By Kasen Seaver on Jan 19, 2009

The Future of Eco-Friendly Home Design

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There are plenty of changes occurring in the homebuilding industry, and even if you aren’t planning on moving anytime soon, it pays (literally) to know what changes are in store for when you finally make that decision.

On the forefront of these changes are eco-friendly improvements and practices. In fact, the National Association of Home Builders estimates that almost 50 percent of homes built in 2010 will be green.

“LEED”ing the Way

Consider moving to one of the more than 200 pilot projects across 39 states that are part of LEED for Neighborhood Development. These projects incorporate smart growth and eco-conscious design into each urban community. What does this mean for you?

the first home in the country to be “given ‘platinum’ status in the U.S. Green Building Council's influential LEED rating system (for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design),” and 2. it’s the prototype for LivingHomes, a builder of prefabricated homes. (In fact, the “bulk of the house was built at a factory in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., and assembled in one day.”

The first home in the country to be given LEED Platinum status, the house is also the prototype for LivingHomes, a prefabricated home builder. In fact, the “bulk of the house was built at a factory in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., and assembled in one day.” - Socketsite.com

Living in a LEED-certified development means residents inhabit mixed use spaces with access to a variety of housing types, from multi-unit to single family residences, public green spaces and a system of networked roadways that are pedestrian, cyclist and public transit friendly. As a member of this community, you not only combat urban sprawl, which strains already limited resources and natural animal habitats, but also decrease greenhouse gas emissions by cutting back on the use of your automobile with daily amenities located in the neighborhood.

Not convinced that living a LEED neighborhood is your style? LEED homes that are designed and constructed based on green principles, helping you live in a healthier environment with lower water and energy bills. Translation: they save you money in the long run.

It’s a Material World

You would probably be surprised at how creative we’ve become with materials for green home construction. For example, the foundation of homes can be made with Styrofoam blocks, and insulation can come from recycled paper or denim scraps instead of toxic fiberglass.

Interiors have earth-friendly options as well. For example, Eco-Kitchens Online sells countertops made from recycled yogurt containers, coffee cups or bamboo. According to your tastes, an eco-friendly, low-VOC paint or wax can be applied as well.

Energy Stars

Reducing energy usage is one of the easiest ways to lower bills in a green home, and although solar panels and geothermal heat are great options, here are some relatively low-cost ways to achieve that goal.

  1. Purchase Energy Star electronics and appliances.
  2. Use automatic light switches that use infrared and ultrasonic technologies.
  3. A multi-zone HVAC unit segregates temperatures in various zones of the home.
  4. Advanced programmable thermostats allow you to use a phone to set temperatures in your home for different days and times. Some models may also tell you when to change the air filter.
  5. Development of an Automatic Metering Infrastructure (AMI) with smart metering from utility companies will allow users to log in remotely to adjust energy usage associated with heating, cooling, lighting and appliances.

Slow the Flow

Green homes make an efficient use of water, an increasingly limited resource. With methods involving collection of graywater for reuse in non-drinking areas of the home, harvesting rainwater to use as irrigation and installing efficient fixtures such as low-flow shower heads and dual-flush toilets, homes can drastically reduce their water consumption. One cool new product is Eco-Click by Hudson Reed, a faucet that clicks when you are using 50 percent of the available water flow. A second click gives you full capacity.

With the eco-conscious movement in full-force, there is no shortage of options when building or remodeling, and technologies will only get better. The future is green (and bright).

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      Comments

      1. says

        Gather rain water, use gray water to flush black water, if possible invest in onsite management of waste(through reeds, and sand and some other things), reclaimed materials, wool is one of the best insulators: it does not burn but melts, it still maintains insulative properties when wet and when treated with boric acid(hmm) will deter animal activity that would eat away at it.
        Geothermal offers some of the best opportunity for energy generation, it is time to scale the communities on a sustainable level and have localized production in a local scale using such technology
        Where the house is and the plants and terrain will affect heating, cooling, and lighting
        Which is more costly: lighting or temperature control?
        When they become affordable, OLED’s are likely to offer reduced electricity use, long life, flexible design, and full spectrum lighting –helpful for sensitivities present in birds and other animals(even you)
        http://i.gizmodo.com/5134222/5000-paper-house-is-the-worlds-swankiest-hobo-pad

      2. says

        Nice article! We need to be earth-friendly!

        It is important to support environmentally friendly accommodation!

        By the way, we are working on NaturCert+, which is our very own blog where we share our news and articles, and where visitors have the opportunity to share their activities and ideas with the rest of the world.

        Our aim for NaturCert+, is to develop a public platform that will address a variety of issues related to responsible and/or sustainable travel & tourism and become a daily reading resource for a broad spectrum of visitors.

        We aim to give the opportunity to bloggers to contribute and share their content relevant to responsible and/or sustainable travel & tourism on our blog and gain new readers and followers, more visibility and publicity, as well as better promotion while generating added value for the submitted content.

        Please contact us on plus@naturcert.com if you are interested.

      3. says

        Green maybe most popular word today and beyond. itsnice point to make our earth healthy. Important point of article above is reuse product. So, machine or something which can recycle our trash is has to be supported to make our lliving space become eco friendly.

      4. says

        Toilets account for approx. 30% of water used indoors. By installing a Dual Flush toilet you can save between 40% and 70% of drinking water being flushed down the toilet, depending how old the toilet is you are going to replace.
        If you are serious about saving water, want a toilet that really works and is affordable, I would highly recommend a Caroma Dual Flush toilet. Caroma toilets offer a patented dual flush technology consisting of a 0.8 Gal flush for liquid waste and a 1.6 Gal flush for solids. On an average of 5 uses a day (4 liquid/ 1 solid) a Caroma Dual Flush toilet uses an average of 0.96 gallons per flush. The new Sydney Smart uses only 1.28 and 0.8 gpf, that is an average of 0.89 gallons per flush. This is the lowest water consumption of any toilet available in the US. Caroma, an Australian company set the standard by giving the world its first successful two button dual flush system in the nineteen eighties and has since perfected the technology. Also, with a full 3.5″ trapway, these toilets virtually never clog. All of Caroma’s toilets are on the list of WaterSense labeled HET’s http://www.epa.gov/watersense/pp/find_het.htm that qualify for several toilet rebate programs available in the US as well as the most LEED points available under WE 3.2 (NC). Please visit my blog http://pottygirl.wordpress.com/2008/08/01/what-you-should-know-about-toilets/ to learn more or go to http://www.caromausa.com to learn where you can find Caroma toilets locally. Visit http://www.ecotransitions.com/howto.asp to see how we flush potatoes with 0.8 gallons of water, meant for liquids only. Best regards, Andrea Paulinelli, owner ecoTransitions Inc.

      5. says

        Suscint, and right on target. As a builder Green Certified Bungalows, reducing down to
        simple, understandable language what it means to live sustainably is valuable information.
        It’s interesting as a builder, that by doing the “right” thing is really doing the “green” thing.
        I have employed most of the Kasen’s ideas in my recently completed home and they
        absolutely work. I am finding virtually every potential client requesting advanced building
        stategies in their next home. The time is now and the techology is only getting more affordable
        and available. Keep up the good work Kasen.
        Devin

      6. Klaus says

        ECO_friendly is a great idea/choice and, being from Europe, seeing that the USA is finally embracing the whole idea of RRR is fantastic. The main problem that I find is availabity of the products (and knowledge) at the local mainstream home renovating chains like Lowe’s and Home Depot. Let’s face it, if it is not available there, most people will not take the extra effort to find it. The other problem is cost and knowledge of subcontractors to install, let’s say a solar system to harvest the sunlight, which here in Georgia would be great.
        On the upside, there are light tubes now available at the major chains to get daylight into your house instead of using light fixtures, they are awsome, great light, no cost for electricity!

        Keep it up.

      7. Mike Trieschmann says

        BEING GREEN IN A BLUE MARKET. Unfortunately when times get tough and the worlds issues seem uncertain we begin to realize our postion or should. Being an energy consultant and green designer/builder I am confronted with homeowners concerns. I try to say Reduce-Reuse-Recycle-Recapture, is doing your part now tell your friends and family. Someday buying “NEW” will seem out of place. Once the national media gets it, the remaining will follow or should.
        Thanks Kasen for your insite.
        Mike

      8. says

        Starting at home is the best way to get involved in saving the environment. Princetongreen.org is now offering a power factor optimization(called the KEC) for you home and business. It will reduce your use of electricity (which decreases your carbon footprint on the environment) and also will save you 10-25% of your yearly electric bill. Check out princetongreen.org and you’ll see a variety of solutions to make your home eco-friendly.

      9. Angela says

        I need to replace my roof and would like to use something more “environment friendly.” However, living in Oklahoma, I cannot seem to find anyone that sells rubber shingles. Any help would be appreciated.

      10. Alex says

        What about double framed walls, much like a thermos. Have the outside wall built normally, using 6-8 inches of insulation, then frame a second 2×4 wall 8-12 inches back and insulate this as well. the effect would be similar to that of a thermos design, leaving an air pocket. Do the same for the ceiling, and between (in the air gap) run your HVAC system (insulated of course). This Vastly reduces heat loss and will cut down on both heating and A/C costs. The home with this set-up likes to remain around 65-70 degrees, so the use of heat and A/C would be kept to a minimal. Install a 90+% natural gas furnace, and high SER rated Heat Pump, add flourcent bullbs, or even a 12-24 volt lighting using LED’s and you are set!

      11. Lovella says

        My husband and I are planning to build a house in our 300 sq.m. land. I’m residing in Zamboanga City Philippines. We planned to have a house that is made from recycled materials. Do you have suppliers in the Philippines for those LEED houses?

      12. says

        Benefits of Geothermal Heat Pumps

        The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have both endorsed geothermal heat pump systems as among the most energy efficient, environmentally clean, and cost effective systems for temperature control. Homeowners can expect to enjoy a comfortable, reliable, and economical system while also reducing energy use and pollution.

        Ground source heat pumps provide heating, air conditioning, and, if so equipped, supply the house with hot water. They are smaller than a traditional heating/cooling unit and can easily be retrofitted into any home. The mechanical components are safely located underground or within the home – which eliminates fears of vandalism or theft. With extreme durability the parts can last a generation and require very little maintenance. These systems do not have fans, so instead of hearing and feeling blasts of air, you will enjoy a quiet, consistent temperature throughout the day. Geothermal heat pumps can even improve your health and reduce allergies because they excel at humidity control, thus there is a reduced chance for mold and mildew growth.

        In addition to being practical and providing a luxurious atmosphere, geothermal heat pumps are exceptionally good for the environment and extremely safe. These systems do not have on-site emissions or flammable materials. By eliminating any combustion you do not have to worry about fumes, odors, or carbon monoxide in your home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, if just 100,000 homes converted to a geothermal heating and cooling system, carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced by 880 million pounds. Currently, atmospheric CO2 is 30% higher than it was 200 years ago and if not reduced can cause serious detrimental global impacts. Geothermal technology offers a wonderful solution to lowering these greenhouse gases.

        There has never been a better time to invest in a geothermal heat pump system. Contrary to popular belief, geothermal units are surprisingly affordable and save you more and more money over time. While investing in a geothermal unit is initially more expensive than a traditional system, the annual savings on energy bills more than compensates for the initial output and you can usually expect full payback in three to five years. With efficiency ratings at least three times higher than other heating and cooling systems it is estimated that you can save between 30 to 70% on heating and cooling costs. Also, recent Congressional legislation has provided a 30% tax credit for the installed cost of a residential heat pump system, no cap.

        When you consider the durability, comfort, cleanliness, and energy savings it is obvious why the government has endorsed them as the best systems for temperature control!

        http://www.geothermalexperts.net

      13. says

        as a seattle architect, we know that one needs to do more than install dual-flush toilets these days to make a “splash”. its great to see buildings going for and getting LEED Platinum sustainability ratings. Our architecture firm in bainbridge island WA, specializes in green building design and we are working now on a platinum residence, so i can totally relate to how challenging it is. silver is one thing….platinum is another. Kudos!

      14. Kyle Pemberton says

        I have the same question as chu, but i live in arkansas and i was wondering how accessible materials and the cost of them would be for me to do a “green” or a “leeds” type home?

      15. Matt Williamson says

        I am recently joining the eco band wagon. Running a remodel and room addition company for several years, i have never paid much attention to what i was doing to the environment. Dumpster after dumpster i was adding to the problem. Recently in the midwest we had a major cold snap. 400$ electric bill are you kidding me. Whoever invinted the heat pump should be shot. Needless to say i am planning a new home now. Radiant heat, solar panels to cover atleast 25% of the electricity, cistern system for sprinklers, tankless water heater, metal roof….. If anyone has anyhing to add i would appreciate it very much. Matt

      16. Amy says

        Hi – I’m also based in the Philippines. I’m looking for eco-friendly contractors/suppliers to build a restaurant in Makati. Does anyone have any suggestions?

      17. jay says

        hi, am from philippines planning to have my own house with green house concept, please anyone can recommend an architect to design or do the plannings with affordable price for making the design. thanks a lot pls. email me @ hurd8myn@yahoo.com

      18. Laurie Sims says

        Great post. I echo that the future of eco-friendly home design would also include allowing for “green” interior furnishings, like some of the interior options you mentioned. If you look hard enough, you can find green options for every room in your house. I own a company that sells organic and latex mattresses, so it’s not a furnishing that would necessarily require design consideration. But it’s one of those green options that can nicely accompany a solidly designed eco-friendly home.

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