As far as climate change is concerned, it’s unfortunate to learn that we are now reaching a point of regret. According to the world’s climate scientists, climate change is becoming a pain we can’t solve if we don’t take appropriate decisions and lifestyle changes soon. While about two-thirds of the American population thinks that solving the climate change crisis should be a number one priority for federal governments, protecting mother nature isn’t a one-person thing. Everyone has a responsibility and must do their part to resolve this issue.
Yet how can you ensure you’re conserving the environment to make the planet more habitable? The solution starts at home. Taking actions that ensure your home and every activity happening there is environmentally friendly is among the best ways to make Earth a better place.
Fortunately, there are simple and complex measures you can put in place to impact climate change in your home. Among these measures is converting or building a green home. What’s a green home, you may ask, and what constitutes it? If you’re yet to understand what a green home is and what it comprises, stay put as we’ll be discussing this in this article.
What’s A Green Home?
A green home is a non-toxic, energy-efficient home with a low carbon footprint in terms of construction and everyday activity once it’s occupied. In simple terms, picture a green home as a home that offers style and the following environmentally friendly features:
- Low-flow drainage
- Water filtration systems
- Energy-efficient appliances, with heating, cooling, and lighting systems
- Sustainable materials
- Solar panels
- Air-tight insulation to minimize energy leaks
- Non-toxic paint and organic furniture, among others
Green homes are designed to promote a refreshing environment for homeowners that helps minimize energy bills. Additionally, green homes are created to support organizations, building standards, and products with no or less harm to the planet.
It’s essential to note that buildings account for 39% of the total carbon emission leading to global warming, which contributes to climate change. Sadly, homes might be a significant contributor to carbon footprints. Given that an average human spends about 90% of their time at home, it’s critical to find ways to ensure that homes aren’t contributing more to global warming.
It’s also vital to ensure that every activity in your home aims to reduce your carbon footprint. Failure to which would only worsen the climate change crisis. Ensuring that your home is environmentally friendly doesn’t only play a huge part in conserving the environment; it also ensures you spend most of your time in a warm and clean environment to uplift your general well-being.
What Makes Green Homes?
There are different thresholds that a home must meet to be certified as a green home. These include:
Energy efficiency is the core of most green home programs. Builders use natural power such as wind, sun, and natural light to power the building when designing. Natural light design helps lower buildings’ electricity requirements while improving builders’ health and productivity. As a result, such buildings require smaller, efficient appliances and lighting.
Mindful window selection and installation of skylights can help light homes. On the other hand, clean energy-powered cooling and heating systems, insulation, and proper air and vapor barrier installation contribute to energy-efficient homes. Nevertheless, using renewable energy like solar or wind to power homes can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of green homes. You may check out Smart Solar Energy and similar companies for professional solar panel installation if you’re looking forward to going green.
Location is the most critical aspect of a home. Most people want their homes near amenities such as schools, places of worship, and shopping malls. However, some won’t mind living in remote areas as long as the neighborhoods allow them to live the lifestyle they want. Such people love unique views and open spaces to enjoy nature.
Nevertheless, as far as green homes are concerned, they’re primarily built close to essential amenities to reduce transportation demand. Unlike what most people might think, most homes built on undeveloped lands such as conservations or forests are not considered green homes because they chew up the green space. Besides, individuals living in such homes require a long walk or drive to grocery shops or other places, resulting in an excessive carbon footprint.
Construction and demolition waste accounts for over one-quarter of the U.S, total non-industrial waste. Massive, bulky construction materials burden the environment due to high-embodied energy and large carbon print.
Green home contractors are fully aware of how such materials can negatively impact the environment and aim to change how homes are constructed. Currently, home builders are looking for ways to reduce materials where necessary and possible, hence they’re looking for the following features in construction materials:
- Locally sourced
- Made using renewable energy
- Has little embodied energy
- Created with rapidly renewable resources
To green contractors and builders, wooden door and window frames manufactured with local wood are far better than aluminum frames manufactured in a fossil fuel-powered factory and shipped overseas. Additionally, building a home from local Earth is preferable to using wood and bricks. In the same spirit, using renewable bamboo is better than using tiles.
Size And Design
A home’s green certification will be based on how it’s built, what it’s built of, and how it operates. A good rule of thumb would be that large homes are less sustainable, and vice versa. This is because larger homes have higher embodied energy and a larger physical footprint. To simplify this point, we can say that it’s nearly impossible for a 5,000 sq. ft. home with the latest upgraded energy system to be more sustainable than a 1,000 sq. ft. home.
Passive homes have environmentally friendly building designs that don’t need unique systems for energy efficiency as they’re already energy-efficient by design. Intelligent design is a solution to solving a problem at the root. Designing and building intelligent homes from the roots equal sound structures.
Green buildings are focused on reducing water usage. This is achieved by using low-flow toilets and wastewater recycling. Water collection solutions, like rainwater harvesting, are also part of green homes.
Installing a home with water-efficient appliances and plumbing fixtures significantly conserves fresh water and reduces utility bills. These appliances range from self-closing or spray taps to low-flow shower heads and low-flush and waterless composting toilets. Moreover, point-of-use water system installation and lagging pipes allow you to save on water heating.
Indoor Air Quality
Poor indoor air can cause various health problems such as irritated eyes and nose, headaches, allergies, and respiratory issues that can interfere with one’s quality of life. Fortunately, materials used in green homes prevent harmful gases from penetrating your home, promoting better health quality. Poorly constructed homes often manifest moisture problems that lead to mold growth and other harmful fungi. In addition, poorly maintained heating and cooling appliances can interfere with your home’s indoor air quality.
Who Certifies A Green Home?
For a home to be termed green, it must be certified by recognized organizations that have developed green home standards. A certificate from any leading organization implies that the home is remodeled and built to the required standards. Here are some commonly recognized green home standards:
- Leader in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED): These standards were developed by the United States Green Building Council. The LEED certification is given when constructing and remodeling commercial buildings, homes, schools, and institutional buildings that meet green building requirements.
- Energy Star: This is another widely recognized standard for green homes. The standards here stipulate that homes must meet specific energy efficiency and water conservation for quality indoor air.
- The National Green Building Standard (NGBS): This standard was developed by the National Association of Homes Builders. It’s the first green building standard to successfully undergo the entire consensus process and obtain approval from the American National Standards Institute.
Benefits of A Green Home
Green homes are the solution to the rising climate change and global warming. They reduce carbon emissions and waste and are energy-efficient. They also conserve water and are built with environmentally friendly materials. Other benefits of green homes include:
- Easy to maintain
- Valuable in resale
- Aren’t dependent on fuel costs as they depend on natural energy
- Free from operating noise because they’re warmer in winter and cooler in summer
- Environmentally friendly in terms of cleanliness because renewable energy doesn’t pollute the air
- Attractive due to large windows for a clear view, open floor plans, and sunny interiors
Developing homes and commercial buildings with little to no environmental impacts benefits everyone and the planet. Green homes are cost-effective for both builders and homeowners. Thus, they are urged to build on already developed land instead of starting projects on new land to conserve the environment.
Therefore, building homes near essential amenities such as roads, shopping centers, and schools is vital to minimize transportation dependency. Furthermore, a green home must meet specific qualifications to earn a green certification. In summary, your home must be energy-efficient, built with recyclable materials and on already developed land, conserve water, and be of a minimum size to be certified as a green home.
- About the Author
Alex Grigoryan is a Professional Home Improvement and Lifestyle Writer. He has been in the industry for over 6 years and has been writing for Chique Home Living since 2019. His work has been featured in prestigious blogs such as Spruce Home, Better Homes & Garden, and more.