Elements of Sustainable or Green Homes
– Protect and retain existing landscaping and natural features. Select plants that have low water and pesticide needs, and generate minimum plant trimmings. Use compost and mulches. This will save water and time.
– Recycled content paving materials, furnishings, and mulches help close the recycling loop.
Most homes can reach energy efficiency levels far beyond regulatory standards, yet most only strive to meet the minimum. It’s reasonable to strive for 40 percent less energy use than mandated by law. The following strategies can contribute to achieving this goal:
– Passive design strategies can dramatically affect a homes energy performance. These measures include home shape and orientation, passive solar design, and the use of natural lighting.
– Develop strategies to provide natural lighting. Studies have shown that it has a positive impact well being.
– Task lighting reduces general overhead light levels.
– Use a properly sized and energy-efficient heat/cooling system in conjunction with thermally efficient walls, roofs and floors.
– Maximize light colors for roofing and wall finish materials; install high value wall and ceiling insulation; and use minimal glass on east and west exposures.
– Consider alternative and renewable energy sources.
– Select sustainable construction materials and products by evaluating several characteristics such as reused and recycled content, zero or low off gassing of harmful air emissions, zero or low toxicity, sustainably harvested materials, high recyclability, durability, longevity, and local production. Such products promote resource conservation and efficiency.
– Reuse and recycle construction and demolition materials.
– Design for dual plumbing to use recycled water for toilet flushing or a gray water system that recovers rainwater or other nonpotable water for site irrigation.
– Minimize wastewater by using ultra low-flush toilets, low-flow shower heads, and other water conserving fixtures.
– Use recirculating systems for centralized hot water distribution.
– Install point-of-use tankless hot water heating systems.
– Use micro-irrigation (which excludes sprinklers and high-pressure sprayers) to supply water in non turf areas.
– Use state-of-the-art irrigation controllers and self-closing nozzles on hoses.
Homes with good overall environmental quality can reduce the rate of respiratory disease, allergy, asthma and other sick building symptoms. Choose construction materials and interior finish products with zero or low emissions to improve indoor air quality. Many building materials and cleaning/maintenance products emit toxic gases, such as volatile organic compounds (VOC) and formaldehyde. These gases can have a detrimental impact on human and pet health. Provide adequate ventilation and a high-efficiency, in-duct filtration system. Heating and cooling systems that ensure adequate ventilation and proper filtration can have a dramatic and positive impact on indoor air quality. Prevent indoor microbial contamination through selection of materials resistant to microbial growth, provide effective drainage from the roof and surrounding landscape, install adequate ventilation in bathrooms, allow proper drainage of air-conditioning coils, and design other building systems to control humidity.