By Chuck Tripp, Donald A. Gardner Architects
Living a natural lifestyle brings so many benefits to body, mind, and spirit — and there are so many things we can do to make the shift. Many are simple, small changes that can be done anywhere, such as switching to natural body care and cleaning products, or using reusable bags and water bottles. But once you’ve made small changes, you’ll likely want to expand your green lifestyle to include your home.
Green home building is no longer just a trend. So many more people these days are interested in building an eco-friendly home that 51 percent of builders expect at least 60 percent of their new homes to qualify as green by 2020. Whether you are thinking about remodeling or building new, here are a few things you should know about eco-friendly home building.
What Exactly Does Building an Eco-Friendly Home Mean?
What makes a home environmentally friendly is open to interpretation. Some people believe that simply adding green features (such as solar panels on the roof) is enough to qualify a standard home as green. Others argue that certification through green building programs such as LEED is the only way to be sure a home meets adequate sustainability standards. Regardless of opinion, most people agree that sustainable home building offers numerous advantages to both homeowners and communities.
Why Build Green?
Green home house plans and green building features offer the following benefits:
- Environmental stewardship. Building green helps ensure minimal damage to the environment, protecting our air, water and wildlife for future generations.
- Economic advantage. Many sustainable home elements pay for themselves many times over in lowered utility bills. Green homes also sell faster and at a premium compared with conventional homes.
- Improved comfort. Many green features, such as air sealing and insulation, make for a cozier, more comfortable home.
- Aesthetic appeal. Today’s home builders and designers can choose from an astonishing selection of sustainable materials and home elements at all price points. Many stand out for their beauty and visual interest, leading to infinite possibilities in design.
10 Practical Ways to Build a More Eco-Friendly Home
There are many ways to incorporate eco-friendly elements into a home. Here are some eco-friendly suggestions to get you started.
- Build a smaller home for a smaller eco-footprint.
- Orient your home to take advantage of sun and wind.
- Install energy- and water-efficient appliances.
- Include alternative water sources such as rain barrels and greywater systems.
- Use recycled, renewable and/or locally sourced building materials.
- Install energy-efficient lighting.
- Properly air seal and insulate your home.
- Consider going solar.
- Make sure your ductwork is properly sized and sealed for efficiency.
- Get solar-ready: Build with solar and/or electric vehicles in mind.
Because green homes are rapidly becoming mainstream, building an eco-friendly home has never been easier. Whether you are planning to do the work yourself or hire a contractor, see how green you can go with your next home-building or remodeling project.
For even more great ideas (23 ways!) for your sustainable home build, click on this infographic.
Author bio: Chuck Tripp has more than 20 years of experience in the residential stock house plan industry. He is currently Sales & Marketing Director of Donald A. Gardner Architects, Inc., a house planning company that has been developing floor plans since 1978.