4 Approaches to Building Green Homes

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Green jobs building construction

Many houses don’t have the protection necessary to make them energy-efficient. Instead, they leak energy from every crack, forcing owners to spend more money on fuel while contributing to environmental troubles. Some architects, however, have approached design from a different perspective that helps buildings use as little energy as possible without creating uncomfortable interiors. Consider these four approaches green home designs  and see how your home compares.

#1: Passivhaus Designs

Passivhaus, also called passive house, designs use several features to lower a home’s energy use. Ideally, the home gets most of its heating and cooling directly from the environment instead of creating its own warm and cold air. Superinsulation, for instance, keeps the interior and exterior environments separate, allowing very little exchange between them.

Other features used to build passive houses include:

  • airtight seals
  • positioning the home so that it receives warmth directly from the sun
  • using trees to shade the home from direct sunlight
  • insulated window panes
  • passive natural insulation
Passivhaus_Darmstadt_Kranichstein_Fruehling_2006

The first Passivhaus residences were built in Darmstadt, Germany in 1990, and occupied by the clients the following year. (image: Passivhaus Institut)

All of these features work together to create a dynamic system that responds to the natural environment and uses little fossil fuels or electricity.

#2: Modular Housing

Some modular home manufacturers have started making green designs that could help new home buyers afford environmentally friendly buildings.

These green modular homes use a variety of systems to reduce resource use. The homes typically have:

  • CFL lights
  • high-performance insulation
  • sustainable building materials
  • rain water systems

Since manufacturers build these homes off-site and install them on the owner’s land, companies have a lot of control over how the finished home operates. The companies can intentionally build affordable houses with green features.

Some modular home companies use locally harvested and recycled materials to build their houses. This reduces building waste and the amount of energy needed to produce the materials.

#3: Green Roofs

It takes more than paint to make a green roof. Architects have to plan buildings that withstand the extra weight of green roofs, and the drainage requirements too. It might take more effort, but it yields big results.

Vancouver Convention Center Green Roof

The green roof at the Vancouver Convention center.

Some of the benefits of green roofs and rooftop gardens include:

  • better outdoor air quality
  • lower energy consumption
  • increased biodiversity
  • less flooding
  • reduced intensity for hot spots (urban areas that experience increased temperatures while surrounding areas enjoy cooler temperatures)

#4: Passive Solar Homes

Passive solar home designs force architects to think outside the house. They have to think about how the sun strikes the windows and whether trees will block any light. They have to think about how the roof’s size might block sunlight and how the home’s exterior color could deflect heat during hot summer months.

Simply placing the home in the right place, pointing in the right direction could reduce the amount of energy it needs to keep inhabitants comfortable.

What else?

Do you know of other designs that can make homes greener? What about small projects that can help reduce the amount of resources that people use in their current homes?

Tell us your thoughts in the comments section.

Cheers,

Rob.

 

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Rob Jones

Rob served as Editor-In-Chief of BuildDirect Blog: Life At Home from 2007-2016. He is a writer, Dad, content strategist, and music fan.