Over the past couple of decades, green homes have made a lot of progress. Building green homes have moved quickly from being an “alternative” building method to a mainstream one, and it is continuing to grow even greener. Dodge Data & Analytics conducted a study in 2017 with the NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) that showed that 33% of home builders reported they are doing green builds currently for most of their projects. The market share of green home builders is expected to significantly increase, with the number of builders dedicated to solely focusing on building green homes expected to increase from 19% in 2017 up to 31% in 2022. Along with new green homes, there is also huge growth that continues to be done in the field of green home remodeling as well.
For builders, looking to grow and distinguish their businesses within the expanding marketing, this is very good news. It is also good for individuals who are interested in building their dream home as a certified green home or net-zero home or simply a home that has green home characteristics. With the green home markets continuing to expand, there is a whole range of options that are available to consumers to improve their home’s quality, lower energy expenses, decrease the environmental impact, and protect their health.
The reported expenses have done down for building new green homes, even as additional green building characteristics continue to be incorporated into more homes. The same study on green homes showed that a majority of green home builders think that over time the cost differential for going green has gone down, most likely due to more options being available and increased builder experience as well as competition driving prices down within the green products market. About 75% of builders who were surveyed think that the increased expenses for building green homes are lower than 10% more compared to non-green homes (with half of the builder estimating a 5%-10% cost differential). This represents a large decrease compared to past research where home builders thought green building expenses were a lot higher.
Fortunately, living in or building a greener home doesn’t mean you must adhere to the strictest requirements or turn your new house to Net Zero Energy (making it so green it generates more energy than it consumes). Dropping green technology costs are helping to transform green housing into a very popular investment and it is available to an increasing number of homeowners. It isn’t necessary to go “off-grid” in order to begin to incorporate green benefits into a home. In fact, numerous green home technologies and products can now be purchased directly from a smartphone or a local hardware store.
Even big-name national homebuilders are starting to offer their home buyers green home choices and options. Green building ideas are being put into place at various price levels for home buyer clients. Keep learning more about this increasingly popular trend. Why not try to continue improving the environmental impact and efficiency of your home while making choices that will fit into your current budget to make your house greener.
So if you are planning to build a new house, the following are some great green building ideas for you to consider:
1. Build Smaller
It doesn’t matter how green you try to build a large house, a smaller house that has the same eco-friendly and energy-efficient construction methods will have a much smaller environmental impact. And although “Tiny Houses” might be all the rage right now, building smaller doesn’t necessarily mean you must be restricted to tiny living. Creative design principles can be used to make your expansive dream house plans have a smaller and smarter footprint.
Smaller housing options have become increasingly popular due to their lower impact, reduced maintenance costs, and efficiency, and are planned for both rural and urban settings. The main point here is to be thoughtful in the way you use your space as you plan and build your house. Design your house around your lifestyle, and make sure to keep the space cost-effective and manageable. Square footage should be viewed as an investment. Use it where you want to have it the most rather than expanding it in all directions.
2. Go Solar
The ultimate source of low-cost, clean energy is the sun. Whenever you build, there is a unique opportunity for planning to use solar power in a way that people who own older houses cannot. When solar power is incorporated as native technology within your new house, you can take full advantage of geography, positioning, and light to get the maximum energy and efficiency for your investment. The way you position your house on its lot as well as where you put the solar panels can significantly impact the power you are able to collect (you can use the Google Project Sunroof website to evaluate the solar potential of both your and others’ properties).
When solar power and other green building concepts are combined, enough energy can be generated by solar power for you to begin to sell some of it back to the utility company. By law, in fact, utilities are required to buy excess power from home solar systems connected to the grid at a rate that is equal to the costs of the power provide to generate the power itself. If this isn’t enough of an incentive, there are also tax breaks, grants, and other types of government incentives that are available that relate to using solar power for your house.
3. Cool The Roof
The type of material that you use on your roof can really make a significant difference in the energy efficiency of your home. You might want to consider using a product that will reflect the energy of the sun away from your roof, cool it at night faster, and hold less heat for a shorter amount of time to help reduce usage and energy costs related to heat. Metal roofing, special membranes, white tiles, terra cotta, and slate are some of the roofing products that are available that have green benefits of varying degrees. There are numerous roofing options that are available, and although typically green options are more expensive – in terms of both installation and materials – you most likely will be able to recoup these expenses through energy savings, the minimal amount of maintenance that is required, and how long the product lasts.
4. Green Home With a Living Roof With Plants
The “living roof” was something we just had to mention since it is really cool. As a green roof, be aware that a living roof is built for holding plants that grow on a roof to catch rainwater and filter it. It also insulates the house and prevents water on the roof from directly flowing into the storm sewer system. Although living roofs have been used more often in commercial buildings, they can be incorporated into a residential roof as well.
5. Harness Geothermal Power
A large upfront investment is required for geothermal power. However, it does provide you with nearly unlimited energy for heating and cooling your house. The actual earth is where you get your geothermal energy. Throughout the winter, heat rises from deep under the ground into the HVAC system in your home; during the summer, your air conditioner removes the excess heat and it is dissipated underground by using the same principle that a heat pump uses. Think of geothermal cooling and heating as a way of moving heat rather than using combustion to create it.
6. Rely on Recycling
Have you ever wondered where old newspapers and blue jeans go? If so, the answer might be in the walls of your house. In both the short term and over the long run, total-fill insulation, which is made out of recycled materials definitely pays off. Since recyclables are used, your initial material expense will often be lower compared to if you were using virgin materials. Over time, you will also save money when you use insulating products that perform better or as well as first-insulation. Soybean byproducts, wood pulp, wool, and cotton are some of the materials that can be found in roll or spray-in insulation.
There are numerous recycled materials that are used are part of the green home building process, such as countertops and reclaimed wood made out of aluminum or recycled glass. You might want to talk to your builder about the options available to use for using recycled wood/plastic composite or recycled steel, which are both durable, high-quality products that can reduce how much new lumber your home uses.
7. Use Sustainable Methods and Materials
From your home’s frame to the flooring, using sustainable building materials can help to reduce the environmental impact that your construction project has. Wood is a type of renewable resource when you work with a supplier who adheres to sustainable planting methods. Flooring is an area where there are environmentally friendly new products available that are excellent for climate control efficiency and home insulation ratings. This type of modern flooring includes linoleum, cork, and bamboos, which are made out of renewable, natural materials. More builders, designers, and consumers are selecting linoleum as a type of environmentally friendly flooring that has a 25 to 40-year lifespan and at the end of its life can be completely recycled.
Some construction methods also have characteristics that are inherently sustainable. Many Prefab or Modular houses can be classified as being sustainable not only due to the materials that are used and their energy efficiency but also due to the process of building a house’s elements within a controlled setting results in many labor and material savings and also reduce waste. Modular houses are becoming increasingly popular and in many markets are considered to be an acceptable type of green home construction.
8. Work With The Land
If your home is designed to capitalize o the surrounding landscape from the very beginning, you will also enjoy less expensive, easier lawn care for as long as you own your house. If your property has a slope to it, plan your plantings so you can take full advantage of the natural characteristics. On higher ground, plant conifers and in low areas plant water-loving willows. You can try xeriscaping, which is a landscaping method where native rocks and plants are employed to minimize the use of water. Green land development strategies can be used by developers that are environmentally-friendly and save money as well.
9. Focus on Water
As Americans become increasingly aware of freshwater conservation and consumption and are taking additional steps in order to reduce the consumption of water. Consider appliances and fixtures that conserve water like Energy Star-rated washers, tankless water heaters, or low-flow faucet aerators. There is even a product available in the marketplace that pauses your shower automatically after the water warms up. That way you don’t have to waste many gallons of hot water running inside an empty shower. Another thing you can consider is to capture rainwater from your property. Before there was running water in homes, households often used cisterns to collect run-off. You can use collected rainwater to maintain landscapes, irrigate gardens, and fill water features. Some of the innovations occurring in onsite water management methods include employing a rain garden rather than just piping water off of a property as a natural way to filter runoff for your yard.
10. “Energize” Your Green Home’s Windows
Energy Star windows have fast become the stars of the green home product’s market. The appropriately-named windows are rate by the government as Energy Star products. These windows are much more energy-efficient than even new double-pane models. Also, Energy Star windows significantly reduce sound transfer from the outside to the inside. This results in cooling and heating costs dropping and home values rising. Homeowners can save hundreds of dollars per month in the form of lower energy bills.
11. Take Your Thermostat to an Entirely New Level
In the past, highly programmable thermostats were only available for high-end houses. However, they are becoming standard for use in new houses everywhere, in addition to off-the-shelf upgrades available to install in existing houses. You can program the high-tech thermostats to adjust cooling and heating activities that factor in vacations, times when nobody is home, the time of day, and more. This kind of thermostat can lower your cooling and heating bills and also save the environment by using less energy. Your HVAC system will also work more efficiently which means the system will experience less wear-and-tear and live longer.
There are numerous smart building and green product options that are available these days that can increase your home’s value, reduce its environmental impact, and improve your home’s performance. As the market continues to evolve, “green homes” is a term that is used along with “high-performance homes” in order to describe the cost savings and efficiency that the homeowner gains.
So are you ready to get started with green home building? If so, consult with your landscaper, architect, builder, and home builders’ association in your area – before you build your house and throughout the entire process. That will help you go green while you are building your dream home or if you are building one for a customer.
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