Building Greener Homes
After our recent affordable green housing project post, several readers expressed an interest in learning more about the details. You might be surprised to learn that the elements of an affordable green home are really not all that mysterious. In fact, many of them are already becoming common practice because they just make sense. I would have to say, that the biggest advantage to any green home building project is that it gives everyone involved an opportunity to evaluate new technologies and practices. This leads to the discovery of smarter construction methods, more efficient and affordable homes and reduces the impact on the environment.
The planning process is the single most important element of an affordable green home project. Creating detailed builder specifications makes the process much easier. Because of the advances in home construction and system technologies, it is constantly becoming easier to implement green elements. Thorough research in the planning stage gives the home builder valuable information that makes the implementation much easier.
According to Monte Stock, the architect of the project in Kahoka, Missouri, “How astonishing it was that project was able to meet the requirements of building to National Green Building Standard without being complex or a big hurdle.”
Monte and I agree that the upfront work that went into the plans and specifications helped to attract a builder that could really do the job well and establish a great working relationship. There were three general areas that were the focus of this recent project. Sustainable Planning, Green Design and Building Techniques and Owner/Tenant Education and Documentation. Below you will find some examples of the elements of each of these general areas. The planning process focused on 3 goals:
- Incorporate sustainable or “green” and energy efficient design, building and materials
- Reduce operating, utility and maintenance costs
- Designed and built to meet the Bronze level of the National Green Building Standard™ under the “Green Building” path.
Green Design and Building Techniques
Optimizing Site Orientation and Placement of Building Components
- Extended roof overhangs to protect from sun and moisture
- Infill lots used
- Landscaping – Drought resistant trees and plantings
- House size under 1500 square feet
- Roof trusses used
- Building components that require no additional site finishes – windows, siding, gutters, porch railings and columns
- Covered front and rear entries (ample porches provide shade and water protection)
- Water resistant exterior barrier – “house wrap”
- Building Envelope Well Sealed and Insulated
- Efficient Heating, Ventilation and Cooling Systems
- Appliances, lighting fixtures, and ceiling fans that have received Energy Star™ certification.
- Plumbing fixtures and toilets are WaterSense™ certified or provide low-flow/low water usage.
- No irrigation system needed for outdoor landscaping
Indoor Air Quality
- Controlling the entry of pollutants, especially VOCs with choices of low VOC paints, adhesives and flooring choices
- Ventilating with exhausts in kitchen and baths to move pollutants and moisture out of the home.
- Managing moisture in the build and operation of the home.
- No garage. Reducing exposure to harmful exhaust.