The combination of technology and customer demand has made “being green” throughout your home easier than ever. This now trending Green Building scene has definitely taken hold. Today, our expectations and our realities are in sync...sustainable, eco-friendly, green homes are now possible from top to bottom. Here are ways to create and/or renovate your sustainable, eco-friendly home:
Think water conservation and install a dedicated pipe for gray-water irrigation, plumbing and appliance usage. Xeriscaping with drought resistant plants and catching rainfall in barrels to conserve/reuse water are secondary actions after a gray-water pipe to help conserve water.
Consider using concrete alternatives for the foundation of the house. One such alternative is “ashcrete,” a composition of 97% recycled materials such as glass, foam, paper and recycled waste.
Instead of using wood and the 50-60 trees required to frame a 3,000 square foot home, use recycled steel. Seven or eight scrapped cars would likely be more than enough for this 3,000 square footage...obviously more scrapped cars would be needed for a bigger house. The bonus? Recycled steel is stronger and more effective against high winds and earthquakes than wood.
Natural insulation materials (“hempcrete” composed of hemp and lime, sheep’s wool, recycled cotton fibers, soybean foam) can be sprayed on or formed around wall frames to create breathable wall systems. Such insulating materials enhance indoor air quality and are more durable than the usual fiberglass materials used for insulation.
Renewable local masonry and compressed earth blocks that use 92-96% dirt and 4-8% concrete have kept people and cultures cool and warm for hundreds of years. This is definitely one of those “everything old is new again” things.
Eco-friendly flooring options are plentiful. They include cork. Bamboo, glass, recycled metal, stone, ceramic tile, and salvaged wood. To keep bathroom floors sustainable and water resistant, just apply a low or no-VOC sealant annually.
Smart windows that change their tint according to sunlight amounts outside help save energy, and heating and cooling costs.
Believe it or not, there are eco-friendly paints that help purify the air and fight pollution due to ultrafine titanium dioxide components.
Countertops composed of aluminum, steel, recycled glass, bamboo, salvaged wood help conserve natural resources.
Formaldehyde free cabinets make healthier homes. Look for materials such as bamboo, plywood, renewable agrifiber boards or salvaged wood.
Recycled steel and glass for light fixtures. LED bulbs as well.
Low lead/flow toilets, faucets, shower heads are now ubiquitous.
As are, smart appliances that can be connected and controlled with mobile apps. Siri and Alexa are now monitoring real time energy consumption (to the tune of 20% savings) in more and more homes across the country.
And last but not least are roofing materials able to both cool and insulate your home. “Cool roofs” that use tile, metal, foam and rubber polymer go well beyond solar panels and recycled shingles with some 7 - 15% cost savings and much reduced temperature fluctuations. “Green roofs,” roofs that employ planted vegetation along with recycled steel and proper engineering, add insulation, reduce heating and cooling costs, and reduce stormwater runoff. Additionally, green roofs actually double the lifespan of the roof and generate cleaner air around and inside the home.
Clearly, it’s easier to be greener today than ever before. In the past, homeowners/clients/customers would dream about having Zero Energy Homes, homes that produce enough energy to “make up” for the energy their homes “spend.” Now, home focused consumers are demanding Positive Energy Homes, homes that generate excess energy that can be either sold back to the grid or used by the homeowners themselves to power things such as electric vehicles, power tools, blowers, and saunas.