Green Homes

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Green Home is the term used to describe residences that are built and maintained keeping in mind the environment, ecology and energy conservation and health of the residents.
Paving, an eco-friendly alternative to lawns

It is no longer in the realms of being a fashion statement or a fad but is becoming an established building rule, especially in the developed nations. The developing countries are still a little behind but information is being passed.


Contents

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Ten Lords a leaping - or TEN small ways to go green
  • The energy used in US homes accounts for 20 percent of all US greenhouse gas emissions.
  • A normal PC uses about 70 watts when switched on.
  • If 7 bulbs out of every 10 in households in Denmark were replaced with electricity saving bulbs, this would reduce CO2 emissions by 280 000 tons every year?
  • By 2015 all new housing in Britain is supposed to be carbon zero.
  • Go for bamboo flooring. Bamboo flooring is stronger and harder than any other type of wood flooring.
  • Use green furniture ad eco-friedly floors.
  • Use green cleaners to improve your indoor air quality.
  • Reduce your carbon footprint and go for green commute and green driving.
  • From birth to toilet training each child uses approximately 5,300 disposable nappies.

All about green homes

The crux of a green home lies in five core ideas.

  • Using the correct environment friendly materials for building and maintaining the house.
  • Making sure there is optimum waste reduction and using sustainable products in design and construction.
  • The correct design that incorporates every possible renewable energy sources be it wind, solar, Geothermal or others. Maximising natural light is another strategy that green homes use.
  • Creating a healthy internal environment that includes choosing products that are eco-friendly and healthy.
  • Providing for efficient use of water, both within and without

There are doubts in some people that when it comes to green buildings, it is a case of all or nothing; that if they start building green it must be taken all the, covering all details. It does not have to be so.

Why should I be aware of this?

Its plain logic. The world we live in is rapidly being exposed to every conceivable form of pollution and exploitation. Depleting resources, global warming, climate change are not mere phrases anymore but an imminent threat. All individuals have to take steps to do whatever they can, within their scope and purview, to make some positive contributions. The way we live and the choices we make in every aspect of our lives, has an effect on the planets safety, ecosystem and the survival of humans and all other species. The concept of Green home is an extension of this thinking.

Hundreds of studies have conclusively proved that there is also a significant financial advantage of green buildings, both residential and commercial, from reduced construction costs to lower operating costs. There have also been studies that show employers with green buildings experience significant workforce benefits, including better employee attraction and retention, lower absenteeism and improved productivity.

And of course, the benefit on human health is but obvious.

The Green design

Broadly speaking, a green design has to take into consideration location, materials and construction. It should include -

  • The actual design, cost factor and the relation between the two
  • The use of easily verifiable standards that can be certified
  • Building techniques that incorporate an integrated and holistic design that takes multiple factors within its purview.
  • Selection of suitable location and direction that can minimize the cost and ease the construction process
  • The correct landscaping and land development
  • The right methods of water collection and conservation
  • The need for natural renewable energy sources and using its advantage while designing and constructing water efficient and energy efficient appliances and materials.
  • Eco friendly ways for heating, cooling, ventilation and outdoor emissions

A green design has to take into consideration the energy present in the building materials themselves and in their transportation and assembling and it has to keep in mind the energy which will be required to keep its inhabitants comfortable. Of course, a complete green design takes into account many other facts and points but despite popular belief, green designs are not expensive to implement. With developed technology there are a number of low cost alternatives and strategies that can be implemented to keep the costs low and reasonable.

Green building Resources

In most green buildings, many products and material are used that though themselves are not green but are used in a eco friendly manner that result in a positive impact on the environment. This calls for [[sustainable architecture]. For example, one may be building windows from a material, which on its own merit not be green but the way it is used can increase the sunlight capacity in the house in the winters and reverse it in summers.

Thus creating a green building means matching the products and materials to the specific design and site to minimize the overall environmental impact. There are a lot of doubts in people about the green materials being more expensive or not easily available. While this may be partially true, it has been sufficiently proved that in the long run, using them not only helps the environment and health but also helps reduce the operational costs.

A few points to remember –

  • Use Materials and products made from Salvaged, Recycled, or Agricultural Waste Content.
  • Use products that conserve natural resources.
  • Make sure that the resources that one use is not toxic and do not give emissions.
  • Use products that save energy or water.
  • Design and construct keeping in mind the products that contribute to a safe and healthy environment.

Green interiors

One cannot get rid of every health risk in the environment but with a little care, one can make the home a much safer place and one that produces less waste, conserves energy and protects the environment. Even small steps as keeping household plants, making better use of natural light and recycling household wastes can make an important contribution

Other things include having natural fiber carpet to reduce positive ion build-up and reduce fire risk. Planting small leaf deciduous tree at strategic spots can reduce energy costs and they also act as natural air conditioning. They also increase the available supply of oxygen, help reduce noise and trap dust. A dustbin for organic kitchen waste cuts down the amount of household rubbish. Dig the contents into a compost heap for enriching garden soil.

Greener cleaners

Some simple ingredients can be used to make safe and inexpensive household cleaners. Soap and water is the most useful and can replace many special purpose cleaners.

  • Washing up liquid- Put small slivers of hand soap in a warmed jam jar, cover with boiling water and let them dissolve. Use the mixture for washing up. One can add a tablespoon of washing soda or vinegar for greasy dishes.
  • Washing powder- Use equal quantities of soap flakes and washing soda. A few tablespoons of washing soda also makes commercial biodegradable washing powders work better.
  • Mirrors and tiles - Use equal quantities of white vinegar and water. Mix and use for wiping off splash marks.
  • Fabric Softener- Combine one part bicarbonate of soda, one part white vinegar and two parts water. Use as you would a commercial softener.
  • Air freshener- Good ventilation is best. Can use fresh flowers, herbs, potpourri or essential oils.

Green ways to deal with home pests

Some safe and simple insecticides can be made at home

  • Ants- To deter ants, block up visible holes, then sprinkle dried mint, chilli powder and borax where they are coming in. Keep out of children’s reach.
  • Cockroaches- Food can be contaminated by the droppings of cockroaches. To deter them, put down a mixture of cocoa powder, borax and flour; icing sugar and sodium bicarbonate; plaster of Paris and flour.
  • Flies- Bacteria are spread by flies. Make bunches of bay, mint, and eucalyptus leaves, or crush them and sew into cheesecloth bags with some cloves and a few drops of citrus or eucalyptus oil. Hang them in windows or doorways to deter flies.
  • Moths- The destruction that moths cause to fabrics is not a health hazard but mothballs are. Put sachets of lavender, camphor, rosemary, peppercorns or cedar chips in drawers and wardrobes.

Green Gardens

Having an organic and green vegetable garden is an important part of a green home. It not only helps the environment but also helps inculcate good food habits. Growing edible flowers, herbs, vegetables, and fruits provides the benefit of gardening and also teaches about the merits of consuming fresh food. Some tips for organic gardening are-

  • Make a list of all the herbs and vegetables that you want to grow, keeping in mind the space available.
  • Most herbs can grow in pots and placed outside the kitchen
  • Use larger pots for fruit trees, if there is no space in the garden
  • Organic compost can be prepared from kitchen wastes so use them instead of fertilizers.
  • Use mulch instead of water. Mulch is also ideal for ground beetles to thrive, which attacks other pests.
  • Keep the garden to a manageable size.
  • Make provisions for birds in your garden. They will eat the pests.
  • Use shredded untreated wood and leaf wastes converted into chips as mulch on garden beds. This helps prevent weed growth, retains moisture, regulates soil temperature, and adds nutrients back to the soil.

Other Tips

  • Fix all leaks in the faucets and pipes. Even a small drip can add up to a lot of water over time and Install low-flow showerheads, faucets, and toilets, which reduce, water consumption.
  • Try and use flooring products made from rapidly renewable resources, such as bamboo. Bamboo is one of the fasted growing plants in the world, requiring no replanting and little fertilization or pesticides.
  • Reduce the waste production by making a conscious choice of products that are biodegradable or recyclable.
  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs.
  • Insulate the electric hot water heater and pipes.
  • Avoid using cars or car pool, walk, cycle or use public transportation whenever possible.
  • Try and buy locally for not only is it good for the local economy but also saves energy because products haven’t traveled across the globe to get to you.
  • Avoid the use of polyvinyl chloride (also known as PVC or vinyl) in your home. The entire life cycle of products made from PVC pollutes the environment and your home. PVC items include shower curtains, flooring and even some children’s toys.
  • Buy Ozone friendly products and avoid the use of aerosols.
  • Use castor or mineral oils to lubricate switches and hinges instead of lubricants containing solvents.
  • Choose water based latex paints over solvent-based paints when painting your home. And completely avoid lead based paints.
  • Use less of the energy sources and goods that produce carbon dioxide in their generation, manufacture or use.
  • Take your own bags to the grocery store. If you take plastic bags, use them until they are worn out.
  • Avoid excess packaging.

Constructing a Green home is not complicated but all about using common sense and working with new developed technology and fundamentals and above all having a strong will to keep the environment and yourself healthy.

References

  • Supply-Side Solutions for Green Buildings
  • Green Home Renovation
  • Energy Efficient Green Home Tips
  • Awareness Raising

Additional Information

  • For more information on design and construction, visit Green Building Information

See Also