GO GREEN! How and Why You Should Be Eco-Friendly When Building a New Home
Go green! No, I’m not cheering for a football team; I’m making a request. In this day and age, “green” is more often used as a noun instead of an adjective. Green is more than just a color; it’s a way of life. We all know what cars are considered “green”, and that solar panels help reduce energy. But what does going “green” really mean when it comes to building a new home or commercial space? And what are the benefits? This article is here to help solve those problems.
Just as psychology has Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, going “green” has its own pyramid to help you achieve the highest level of energy efficiency. The bottom of the pyramid starts with the easy, yet effective, green tools you can use when building. As you go up the pyramid, it becomes more difficult , but the rewards will be greater.
So let’s start at the bottom. If you’re building a new home, you can consider the layout of your home. Well-designed houses take advantage of light energy. Using southern facing exposures can let you take advantage of the free energy from the sun. Also consider the size of your home or addition. For example, doubling a houses size triples its annual energy usage over a lifetime. So when building, think small and clever, not big and boxy. Reducing the footprint of your home is free and you reap lower energy costs for the remainder of your ownership of the home.
The next level of the pyramid involves upgrades you can make to your home to help make it more energy efficient. The cost of heating or cooling your home is probably your biggest energy expense and upgrading your insulation is a one time investment that will reduce your annual utility bill. There are now many types of insulation on the market from fiberglass to spray foam, cellulose and rigid foam. Here are two good links to help explain each type of insulation and the corresponding R-Factor: Insulation4Less and ColoradoEnergy.
Another easy upgrade, whether new construction or remodeling, is energy efficient windows. At a minimum, windows should include insulated low-e glazings. The frames should be made with materials that are renewable or recyclable. Windows account for up to 25% of the exterior wall of a house, so windows can be a major source of heat loss.
Continuing on the energy efficient improvements, select rated appliances that won’t waste energy. This can be as simple as replacing a light bulb, or upgrading your major appliances to more energy efficient models. Also consider lowering your water flow. Water conservation is a growing concern, so consider using low water use toilets and low flow faucets and fixtures.
Continuing to climb the pyramid, involves opting for durability when it comes to making building choices. The longer a material lasts, the easier on the environment and the pocketbook. When considering what roofing materials to use, opt for metal, clay tile, recycled rubber, or extended life (recyclable) asphalt roofing. Side your home with fiber cement, cedar, brick veneer, or other long-lived products. When deciding on flooring, consider using hardwood flooring. It lasts a lifetime, while carpet only lasts for 10 years.
You know you have reached the very top of the “green” pyramid when your home recycles water and uses little or no outside energy. This may include geothermal heating/cooling, solar hot water, a wind turbine and/or photovoltaics.
So now that you know how to go “green”, you may want to know why you should go “green.” For starters, it helps the environment. Whether or not you believe in global warming, the world’s waste is affecting our planet. Building “green” will help reduce this damage. Going “green” not only helps the environment, but it also helps your wallet. Overtime, your energy bills will go way down, reducing the money spent on paying those bills. For example, insulated foundations can save you up to 50% on air conditioning and heating costs.
We hope you will consider “green” alternatives when building a new home or commercial space. Please contact us or call us at 715-369-5700 to let us give you a free quote on hardwood flooring or any other of our quality wood products for your building project.