Building “Green” is a catch phrase that has gotten increasingly more popular. What does building green actually mean? Do you have to live off grid, away from civilization with a compacting toilet to qualify?
In building a home, many things constitute as “green” or energy efficient. Green means you are taking into consideration the energy use, water use, indoor environmental quality, material selection, and the building's effects on the land.
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) defines Green Building as “the practice of designing, constructing and operating buildings to maximize occupant health and productivity, use fewer resources, reduce waste and negative environmental impacts, and decrease life cycle costs.” LEED is the industry stamp of approval and acts as the framework for the decision making teams on a project.
So, now that we’ve defined it, how can we implement it?
For a home, building materials is the first place to start. Let’s focus on energy efficiency.
Low-E, Vinyl Pane Windows
Many window manufacturers offer Low-E windows in a variety of colors to complement your home’s overall style. Their clear coating of metal oxide blocks infrared radiation keeping your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
It can take as many at 50 trees to build an average house. It will take 6 scrap cars to be recycled into steel beams to serve the same purpose. Steel beams can be used as a substitute for wooden beams to reduce the amount of wood used in a home.
Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF)
ICF are made of recycled polystyrene foam, stacked like “lego” blocks and poured full of concrete. Not only is this extremely energy efficient with an R-Value of 40 but is sound proof and allows 75% less air infiltration. This means less air leakage and less allergens and pollutants into the home. Fiber insulation is not needed as the foam doubles as an insulator. A home run in the Green Building ballgame.
Visit www.ICFSpecialist.com for more information.
While you can certainly live off grid, using only local building materials, and being completely self sufficient, there are ways to minimize the toll your home takes on the environment and Mother Earth.