If you’ve been living under a rock for a decade or so, you would easily mistake ‘Green Building’ for a house that The Hulk or the Green Goblin or even Kermit the Frog would live in. As interesting as it would be, that is not what ‘Green Building’ means. Also known by the names Green Construction or Sustainable Building, Green Building is “a building is a building that, in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and can create positive impacts, on our climate and natural environment. Green buildings preserve precious natural resources and improve our quality of life” (World Green Building Council).
You may already have a normal non-green home or may be in the middle of building one, but that doesn’t mean that your home can’t be green. Even the most ordinary homes can be transformed into a green building; not doing 100% justice of the term but as close to it as possible. In the rest of this article, we are going to discuss the top 7 ways in which you do just that.
#1. Start with the Furniture
Did you know that 3.5 billion to 7 billion trees are cut down each year? And millions of them end up in our homes as furniture. The fancy sofa in the living room may be comfortable and look pretty, but it is not helping the environment in any way. Furniture made out of recycled materials are good options and plus, they are truly unique. They don’t look old or smell weird as some sources have led you to believe. A simple Barrel can be made into a single or double seat couch. If you are someone who prefers normal looking furniture, you can choose to buy refurbished furniture. The result will be one (or more) less tree being cut down. So, the next time you’re thinking about getting new furniture, keep this in mind and make the right decision.
#2. Use Energy Efficient Lighting
It is time for you to stop lighting up your home with those conventional bulbs that are leaving a big dent in your energy bills. It is greener to use energy efficient alternatives like CFL or LED lighting. They may be more expensive, but in the long run, they are going to save you a lot on your energy bill and will last much longer too. You can even install smart light bulbs that automatically adjust the light as people enter and leave the room. This too can save a lot of energy that would otherwise be wasted. For daytime lighting purposes, just roll up the curtains and use natural sunlight because it is free (like, duh!) and also gives you your daily Vitamin D requirements, keeping you healthy. Using proper lighting is absolutely necessary for a green building.
#3. Intelligent Landscaping
Proper landscaping plays a very important role in making your home green. Planting trees at the right places can give you benefits that you would never have thought of. For example, planting trees on the southern and western sides of your home can help keep your home cooler as they block sunlight during summer and during winter when the trees shed their leaves, they will let more sunlight in and thus warming up the house. It is also advised to choose drought-resistant native plants and reduce turf areas to reduce water consumption. Surfaces outside the house can be made of water absorbing permeable materials to reduce water runoff and for irrigation purposes, greywater can be used.
#4. Make Your Wall Come Alive
There is no better way to make a wall more than ‘just a wall’ than by turning it into a living green wall; otherwise known as vertical gardens or living walls. It is not just the aesthetics, you are bringing a slice of Mother Nature into your home. These walls (plants) absorb and clean pollutants from the air and through photosynthesis, release oxygen. These walls also control the ambient temperature and provide thermal insulation. This leads to less energy and money spent on Air Conditioning. Living walls have also been known to improve people’s alertness and energy levels. If you live in a neighborhood with noise pollution, these walls can help you reduce both high and low-frequency noise.
#5. Harvest Rainwater and Use Tankless Water Heating
A rainwater harvesting system can be installed to collect rainwater from the roofs and direct them to a tank or rain barrels (the most popular method). Rainwater Harvesting is particularly useful if the ground where your house was built is hard. If the ground is hard, water won’t seep into it and will not be used. The harvested rainwater can be used for toilets and irrigation purposes. With proper treatment, it can be used for all the other functions too.
Getting water heated for a shower is during winter is time and money consuming. Even worse, you might end up heating up more water than you needed. And eventually, let it go cold in the tank again. With Tankless water heating, just the right amount of water is heated. As it is passed through an electric coil, saving you energy and also freeing up the space that a hot water tank would have taken up.
#6. Get Proper Insulation
Did you know that almost half of your home’s energy consumption is for heating and cooling? That is a lot to pay to be hot or cool! (No pun intended). This is because of a lot of the energy spent on heating or cooling leaks to the outside world through tiny gaps between windows, doors and duct works. Traditional materials like mud and cork are not durable. For a much greener home, it is better to utilize closed-cell spray polyurethane foam (ccSPF) insulation to seal off these cavities. For insulating the roof, you can choose the more efficient Warm Loft (insulating immediately under the roof) over Cold Loft (insulating immediately above the top story ceiling). Floors can be insulated using quality rugs all around.
#7. Green Building: Install Solar Panels
You knew this was coming. It would be weird not to have solar panels on this list. But facts remain the same; solar energy is the most accessible renewable energy for residential homes. The cells can power your home during the daytime and also store energy in batteries for utilization during night time. Solar panels aren’t the only options available. Solar roofing tiles are now available thanks to the likes of Tesla’s SolarCity. They not only produce energy but also adds to the visual appeal of your home. The initial investment needed may be a bit high, but it can be easily written off using savings made on the energy bill.
Since you’ve made it this far, you are now knowledgeable enough to start making your home green. It has to be remembered that green building technology is constantly evolving. Homeowners can make use of technology like BIM Services to assist in the transition to green building or when building an entirely new Green Home.
Manjusha M Nair is a member of the digital marketing team at Advenser. It is a prominent BIM & CAD service provider in AEC industry offering services to general contractors, fabricators, designers, erectors, and engineers. She spends her time connecting and networking with professionals of similar interest and shares positive thoughts.