Written by Bethany Carter

Busting Green Building Myths

8 GREEN BUILDING MYTHS, BUSTED

Green building — or sustainable building — involves incorporating eco-friendly elements into the design and maintenance of a home and minimizing the impact on the environment when building houses, condos and the like. More homeowners and builders are interested in green building and want to choose energy efficient features for their homes, so it’s important to know what’s fact and what’s myth.

Myth #1: Green homes cost more than other homes.

Sustainable building often requires more expensive building materials, smarter technology and complicated systems than conventional building. But when thinking long-term, green building actually saves money because the materials won’t have to replaced as often. So while initial costs may seem like a lot, green building offers better value when you consider the life-cycle costs. For instance, upgrading to energy efficient windows might cost more up front, but the reduced load on your heating and air conditioning system will help offset that cost over time.

Myth #2: Green homes look weird.

In the early days of green building, builders focused on features that touted self-sufficiency and lower costs, which often detracted from a home’s design or architecture. These days, green homes don’t have to look strange unless you want them to. Virtually any home, regardless of home style, can have sustainable features. Solar shingles, for instance, can be incorporated directly into the building’s structure so they’re virtually invisible.

Image courtesy of GreenBuildingAdvisor.com

Myth #3: You can’t make an existing home green.

Altering your home’s structure and operating systems — foundation, framing, wiring, plumbing — can be very expensive. But “greening” an existing home doesn’t have to be a complete overhaul. Upgrading windows and HVAC equipment, putting more insulation into the walls or attic, sealing air leaks, and installing energy-recovery ventilation equipment are all examples of upgrades that will make a house more energy efficient. Keep sustainable building practices in mind during routine maintenance and repairs, such as wrapping the house with an inch or two of rigid foam insulation before installing new siding.

Myth #4: Green houses can be too insulated or too tight.

Some traditionalists argue that houses need to breathe, and they caution against “too much insulation” and “building too tight.” But in reality, these are the least of our concerns. Most homes have uncontrolled air movement that wastes energy and increases the risk of long-term damage to building components. This can be alleviated by identifying and sealing air leaks and adding insulation. To offset this tightness, homes need mechanical ventilation to ensure that a supply of fresh air is circulated.

Myth #5: You need solar panels to be truly green.

Solar panels were once the universal symbol for green building. But the reality is that sustainable building means integrating a variety of energy efficient solutions that work together — from heating systems to interior finishes. When building green, focus on the house as a whole, not just particular green features like solar panels. Everyone working on the home, from the architect to the HVAC specialist to the electrician, should be involved in the green strategy. After all, will you be getting the most out of your solar hot water collectors and photovoltaic panels if you have leaky windows and poor insulation?

Myth #6: Low-flow toilets don’t work well.

After the federal government limited toilets to 1.6 gallons of water per flush, early models of the low-flow toilet were a flop. Times have changed, and homeowners have more options. Today’s redesigned low-flow models work as well or better than older water-guzzling models. High-efficiency toilets use even less water than standard low-flow models, some as little as 1.1 gallons. Dual-flush toilets, which have separate flush modes for solid and liquid waste, are another water-saving option.

Myth #7: McMansions can be green.

Whether or not a big house is green depends on how the building’s materials and resources are being allocated. For instance, a 10,000-square-foot house built for a family of four can’t be considered green, no matter how many sustainable features it has. But it would be green if 20 people lived in that same house. Lowering consumption is an important benchmark in sustainable building, and that thinking extends to the materials that go into a house as well as the energy that’s required to heat and cool it. The LEED for Homes rating system’s “neutral” size recommendations range from 900 square feet for a one-bedroom house to 2,850 square feet for a five-bedroom house.

Myth #8: “Green” is just a passing fad.

From kitchen cabinets to skylights to siding, consumers are looking for eco-friendly features for their homes, often paying premium prices for the extra value. High energy costs, limited natural resources, awareness of global environmental issues, better understanding of building science and growing health concerns are all contributing to a lasting green movement. The fact is that sustainable houses last longer, have fewer problems, are cheaper to live in and keep people healthier and happier. And who doesn’t want that to last forever.

by Peter Yost of BuildingGreen LLC in association with GreenBuildingAdvisor.com

-HGTVremodels.com

Written by Bethany Carter

Busting Green Building Myths

8 GREEN BUILDING MYTHS, BUSTED

Green building — or sustainable building — involves incorporating eco-friendly elements into the design and maintenance of a home and minimizing the impact on the environment when building houses, condos and the like. More homeowners and builders are interested in green building and want to choose energy efficient features for their homes, so it’s important to know what’s fact and what’s myth.

Myth #1: Green homes cost more than other homes.

Sustainable building often requires more expensive building materials, smarter technology and complicated systems than conventional building. But when thinking long-term, green building actually saves money because the materials won’t have to replaced as often. So while initial costs may seem like a lot, green building offers better value when you consider the life-cycle costs. For instance, upgrading to energy efficient windows might cost more up front, but the reduced load on your heating and air conditioning system will help offset that cost over time.

Myth #2: Green homes look weird.

In the early days of green building, builders focused on features that touted self-sufficiency and lower costs, which often detracted from a home’s design or architecture. These days, green homes don’t have to look strange unless you want them to. Virtually any home, regardless of home style, can have sustainable features. Solar shingles, for instance, can be incorporated directly into the building’s structure so they’re virtually invisible.

Image courtesy of GreenBuildingAdvisor.com

Myth #3: You can’t make an existing home green.

Altering your home’s structure and operating systems — foundation, framing, wiring, plumbing — can be very expensive. But “greening” an existing home doesn’t have to be a complete overhaul. Upgrading windows and HVAC equipment, putting more insulation into the walls or attic, sealing air leaks, and installing energy-recovery ventilation equipment are all examples of upgrades that will make a house more energy efficient. Keep sustainable building practices in mind during routine maintenance and repairs, such as wrapping the house with an inch or two of rigid foam insulation before installing new siding.

Myth #4: Green houses can be too insulated or too tight.

Some traditionalists argue that houses need to breathe, and they caution against “too much insulation” and “building too tight.” But in reality, these are the least of our concerns. Most homes have uncontrolled air movement that wastes energy and increases the risk of long-term damage to building components. This can be alleviated by identifying and sealing air leaks and adding insulation. To offset this tightness, homes need mechanical ventilation to ensure that a supply of fresh air is circulated.

Myth #5: You need solar panels to be truly green.

Solar panels were once the universal symbol for green building. But the reality is that sustainable building means integrating a variety of energy efficient solutions that work together — from heating systems to interior finishes. When building green, focus on the house as a whole, not just particular green features like solar panels. Everyone working on the home, from the architect to the HVAC specialist to the electrician, should be involved in the green strategy. After all, will you be getting the most out of your solar hot water collectors and photovoltaic panels if you have leaky windows and poor insulation?

Myth #6: Low-flow toilets don’t work well.

After the federal government limited toilets to 1.6 gallons of water per flush, early models of the low-flow toilet were a flop. Times have changed, and homeowners have more options. Today’s redesigned low-flow models work as well or better than older water-guzzling models. High-efficiency toilets use even less water than standard low-flow models, some as little as 1.1 gallons. Dual-flush toilets, which have separate flush modes for solid and liquid waste, are another water-saving option.

Myth #7: McMansions can be green.

Whether or not a big house is green depends on how the building’s materials and resources are being allocated. For instance, a 10,000-square-foot house built for a family of four can’t be considered green, no matter how many sustainable features it has. But it would be green if 20 people lived in that same house. Lowering consumption is an important benchmark in sustainable building, and that thinking extends to the materials that go into a house as well as the energy that’s required to heat and cool it. The LEED for Homes rating system’s “neutral” size recommendations range from 900 square feet for a one-bedroom house to 2,850 square feet for a five-bedroom house.

Myth #8: “Green” is just a passing fad.

From kitchen cabinets to skylights to siding, consumers are looking for eco-friendly features for their homes, often paying premium prices for the extra value. High energy costs, limited natural resources, awareness of global environmental issues, better understanding of building science and growing health concerns are all contributing to a lasting green movement. The fact is that sustainable houses last longer, have fewer problems, are cheaper to live in and keep people healthier and happier. And who doesn’t want that to last forever.

by Peter Yost of BuildingGreen LLC in association with GreenBuildingAdvisor.com

-HGTVremodels.com

Written by Bethany Carter

Features for an Energy-Efficient Home

When designing a home, there are many aspects to consider – from the number of bedrooms to the color of the exterior walls. Building an energy-efficient home is one of the best ways homeowners can save money and still have all the features for a beautiful, comfortable home. Below are some ideas to consider for designing a  home that will make your living space environmentally friendly and economically sustainable.

Cool Roofs

Cool Roofs are designed to reflect sunlight and lower roofing temperatures. Cool Roofs are made from a type of reflective material within roofing materials such as tiles, shingles or paint. This energy-saving technique is ideal for houses in warm climates where air conditioning costs are high all year around.

Exterior Doors and Windows

When choosing windows and doors, it’s important to make your selection based on energy performance ratings as well as impact ratings. The advanced technology used in these types of features prove to be well worth the investment, not only for protecting the integrity of the home.  Highly rated materials promise to  significantly lower energy costs as well insurance rates.

Skylights

Skylights have many benefits, which makes them ideal for any home. Skylights improve efficiency in heating, lighting and ventilation. It is important to note that if you are considering placing skylights in your home, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends they be no larger than five percent of the floor area in rooms with several windows and 15 percent of the floor area in rooms with minimal windows.

Window Treatments

There are many types of curtains and shades specifically designed to help reduce energy costs in your home. There is a vast selection of these types of window treatments so that one mustn’t sacrifice style for function.

Fans

Installing fans throughout your home is one of the best money-saving ways to keep cool. This, of course, allows you to use your air conditioning unit less but even more impressive is that the energy consumption of most ceiling fans is less than that of a light bulb.

Bathroom and Kitchen Fixtures

When you purchase the appliances and the fixtures for your bathrooms and kitchen, check for their Energy Star rating. Installing items with high Energy Star ratings can add up to save you a substantial amount of money each year.

Exterior Colors

Believe it or not, the exterior paint color of your house is a contributing factor for heat conduction. A light exterior color will help the home stay cooler, while a darker color will absorb heat.

Insulation

Insulation is absolutely essential to energy efficiency in your home. Researching the various types of insulation is a must to ensure the most efficient type and proper installation for your home.

Flooring

The type of flooring in your home can also effect heating/cooling. Carpet lends itself to a warmer feel while tile and stone can help keep it cool. Wood and laminate surfaces tend to be fairly neutral, allowing for versatility with the use of area rugs. Another thing to consider is maintenance and the ease and expense of cleaning bare floors versus carpet.