighbors have to be willing to welcome these new additions to their communities. Even if they can’t explain why, neighbors must instantly associate these new house designs with admired regional vernacular, and they must immediately sense quality in the choice of materials and construction approaches.
Affordable Can’t Be Cheap
The trouble is, quality design and construction costs more than inferior design and construction. Factory-built housing approaches can help deliver higher quality at manageable price points. But up until now, the manufactured home industry has focused on using systems building technology to reduce prices and not to raise design and construction quality. The result is factory-built housing’s image as the last resort for home ownership.
Many communities, including those in hurricane zones along the Gulf Coast, have zoned manufactured homes out of existing neighborhoods for fear of lowering surrounding property values.
In conclusion, our new mission is to re-invent a whole category of manufactured housing that delivers optimum safety, energy efficiency, and curb appeal — while making the most of cost-saving advantages inherent in factory building.
The pressure is on to adopt green building practices. However, green building might seem overwhelming if you associate it with unfamiliar building methods, new technology, and higher costs. You might wonder where to start.
Breathe a sigh of relief, because green building doesn’t require dramatic changes immediately. What it does require is a commitment to better building and greater attention to installation. With a few easy strategies, you can begin building greener homes that are more energy-efficient, durable, and healthier for homeowners. For instance, consider upgrading your insulation and air sealing, installing a vapor barrier under the slab, and installing fluorescent light fixtures. These steps will help you improve the energy efficiency, durability, and indoor air quality of your homes. As a starting point, begin implementing the easy green building practices below.
Insulation: A simple way to boost energy efficiency
The green benefits: Insulation reduces heat loss from a home, contributing to a more comfortable indoor environment. Insulation that’s installed correctly can have a significant impact on the home’s energy efficiency.
Installation: The more insulation, the better. Insulation should be installed at the correct depth and density to be effective at resisting heat flow. Batts shouldn’t be compressed or installed with gaps; instead, they should be flush with the framing. Similarly, blown-in insulation should be installed with consistent coverage and depth and fit completely around wires and electrical boxes.
Vapor barrier under the slab: Durability and IAQ benefits abound
The green benefits: A vapor barrier under the slab mitigates moisture related problems, such as mold growth under carpets, grout staining, and wood flooring de-lamination. These problems impair the home’s durability and indoor air quality.
Installation: Use a 10-mil polyethylene vapor barrier to fully cover the foundation footprint. For basements, extend the vapor barrier 2″ to 4″ up the foundation wall, and fix it to the wall with construction tape or adhesive. Overlap the seams 12″, and seal them with construction tape. For slab-on-grade foundations, lay down the vapor barrier on top of the gravel, and extend it into the footer, continuing the vapor barrier 12″ up the formwork.
Fluorescent light fixtures: An easy way to cut energy usage
The green benefits: Fluorescent lighting is the most practical energy-efficient lighting option available to residential builders. Fluorescent lights reduce the home’s overall energy usage; in turn, the environment benefits from fewer greenhouse gas emissions.
Installation: Install Energy Star high efficiency light fixtures and hardwired fixtures that are designed for use with fluorescent lamps in locations where lights remain on for extended periods of time: kitchens, living areas, and outdoors. Incorporate efficient task lighting into kitchens and bathrooms.
Air sealing: A strong step to energy efficiency
The green benefits: Air sealing is another critical component of an energy efficient home. It ensures the effectiveness of insulation; therefore, ensuring healthy indoor air. Without air sealing, cold air, moisture, and pollutants can leak into a home through cracks and penetrations.
Installation: Seal all gaps with low-expanding foam, foam strips, weatherstripping, weatherproof tape, and caulks. Make sure that no leaks remain at each step of the construction process. Conduct a blower door test to determine leakage paths.
OVE framing techniques: Green building at the frame
The green benefits: Optimum Value Engineering (OVE) framing techniques reduce the amount of wood needed to build a home. Framing members are placed only where they’re absolutely needed, reducing the amount of wood waste. OVE framed walls also provide more room for insulation.
Installation: OVE typically involves framing 24″ on center (o.c.) as opposed to 16″ o.c., and using 2×6 studs as opposed to 2×4 studs. If you’re not ready to adopt these changes, start integrating open corners and ladder panels into homes. Orienting the studs at a corner horizontally can allow you to install more insulation there. When framing a partition wall, rotate the stud to create a ladder panel, which helps accommodate more insulation.