There are a lot of factors when considering building a “green” home. In Adams’ article “How I Almost Saved the Earth,” he states that the greenest house any one could ever build is a house that is never built. This is true, but to most people this will not be a reasonable way to spend their lives. Therefore, if one wanted to build a house with the least environmental impact to the planet, plenty of planning and research will have to take place in order to achieve this type of house. Aspects Adams’ mentions that should be focused on is what type of climate the house is being built in, finding knowledgeable architects and contractors of green building solutions and local building codes, researching green products, and how much extra money can be put into these green solutions. These main aspects in planning a green home will have the best outcome. Determining what climate that the house is being built in is most important, and mainly effect how any house will built.
Northern climate houses focus on maintaining heat whereas southern climate houses focus on keeping the heat out. With this in mind an eco-friendly furnace would not be necessary in southern climates. Another aspect determined by climate is the windows. As Adams put it, “windows bleed heat,” the less windows the better for maintaining temperature. As for southern climates, having many or big windows on the east and/or west side of the house is not a cost effective way of planning a build. Attic fans can also be determined depending on climate. Attic fans draw in outside air to cool the attic in southern climates, whereas as in northern climates drawing in air is not a feasible way of maintaining heat. Another way of regulating temperature is the material used for the walls inside of the house. Stonework is most efficient, along with a solid foundation. Roofs are a main aspect that needs to be considered with the climate. The most efficient means of a roof in the southern climate would be a white roof because white is the color that produces the most heat reflection from the sun.
Adams mentions a garden roof, which can be a great way to regulate temperature inside the house, but considering the maintenance and the actual cost of this feature is absurd. The way to put all these aspects together is finding knowledgeable help from contractors and architects. It could take some time to find the right people, but will help greatly with experienced knowledge. They will know the current local building codes, knowing which materials that can be used and how they should be used. They will also know whether or not if code requires a radiant barrier. Either way, it should be at the top of the list to be installed. One option Adams mentions for the home is a photovoltaic system. It can be a great way of diminishing the electric bill, in theory, but times have not yet caught up with the technology. Plus, solar panels can be very expensive. Once electric companies can install homes with appropriate meters and the price of home solar photovoltaic systems drop, this option will be a great addition to every home.
All of these aspects will be factored into my plans for a house of my own, mainly due to the reason I’d like to keep my home at a constant cool temperature. Considering my house would be in a southern climate, most aspects I mentioned would be placed in my plans. My house would be compiled mostly of stone for the walls with a think foundation. In my opinion, I like the way stone houses look. I would keep the number of windows to a minimum. Let’s say if I’d like to sleep during the day, it’ll at least be dark and cool. As for the roof, I think ill skip on the white roof and go with a natural green colored aluminum, or copper roof. These metals do not retain a lot heat and will typically last longer than shingled roof. The attic fan and radiant barrier will definitely be installed to help with keep the attic cool. For the rest of the property, landscaping with be structured with materials and plants that require the least maintenance and watering. Sorry, no white-pebbled lawn for me, I’ll stick to my blue grass.
Another feature Adams placed in his house was a system that flows warm water through the entire floor. I can’t see this as being much of a green option. It takes energy to constantly warm the water. I think this as more of a comfort feature. If your floor is cold put some socks on, or buy a rug. I can’t say my house would be entirely green, but I’ll do my best with what I’m able work with. Most of these aspects are, more or less, common-sense but should not be ignored in the planning process. Taking everything into account, it all comes down to how much of the budget can be dedicated to green solutions. Adams states it perfectly, “Realistically, you’ll need to find a middle ground between green design and aesthetics.” If money is no limit and curd appeal is not a factor then someone could have the greenest possibly house, but most people have financial limits and standards on how their house will look. Every part of the property can be taken into account to how green it can be; the lawn, walls, windows, roof, and foundation can be considered for green efficiency.
Courtney from Study Moose
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