How to Build a Green Home Today
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As eco-consumer rates increase, the demand for green buildings follows. A significant portion of an individual’s greenhouse gas emissions derive from their home. The appliances, energy sources, materials and water systems used on a residential property affect its sustainability.
Residents can help America achieve its carbon-neutrality goal by enhancing the eco-friendliness of its properties. Before evaluating how to build a green home, we must examine the ecological challenges they counter.
Various systems alter the sustainability of a property when powered by fossil fuels. Nearly 80% of the U.S. power supply derives from fossil fuels. During combustion, the energy source creates atmosphere altering greenhouse gas emissions.
The air pollutants interfere with Earth’s natural temperature control process. Organically, the atmosphere takes in solar radiation, produces heat, warms the surface, reabsorbs excess energy and sends it to space. Greenhouse gases alter the process, creating efficiency challenges.
When toxins invade the atmosphere, they overproduce heat. Additionally, they trap excess energy in the environment for extended periods. Over time, the effect on the system raises the global temperature.
Most heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems run on fossil fuel-derived energy. Residential HVAC systems produce 441 million greenhouse gas emissions annually. They significantly decrease the eco-friendliness of a home.
All electric or gas-powered appliances, like lights and stoves, contribute to a property’s carbon footprint. A home’s reliance on conventional water supplies also impacts its sustainability. As Earth’s temperature rises, the evaporation rate follows.
Increased evaporation occurrences deplete regional reservoirs, rivers and lakes, affecting the stability of residential water supplies. Individuals can construct green properties by decreasing their reliance on the electric grid and city water sources. Developing electricity and gathering water on-site can improve the sustainability of a home.
Use Green Materials
The first step to creating a green home is accessing sustainable building materials. Environmental engineers and scientists are developing conventional construction supplies with fewer ecological impacts. Green steel is a relatively new material that eco-conscious builders are utilizing on net-zero buildings.
Manufacturing steel generates nearly 7% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Researchers evaluated the environmental challenges and developed a production alternative using green hydrogen. Traditionally, steel development uses coal for the oxygen stripping of iron ore.
Replacing the greenhouse gas-emitting energy source with green hydrogen significantly improves the material’s sustainability. Other construction professionals develop green homes using bamboo instead of rare wood. Bamboo is an abundant material that grows over three feet in a single day.
The plant is a practical construction component that is stronger than concrete. Professionals use bamboo for structural purposes, as well as for cabinetry and flooring. Individuals can also access green insulation materials, decreasing pollution and improving the energy efficiency of their homes.
Cellulose insulation derives from used newspaper, treated with borate for fire and pest resistance. Many sustainable construction professionals will install the material in attics and above ground-level walls. The recycled material may be inefficient in humid regions, like basements.
Install Renewable Energy Systems
Next, individuals can install solar panels or other renewable energy systems to support emission-less electricity sourcing. Professionals can install photovoltaic panels on your home’s rooftop, converting sunlight into accessible energy through solar cells. Builders can design your roof for optimal compatibility with panels.
Metal roofs are most compatible with solar panels. Their standing seams decrease the need for drilling, increasing the ease of installation. The tilt of a roof also affects the efficiency of solar production.
The most efficient angle for solar panels depends on the location of a home. If you live in a high latitude state, your roof can have a higher tilt angle for optimal efficiency. Lower latitude regions require low tilt angels, and all panels should face the south.
Installing solar panels on a home can decrease a homeowner’s reliance on the grid. You can also add a rainwater harvesting system to accumulate potable water naturally. The system collects stormwater and stores it in barrels.
It then transfers the water directly to an irrigation device or filtration system. After purification, residents can pump the water into faucets, showerheads, washing machines and more. Rainwater harvesting systems reduce water exploitation by eliminating a homeowner’s reliance on city supplies.
Add Energy-Efficient Appliances
Finally, individuals can install energy-efficient appliances in their homes to improve systems’ compatibility with renewable energy devices. Adding smart technology may limit an appliances’ reliance on electricity. Smart thermostats significantly decrease a home’s energy consumption.
The device connects to a conventional HVAC system, maintaining energy-efficient temperature indoors. They also connect to residents’ smartphones and tablets, helping them control their home’s temperature while they are away. Smart thermostats use motion detection sensors, adjusting a room’s temperature based on its occupancy.
Smart lights and stoves similarly limit systems’ energy reliances. Minor alterations help the devices cut back on their electricity use, decreasing stress on solar panels.
Where to Start
When you are ready to build a green home, you can start by locating sustainable construction companies in your area. You may ensure their authenticity by examining their certifications. Many green builders abide by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
Residents can look for transparency on a construction company’s website, finding the most sustainable option for their projects. Additionally, you can ask the builder what materials they use and emission reduction measures they take. After evaluating a few companies, you can settle on the best builder for your green home.
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About the author
Starting from an early age, Jane Marsh loved all animals and became a budding environmentalist. Now, Jane works as the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co where she covers topics related to climate policy, renewable energy, the food industry, and more.