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?
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.
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.
- Purchase Energy Star electronics and appliances.
- Use automatic light switches that use infrared and ultrasonic technologies.
- A multi-zone HVAC unit segregates temperatures in various zones of the home.
- 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.
- 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).