Healthy and Earth-conscious
• With so much focus on creating a more eco-friendly living environment, more and more homeowners building a new home are considering green house design for a healthier lifestyle and to protect Earlth’s precious natural resources. There has been a dramatic increase in new materials and products available for green building: natural, specialized building materials for a healthier indoor environment, in-step with Environmental Protection Agency EPA rating and guidelines, with the added bonus of helping homeowners save a considerable amount of money in energy costs.
Building a green house
A green house is sustainable, durable, environmentally friendly and built with non-toxic materials that reduce indoor air pollution. Designed to create an effective building envelope, it is a tightly sealed structure with controlled ventilation and cost effective heating and cooling.
A green house helps conserve energy and has high levels of RRD: renew-ability, reusability and durability with less negative indoor and outdoor environment impact, using the following five basic principles:
- Optimized use of the sun – whether active or passive solar energy.
- Improvement of indoor air quality.
- Responsible use of land.
- High performance, moisture-resistant housing.
- Wise natural resource management of the Earth’s offerings.
Other aspects of a green, energy efficient home include:
- Minimal construction waste.
- Design and orientation to minimize solar loss in winter; solar gain in the summer.
- Sloped roof for solar energy panel installation creating natural light and heat.
- Eco-friendly building materials such as a structural insulated panel system that is resistant to mold and borate pressure-treated wood, resistant to fungal decay and termite damage.
- Floors such as a bamboo wood floor – bamboo is 27% harder than northern red oak, durable and fast growing. Bamboo floors are naturally mildew, insect and water resistant. Cork – a surprising but excellent choice – is hypo-allergenic and fire resistant providing thermal and acoustic insulation, durability and comfort.
There are hundreds of different types of wood floor choices that uphold environmental ethics, such as those from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified forests.
Carpets and rugs
Research by the EPA reveals that levels of indoor pollution can be two to five times greater than they are outside. One major source of indoor pollution is carpeting and rugs. Many conventional carpet and carpet padding options contain plastics made from petroleum. Toxic materials and chemicals – such as mothproofing and products to repel or retard soil and moisture – pose an additional health risk. And new carpet and rug installation can fill the air with volatile organic compounds such as formaldehyde and benzene.
Carpets and rugs are also notorious for trapping toxic lawn chemicals, allergens and other contaminations tracked in from outside, including dust, dirt, pollen and bacteria.
Preserve indoor environmental health and safety by using carpeting made only from recycled and eco-friendly materials. Durable and often less expensive than more conventional choices, these options are a more responsible, healthy way to enhance room decor.
Other eco-friendly, energy efficient choices
Better flooring choices include the aforementioned cork or bamboo, hardwood from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified forests, recycled glass tiles and natural, hypo-allergenic, biodegradable linoleum. There are other interior product options that qualify as green material too; they’re better for the occupants’ health and their pocketbooks while enhancing the home’s eco-friendly design and positively impacting the environment. They include:
- Energy smart appliances such as an energy efficient water heater or refrigerator.
- Lightweight concrete countertops, made from recycled newspaper and fly ash.
- Walls finished with non-toxic, eco-friendly paint.
- Energy efficient lighting and the use of solar energy. In some provinces, a solar energy rebate or solar energy grant might be available.
- Kitchen cabinets and furnishings free of formaldehyde that causes off-gassing, widely used to manufacture building materials and various household products.
- Exhaust fans over the stove to remove carbon monoxide and other gases.
- Bathroom fans and ventilation, reducing the risk of mold and mildew.
- The installation of properly filtered ventilation systems to remove dirt, dust, pollen and other pollutants.
It might also be well worth the expense to hire a building envelope consultant or indoor air quality consultant to assess your home and help find ways to conserve energy and make your home more eco-friendly.
Source: TrustedPros – Helping you find trusted home improvement contractors. www.trustedpros.ca
photo © Fottoo
1 thought on “Eco friendly homes”
The recent changes in modern construction technology have made it possible for home builders to be more eco friendly than ever. The question for many is whether or not they should switch from the tried and true materials to the new eco friendly materials. Changing materials and products means some time spent learning about the new products, figuring out the best practices for uses of these materials and maybe even some added expense or difficulty in getting a hold of those materials. However, most home builders can now easily make the switch to at least a few eco friendly products in their homes. The question is do they want to spend the time familiarizing themselves with the products?
Newer eco friendly materials are also much longer lasting than some other commonly used materials. They can also be lighter, thinner and stronger to use. For instance, it is becoming a trend to use recycled steel beams in homes instead of wood frames. It only takes three old cars to frame an entire home, and saves trees in the process.