Consider: Eco-Friendly and Healthy Houses, Environmentally Friendly Home Materials, GREEN Payback Time and Return on Investment, Healthy House Materials, and LEED Homes
By taking the initiative to transform your existing home in to a ‘green’ home or building a new home, you will save money and the environment as well as improve your family’ health. Whether you’re a homebuyer or a renter looking for a green home, this checklist will help you identify a truly green home and ensure you get a healthier, high-performance green home that costs less to operate and has fewer environmental impacts:
Green Building Materials: A green home will have been constructed or renovated with healthy, non-toxic building materials and furnishings, like low- and zero-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints and sealants and non-toxic materials like strawboard for the sub-flooring. Wood-based features should come from rapidly renewable sources like bamboo, but if tropical hardwoods are used, they must be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. A green home uses salvaged materials like kitchen tiles and materials with significant recycled content.
Location: New green homes and neighborhoods must not be built on environmentally sensitive sites like prime farmland, wetlands and endangered species habitats. The greenest development sites are “in-fill” properties like former parking lots, rail yards, shopping malls and factories. Look for compact development where the average housing density is at least six units per acre. Your home should also be within easy walking distance of public transportation – like bus lines, light rail, and subway systems – so you can leave your car at home. A green home should also be within walking distance of parks, schools, and stores. See how many errands you can carry out on a bicycle. That’s healthier for you, your wallet, and the environment.
Size: No matter how many green building elements go into your home, a 5,000-square-foot green home still consumes many more natural resources than a 2,000-square-foot green home. The larger home will also require more heating, air conditioning and lighting. If you really want a sustainable home, choose a smaller size. Since the average size of America homes has steadily increased over the past several decades, there are new solutions available to have ‘sustainable’ homes that generate their own form of renewable energy while also catering to the mainstream American desire for larger homes.
Building Design: The home should be oriented on its site to bring abundant natural daylight into the interior to reduce lighting requirements and to take advantage of any prevailing breezes. Windows, clerestories, skylights, light monitors, light shelves and other strategies should be used to bring daylight to the interior of the house. The exterior should have shading devices (sunshades, canopies, green screens and – best of all – trees), particularly on the southern and western facades and over windows and doors, to block hot summer sun. [t4]Dual-glaze windows reduce heat gain in summer and heat loss during cold winter months. The roof should be a light-colored, heat-reflecting Energy Star roof, or a green (landscaped) roof, to reduce heat absorption.
Insulation: A non-toxic insulation, derived from materials like soybean or cotton, with a high R (heat resistance) factor in a home’s walls and roof will help prevent cool air leakage in the summer and warm air leakage in the winter.
Windows and Doors: Windows and exterior doors should have ENERGY STAR® ratings, and they should seal their openings tightly to avoid heat gain in summer and heat loss in winter.
Energy Efficiency: A green home has energy-efficient lighting, heating, cooling and water-heating systems. Appliances should have ENERGY STAR® ratings. Low-E and Argon Gas help to deliver the performance that your need to create a more efficient home.
Water Efficiency: A green home has a water-conserving irrigation system and water-efficient kitchen and bathroom fixtures. Look for a rainwater collection and storage system, particularly in drier regions where water is increasingly scarce and expensive.
Landscaping: Vine-covered green screens, large canopy trees and other landscaping should shade exterior walls, the driveway, patios and other “hardscape” to minimize heat islands. Yards should be landscaped with drought-tolerant plants rather than water-guzzling plants and grass in most regions.
Indoor Environmental Quality: Natural daylight should reach at least 75% of the home’s interior. Natural ventilation (via building orientation, operable windows, fans, wind chimneys and other strategies) should bring plentiful fresh air inside the house. The HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system should filter all incoming air and vent stale air outside. The garage should not have any air handling equipment or return ducts, and it should have an exhaust fan.
Renewable Energy: The home should generate some of its own energy with technologies like photovoltaic systems. This is the holy grail of the ‘high performance home’ that takes green to the next level.
The right home improvement products, techniques, and services:
Contractors, home improvement stores, and specialty shops in your area may not yet have a complete familiarity with the ‘green’ opportunities, products, system integration, and overall savings potential. So, you may get some resistance, since people in general are typically more comfortable recommending something that they are already familiar with rather than something new. To help break the inertia, use the information across this website like our Return on Investment Master ROI Table. Also feel free to post a question in our forum on the message board about a particular need for your home relative to your area. Our team has spent multiple years aggregating research from public and private sector performance reports and from manufacturers and homeowners across the country in order to provide you with the perspective you may need to see the initial payback and long term advantages. Environmental enthusiasts and leading institutions like the American Institute of Architects and the National Association of Realtors, see the value and link into our resources to support their members.
The Green Home:
For your overall home improvement, you can save money, improve your family’s health, and save the planet. Find out for free how much it will cost to do different types of home improvement in your home from a qualified and member approved contractor in your area. Get a FREE Quote . Plus, regardless of the size and scope of your home improvement project, save money and keep your home clean with the top rated chemical free and concentrated Green Home Cleaning Products.
Home Improvement Basics:
When it comes to home improvement basics, look for interior home improvements like creating a clean, safe, and healthy home through sustainable ‘green’ furniture, home décor, zero VOC and Interior Paint, plus ENERGY STAR Appliances and Electronics. For energy and utility savings you can focus on insulation and air sealing, windows, doors, lighting and skylights, water saving plumbing opportunities, and high efficiency heating and air conditioning systems. On the outside of your house, look for exterior home improvement opportunities through landscape design and gardening plus solar energy, wind and other power sources. If you are undertaking a major home renovation, an additions, or building a new home, then take the lead to ‘go green’ in as many ways as possible to save money and the environment.