Ideas to Go Green While Building a New House

Green building practices or materials are gaining huge popularity among both, home builders and homeowners. Incorporating these materials or methods can greatly improve the energy efficiency and air quality of your house, while protecting the environment at the same time. Due to mounting popularity of green building trends, availability of renewable construction materials, as well as builders practicing green construction, has also increased. This has further resulted in decreasing the total cost associated with building a green house. The best part is that most of the house plans are easy to adapt for an eco-friendly building. Thus, going green is not difficult for the homeowners, if they want to. Given below are some simple ideas that can help you go green while building a new house.

Look for a builder, who uses FSC certified wood. Using lumber, grown as well as harvested in a safe and ecologically sound way, is one of the most important aspects of sustainable building. Also, make sure that shelving, floors and counter tops of your new house are built using low or zero VOC materials. Products that contain low or no VOCs in them improve air quality inside the house and thus, reduce pollution. Those, who have pulmonary problems, may be allergic to off-gassing, caused due to materials like paints. So, it is important to be very careful while choosing such products.

Likewise, while selecting appliances, doors and windows for your new house, make sure to pick the ones with energy star ratings. The doors and windows should be dual pane, so that minimum amount of heat escapes from the house during winters. Besides, solar hot water heater can make a wonderful alternative for the traditional water heater, which uses a lot of energy. You can even conserve water by making certain choices, like low flow toilets, faucets and shower heads.

Landscaping with drought resistant shrubbery and growing native plants would help you conserve water. Native plants would even require less fertilizers and pesticides. Besides, insulating the roof with materials that are recyclable is also a great idea to go green, while building a new house. Soy beans, old denims and newspapers are some of the most easily available and safe materials that can be used for insulation. Lighting the house with Compact Fluorescent bulbs, instead of the old tradition bulbs, which consume a great amount of energy would be better.

You can also plan to have some extra space to create a kitchen garden. There is nothing like cooking food with home grown vegetables. Just think about not having to get ready and drive to the grocery store for purchasing fruits or vegetables. It would not only offer you many health benefits but also save a great deal of money that goes into groceries every month. Not to mention, the fuel you will save by not driving to the grocery store every other day. So, implement these ideas and you are sure to have a wonderful green life in your new home.

 

What Is Green Real Estate?

Over the past decade, more people have become interested in helping the environment than ever before. One of the best ways to help the environment is to focus on consuming as little as possible while avoiding using energy when it is not necessary. As a result, a number products of come on the market that can help people do more using less energy. There are, however, other techniques set up been employed in recent years. Today, green real estate has become popular, and buyers often look to purchase homes that designed to operate as efficiently as possible. Here are a few common elements of green real estate.

– Insulation
Insulation is a crucial component of green real estate. Homes that are not properly insulated will lead to higher bills for heating and cooling. Even small cracks in a home can lead to significantly higher energy bills, which are indicative of a home that is consuming more energy than is necessary. When looking for green real estate, it is important to see how well insulated a building is.

– Green energy
When it comes to green real estate, the most obvious component is solar panels. In the 1990s, solar panels were generally considered to be unattractive, and real estate agents were often advise sellers that homes with solar panels will sell at lower costs. Today, solar panels are viewed as valuable additions to homes, and the amount that they will increase a homes value by generally exceeds the cost of buying and installing panels. Those interested in green real estate developments may wish to install solar panels.

– Environmental integration
Green real estate also deals with building homes that mesh well with the environment. When building a home, some developers are now looking for ways to avoid cutting down trees. In addition, environmental themes are now common in homes, and buyers often look for homes that seemed to blend with their surroundings. It primarily deals with issues of energy usage and conservation, but the aesthetic elements cannot be ignored.

– Small steps everyone can take
Environmentally-friendly products are coming to the market every day, and many of these products target homes. Fortunately, there steps everyone can take to reduce how much energy they use, and green products are more affordable than ever. While newer homes are generally more energy efficient than older homes, installing new windows or new insulation can lead to a tremendous reduction in energy usage. Going green does not always entail purchasing a new home; in some cases, the best way to be green is to look toward one’s current home and focus on incremental improvements.

How to Make Commercial Buildings More Green?

Offices and commercial buildings have a major impact on environment. Designing sustainable buildings not only augurs well for the environment, but also improves the company’s profit over time. For long, green construction was mostly limited to homes. However, with time, the concept is fast catching up during construction of commercial apartments. Let’s take a look how real estate developers are making office buildings more green.

Green roofs

Eco-friendly advances don’t just focus on the building’s structure and architecture. It starts from the top. Layers of plants and grass on the top moderate outdoor heat during summer and retain warmth during winter. Though such roofs are costly, yet they reap benefits in the long run.

Living walls

Vegetation covers living walls. These walls improve air quality and reflect solar radiation. The walls absorb rainwater and play a big role in reducing building temperature. The walls improve the overall aesthetics of a room and act as effective noise barriers.

Passive solar building design

In this type of design the walls, floors and windows distribute solar energy in the form of heat in winter and reject it during summer. Sun is a part of the building’s lighting in this design. Though complicated, passive solar building design doesn’t cost much. An apartment using this design uses materials that have high thermal mass along with large windows and deciduous plants on its southern side.

Smart lighting

Lighting is an important aspect of eco-friendly buildings. Developers are installing automated systems that turn off lights when not required. A green commercial property focuses more on using natural daylight to cut the dependence on artificial lights during the day.

Smart glass

Small glass or electrochromic glass allows users to control the amount of heat or light passing through the glass. Through these glasses, one can regulate temperature of the room. These glasses, based on the principle of electrochromism, change their opacity or color when electricity passes through them. They save air-conditioning cost and most of them block the harmful ultraviolet rays.

Dual piping system

Green apartments focus on water conservation. Dual piping system is an effective way to conserve water. Water gets divided into two types – portable and reclaimed – in this system. While portable water is used for drinking, reclaimed water is used to clean toilets.

Ways to Make Your House More Green

Building a new home is a perfect time to integrate green features in it. A green home not only reduces cost of construction, but also makes it more marketable in the future. Let’s see how you can make your house more green.

Make your walls and roof well insulated

Effective insulation makes your apartment warm during winter and cold during summer. Through wool, glass fiber batts and reflective foils, you can insulate the walls and roof of your house. Heating and cooling process account for more than 50% of the home’s total energy consumption.

Replace old and leaky windows

Replace old and leaky windows with energy-efficient models. You can also boost efficiency of the windows via weather-stripping. Replacing old windows with energy-efficient ones is a common practice followed by green homeowners.

Install plenty of ceiling fans

Installing ceiling fans in every room is a great way to reduce carbon footprints. Ceiling fans are cheaper than air conditioners and consume less power. They reduce your monthly electricity bill and protect the environment.

Use energy-saving light bulbs

Compact fluorescent lamps are a part of eco-friendly houses. These bulbs, though expensive, consume less energy, produce less heat and last longer than traditional bulbs. You can save a lot by using these energy-efficient bulbs.

Plant trees around your house

A good landscaping is essential to make your house green. Hence, plant plenty of trees and shrubs around your home. They not only improve the home’s overall look, but also generate pure oxygen – an absolute must for a healthy living.

Use energy star appliances

Energy Star is a renowned symbol on energy-efficient appliances. Energy Star is a program started to cut greenhouse gas emission. Energy Star appliances are cheaper as compared to others. When appliances meet certain criteria set by the Environmental Protection Agency, they earn this label.

Have cross ventilation

Cross ventilation helps a house to cool down fast. You can make cross ventilation by opening doors or windows on the opposite side of your home. This allows free-flow of breeze. Don’t just open a single door or window. Have higher ceilings and wide entry halls for more circulation of air.

Opt for renewable source energy

Opting for renewable source of energy reduces dependence on coal-burning power plants. These plants emit a significant amount of greenhouse gases. Install solar panels on roof to harness the power of sun. Your electricity bill will scale down manifold when you opt for natural sources of energy.

Upgrade your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system

Upgrading your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system reduces your energy cost by nearly 30%. Divide your heating and cooling system into multiple zones in your home to save money.

Five Benefits of Owning a Green Home

Green homes are apartment buildings, bungalows, or any other residential buildings that are constructed to have the minimum possible negative impact on the environment. In case you decide to buy a green home, you will enjoy several benefits in addition to minimizing environmental harm. Let’s look at the major five benefits of owning such a home.

1. Encourages Eco-Friendly Living

The construction of a green home is accomplished by adopting green principles like energy efficient systems, water and waste management, and so on. The construction and functioning of these homes depend a lot on recycling and reusing waste materials. In addition to this, the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from these homes are much lower. The overall carbon footprints left by green homes are lesser in comparison with other regular homes.

2. Improves Indoor Air Quality

The paints used in green homes have low or zero levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOC paints emit toxic solvents, which when inhaled by people, may cause dizziness or headaches.

Green homes use raw materials that are less harmful to the overall well-being of the residents. They have better ventilation facilities. As a result, the indoor air quality is much better. Naturally, people living in such homes are less prone to respiratory or immune diseases.

3. Provides Numerous Tax and Loan Benefits

Some banks like the National Housing Bank (NHB) and State Bank of India (SBI) have tie-ups with the Indian Green Building Council (IGBC). They offer concessions on processing fees and interest rates for home loans on green homes certified by the IGBC.

The state of Maharashtra offers up to 5-10% rebate on property tax for certified homes. This rebate is on the verge of being introduced in other states as well, and will soon be a major source of tax return.

4. Lowers Maintenance and Operating Costs

Green homes help you save on your monthly electricity and water bills. Several new innovative ideas like rainwater harvesting and home insulation, which are characteristics of these homes, help you achieve energy efficiency. For example, these homes can be naturally kept cool during summer months by using reflective paints on the roof. This reduces the need for air conditioners or coolers.

The technology used for the construction of green homes is simple and basic. The materials and equipment used are long lasting and don’t need regular maintenance. In this way, home owners save quite a lot on their maintenance bills as well.

5. High Resale Value

Green homes are the future of real estate. They’ll be sold at a high market value, as more and more homebuyers in India turn towards a green lifestyle. Future homebuyers will want to invest in property that is healthy for the occupants and the environment, as well as low on maintenance costs. Therefore, investing in such a home will bring you good value for your money in the future.

Energy Efficient Homes: 5 Ways to Convert Your Home

If you want to reduce your monthly electricity bills, you can do so by making your home more energy efficient. In addition to everyday tips like switching off lights and fans, you can make some major changes around the house.

In this article, we talk about the major ways that you can make your home more energy efficient.

1. Use Energy Efficient Light Bulbs

You can start saving energy with something as small as changing your light bulbs. Although incandescent bulbs are cheaper and more readily available, CFLs or LEDs are a better alternative when it comes to total savings and longevity.

CFLs use one-fifth of the energy consumed by the regular incandescent bulbs while providing the same amount of light. With CFLs, you will save up to 80% of your daily electricity consumption. CFL bulbs last much longer than normal bulbs and have a positive budgetary impact.

2. Adopt Home Insulation Methods

Reduce the use of home cooling systems like coolers, air conditioners, and so on, and still keep your home cool during summers by using few simple methods.

Insulate your home to keep the heat outside during summer days and the warm air inside during the winters. Paint the roof with reflective paint for minimum heat absorption into the house. Use double glazed windows and vinyl window frames instead of aluminum to prevent unnecessary transfer of heat. Using blinds on windows during summers will keep the glare out and keep your home cooler.

3. Get New Energy Efficient Appliances

The older an appliance is, lesser will be its energy efficiency. Replace these appliances with newer models, especially those having Energy Star certification, and make an energy-efficient home.

To save on your water consumption, get low-flow equipment like low-flow showers and washing machines, low-flush toilets, and so on.

4. Plant More Trees

Planting more trees around any place provides better heat regulation. If you have enough space, you should plant deciduous trees around the eastern, western, and southern walls of your house. These sides receive the most sunlight.

Planting a tree right beside the exhaust outlet of an air conditioner will also help in saving energy. Plant evergreen trees on the north side to keep out the cold winds during the winter months.

5. Follow Everyday Household Tips for Energy Saving

There are some simple tips you can follow to create an energy efficient home.

i. Switch off lights, fans, air conditioners, computers, chargers, televisions and any other electrical appliance that is not in use.

ii. Use microwave ovens more, as they use 50% less energy than electric or gas stoves.

iii. Use moderate flame settings on LPG burners.

iv. Provide some space for air circulation between your refrigerator and the wall.

v. Use natural drying methods instead of electrical drying.

vi. Use air conditioners with automatic temperature cut-offs.

Undergo regular maintenance of all appliances like stove burners, refrigerators, air conditioners and so on to ensure their proper functioning.

Things to Consider While Hiring a Green Builder

As an environmentally conscious person are you passionate about implementing green building design for your next project? Then you need to look for a reputed and experienced green builder who’s equally passionate and motivated in coming up with energy efficiency designs. Consider the following points while hiring one:

1. Whether it’s a commercial or residential project, you can hire a well committed architect who relies on the latest technology and is capable of coming up with customized solutions for any project category.

2. The green architect you choose to work with should be able to come up with practical net zero design for your project. He/she must be able to communicate every aspect of construction with clarity and care. You need to hire an individual who can reason well and think independently to give you the desired end result.

3. It’s better to talk with the references they provide to really understand and see for yourself how well the builder executes green building solutions on large or small scale projects.

4. More importantly, the builder must be capable in carefully monitoring the budget and communicate at regular intervals about the project status.

5. It’s good to choose an architect who’s certified by LEED program as their designs and practices are well approved and recognized by the Green Building Council.

A green building approach can turn out to be not just Eco-friendly, but also helps in conserving and producing energy while saving you considerable money on your monthly power bills. On the other hand, a green building will decrease waste production and cut down on pollution. In short, the design will be environmentally efficient and responsible all through the building’s life-cycle. So the right green architect should be able to help you right from siting the right place to designing and construction or renovation of the project. You can choose a company that specializes in offering green building design that smartly addresses any energy consumption issues. A well experienced firm will provide you with a wide range of options to help you in assessing all the available possibilities and choose the best for energy conservation for your industrial or residential projects. They will help you with designing a building that makes effective use of water, energy and various other important resources, while protecting the health of people who live within its premises. The sustainable building design principles can be effectively applied for new construction projects as well as renovation work, so its time you considered it by choosing the right people.

Energy Efficient Buildings With Glazed Aluminium Windows and Doors

Energy efficient buildings have been seen as a luxury rather than a necessity in some countries. With many countries worldwide introducing new legislation to improve on the total building energy-efficiency footprint, it has prompted for an essential holistic look at building processes. Leading aluminium extrusion manufacturers have taken this environmental requirement to heart and have introduced thermally efficient window systems which, along with their other products, comply with national standards.

Conservation of energy is of serious concern in building design as a large amount of energy is expended in the heating or cooling of interior spaces. One of the priorities is to cut down on the internal illumination by increasing glazing to allow for increases in ambient light. This however increases the heat loss or gain to these spaces as windows and doors can notoriously be bad insulators.

Energy-efficiency in building and in particular glazing systems has been reserved mostly for cold climate zones and this has been the obvious costs involved in heating buildings. Now, the costs involved in cooling buildings are becoming just as apparent. As important as it has been to keep heat from going out of a building, it is becoming as important to ensure that heat coming into a building is limited.

The U-Value Measurement is used to evaluate the thermal performance of building material. Simply put: U-Value is the measure of the rate of heat loss through a material. Thus in all aspects of home design, the lowest U-Values should be aimed for where possible because the lower the U-value, the less heat that is unnecessarily escaping or entering.

Energy (temperature) flows through glazed windows and doors through a combination of four main factors namely: air leakage, conduction, convection and radiation.

• Air Leakage
The flow of temperature through (in or out) the product through unsealed opening frames. Some windows don’t have any seals, making them non-compliant to building regulation and extremely inefficient altogether.

• Conduction
The process by which heat is directly transmitted through a substance where there is a difference of temperature.

• Convection
The movement caused within a fluid or air by the tendency of hotter and therefore less dense material to rise, and colder, denser material to sink under the influence of gravity, which consequently results in the transfer of heat.

• Radiation
Heat transferred in the form of light energy through glass (including non-visible spectra).

Both clear float glass and aluminium are relatively poor insulators of heat. In buildings, they equate to a large portion of the energy required to maintain optimal environmental conditions. Designing an Aluminium Glazed System to overcome all four heat transfer conditions is paramount to enhancing the saving of energy which can be achieved all year around.

Aluminium: Aluminium being non-transparent is affected by radiant energy by absorbing it and converting it into both conductive and convectional heat. Aluminium is one of the best heat conductors and because of these properties it is used as a heat sink in computer thermal applications. Controlling the conductive and convection properties is important and possible when designing thermally efficient systems.

Glass: Glass being transparent is not greatly affected by radiant heat as it allows heat in the form of infrared radiation to pass directly through it, heating a room directly. It is also a poor insulator from both conductive and convection properties.

Glazed systems are a major building cost. Thermally-efficient glazed aluminium systems have the benefit of paying for itself. As energy costs increase, the energy saved though efficient building practices actually put money back in your pocket in the long-term, effectively paying for themselves.

Building designs in certain countries are starting to feel the effect of inefficient building energy design due to increases in energy costs. By changing the design configurations of both aluminium and glass and adding insulating weather seals, it is possible to substantially modify and convert these materials into an effective energy-efficient system. On their own they remain inefficient, but in a system designed to isolate and modify the energy flows, they become highly energy-efficient fenestration systems.

How to Go Green in an Apartment

You’ve already take the first step to green living – moving into a small space in an existing building. But did you know that there are many other ways you can live green in an apartment? Read on to learn some of these ways.

Your kitchen

Think about how you drink water, juice, and other beverages. Can you use a reusable container? If the water in your apartment isn’t very good, you can install a water filter on the tap or use a countertop model. Then you can just refill your bottle as you need. You’ll also recoup your investment quickly by saving the money you would otherwise spend on bottled water.

Power outlets

Just having something plugged in can actually draw electricity through it, even if the appliance or device on the other end is not on. If you aren’t actually using the device, make sure you unplug it. You can cut your power usage by as much as 40%, based on studies that have been done.

Adjust that thermostat

No doubt you’ve heard that changing your thermostat can reduce your electricity bill. It’s true. Turn down your winter thermostat to 68 degrees and you will be able to save quite a lot of both money and electricity. Conversely, turning your thermostat up in the summer and using windows strategically to let in the cooler night air will save on your air conditioning costs.

If your complex allows you, you can even use a plastic film over the windows to keep out the cold in the winter or the heat in the summer. Even if you are not allowed to do this, you can use heavy curtains that will help block out strong sun rays and keep you warmer when the nights turn cold.

Appliances

If you have appliances in your unit like washing machines and dryers, use them only when you have full loads to make the most of your water and power. Remember, the machine uses the same resources regardless of what is inside. The same is true of a dishwasher. Make sure it is full before running it.

Plant some plants

The fresh air that plants can help generate goes a long way towards cleaning the air in your apartment. There are lists you can find of great indoor plants, so long as your apartment managers allow for them. Even if you can’t grow any indoors, you might be able to have a small container garden on your patio and have fresh veggies and fruit. There’s also a concept called vertical gardening that lets you even grow squash in a small area.

Green cleaning

You can find greener cleaners in the organics section of most grocery stores, so your laundry and dishes will have less of an impact on the environment. They don’t have heavy perfumes, either, so your air will stay naturally fresher.

Light switch

Just changing your regular incandescent bulbs out for fluorescent or LED bulbs will use less electricity and give you a longer lasting bulb. LEDs can last for years, recovering the investment in them along the way.

Designing a Greenhouse As a Tropical Oasis

Living in the cold, wet northern hemisphere is not for everyone, and even those who enjoy the chilly temperatures and snowfall need to take a break in a warmer climate from time to time. Taking a vacation, however, especially for those with large families and individuals who work full time, isn’t always an option. Travelling expenses, along with planning a week’s worth of activities, and trying to accommodate everyone can sometimes be more of a headache than a vacation. A vacation-like ambiance can be made right at home, and doing so is a breeze with the help of a greenhouse and an expert team of designers.

Greenhouses are made almost entirely of glass windows and skylights, which allows the sun to warm the interior, making a tropical climate for both humans and plants. Overheating and sunburn will not be an issue, as long as proper glazing options are considered. Incorporating low emission glass coatings, such as LoE 366, will produce a highly efficient glass structure that will block harmful rays in the summer and insulate during the winter. Ventilation will be crucial to ensure air circulates and does not become stagnant. Ridge vents, eave vents, and operable windows are great ventilation options for both humans and plants. Incorporating a retractable roof skylight will open the structure to the outside on warm, sunny days.

Growing palm trees inside the greenhouse is an ideal way to create a vacation atmosphere, as are hibiscus, and practically any vibrant tropical flower. Before cultivation begins, however, it is important to research the various preferences of each plant in order to ensure the greenhouse growing environment is mutually beneficial for each different species. Once the vegetation has been selected, creating the perfect interior environment will be easy with the help of a greenhouse control system, which integrates all lighting, heating, cooling, and irrigation accessories into one cohesive unit.

Adding a full-sized pool, spa, or other water features will elevate the tropical greenhouse oasis and help produce the total vacation package. Incorporating a water feature inside a greenhouse or other glass structure, though, will most likely increase interior humidity and condensation, especially in a high-performing structure. Condensation has the ability to promote fungal growth in the atmosphere, which can negatively affect both people and plants. Ensuring proper structural ventilation with ridge vents, eave vents, operable windows, and skylights will help minimize and monitor condensation levels and create a comfortable experience for all users.

Greenhouses, whether designed as a freestanding structure or attached to an existing building, are the perfect way to create a tropical vacation spot right at home. Doing this will allow users a relaxing getaway at any time of year and also reduce yearly vacation costs in the long run.