Simple Ideas for Residential Green Building
1) Water Conservation:
- Install low flow water closets and water faucets/shower heads; low flow water closets are available as low as 1.3 gallons per flush where traditional water closets are as high as 2.8 gallons per flush. When selecting water faucets/shower faucets choose flow rates at maximum of 2.0 gallons per minute
- Tankless water heaters or insta-hots, tankless water heaters take the concept of using hot water instantly, rather than waiting on a delay that is wasteful for water
- Irrigation systems with an auto rain sensor; technology of the auto rain sensor can eliminate watering on rainy days and focus on using natural weather resources as an option.
- Consider a xeriscape design landscape package; “xeriscape" landscaping essentially refers to creating a landscape design that has been carefully tailored to withstand drought conditions.
2) Healthy Living:
- When selecting carpet consider carpet that contains the green label certification; carpet that contains the green label assures purchasers that the product has been manufactured with the lowest emitting products on the market.
- Use Low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) paints, stains and varnishes, maximum VOC 250 grams/liter; using products with low VOC insures the solvent used uses water as the carrier rather than petroleum based chemicals. Water based solvents are less toxic and contain low levels of metal.
- Use urea formaldehyde free products; This glue can be found in most homes, primarily used as an adhesive in pressed wood products such as particleboard, plywood, MDF board and laminating adhesives.
- Try installing air filters with a minimum MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating of 8; this synthetic electrostatically charged filtration media attracts airborne containments from circulating into the house cooling/heating system.
3) Energy Efficiency:
- Install Energy Star ® lighting and appliances; energy star qualified appliances incorporate advanced technologies that use 10-50 % less energy and water than standard models.
- Energy efficient lighting; efficient lighting can be as simple as using CFL and LED type of light bulbs. The total use of CFL and LED bulbs typically are a 1/2 of regular bulbs, which can lead to energy and cost savings.
- Look for new construction to exceed current energy standards by 15%; 3rd party software such as REM/rate and RES/check are available to see that your house design does meet this 15% standard. For more information, visit www.energycodes.gov.
- Install programmable thermostats: the user determines the temperature and time of day settings so that optimal efficiency is attained while maintaining comfort levels.
- Make use of natural light; day lighting areas within the house reduces the need of using electrical lighting to provide the same use. Examples of this can be achieved by installing skylights and leaving window coverings off during the day.
- Laundry rooms can be provided with a permanent drying rack for passive drying.
- Consider installing a home solar electric power system (Photo Voltaic). PV systems are an innovative way of using nonpolluting, “free” electric power from the sun. For more information, visit www.eere.energy.gov
4) Site Management/Building Orientation:
- Design with minimum impact on site topography and natural drainage ways; this allows for site improvements to minimize the impact on natural features such as drainage and vegetation; balance cuts and fills to minimize energy to haul material into or out of the site.
- Longest building dimension to face south with the common living spaces facing south or within 15 degrees to take advantage of solar panels on the roof; provide proper shading with calculated roof overhangs (24” or greater), trellis or perforated material in order to allow sunshine into the interior during winter months and obstruct sunshine during summer months. Limit windows on east and especially the west side of the house due to radiation from the sun that is difficult to shade.
- Exposed paving to be light colored with a light reflectance value of at least 30% this will reduce heat island effects. Construct paving of permeable materials such as sand set bricks and pavers, pervious pavement/concrete or other manufactured products to minimize rain run-off.
5) Structural & Building Elements:
- Use building components that reduce heating and cooling loads such as SIPs (structural insulated panels), ICFs (insulated concrete forms), ISPs (insulated sandwich panels), AAC blocks (autoclaved aerated concrete), and integral insulated masonry. These products have high R insulation values.
- Instead of sawn lumber use metal, engineered lumber, recycled content materials or lumber that is certified by the Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) to protect old growth forests, soil erosion, water quality and clear cutting practices.
- Use low-toxic materials with no urea-formaldehyde resin for all sub-floor, roof and wall sheathing to increase indoor air quality.
- Use locally or regionally produced materials which boost the local economy and reduce transportation costs and environmental strain.
For more information on Green Building, please call 623-773-7225.