Green homes are becoming increasingly in vogue and offer many benefits to home owners, as well as their family, local community and the planet at large. So what is a green home, and what are the benefits of owning one?
A green home treads lightly on the environment; it uses natural resources wisely, is water and energy efficient, and generates minimal waste, while at the same time provides the occupants with a healthier and more comfortable living environment.
What Makes A Home Green?
A home can either be specially designed and built green from the start, or an existing home can be retrofitted to improve its environmental performance. By utilizing creative design techniques, such as passive solar design, a building’s environmental performance can be greatly enhanced, without necessarily adding any additional building costs. These techniques can also be applied when remodeling a home to provide greater energy efficiency through creative use of natural light and natural ventilation to passively heat, cool and provide natural light to a home.
Energy-Efficient: Reducing energy consumption in a home can be achieved in many ways – from incorporating passive solar design techniques above, to using energy-efficient lighting such as compact fluorescent (CFLs) or LEDs, installing energy-efficient appliances that are Energy Star compliant, installing a timer switch to automatically control lighting, heating and cooling systems, improving insulation by caulking air leaks and installing energy-efficient windows and doors, to installing solar panels or a wind turbine to generate a natural, renewable source of energy.
Conserves Water: Water can be saved by implementing various techniques in the home, including installing rainwater tanks, recycling grey water for watering lawns and garden beds, or installing water saving faucets and shower-heads.
Sustainable Building Materials: Utilizing locally sourced natural building materials that are sustainably harvested or better still building materials made from recycled materials, reduces the overall carbon footprint of the home.
Minimizes Waste: Waste can be reduced by using recycled building materials during the construction, by purchasing up-cycled products or products that have been made from recycled materials, and/or by actively recycling waste that is generated in the home.
Environmentally Friendly Landscaping: Retain as much natural vegetation as possible to provide natural habitat for local birds and wildlife. Use drought resistant indigenous plants for landscaping to minimize the water demands of your garden. Try to use pervious materials on driveways, footpaths and outdoor entertainment areas to allow rain and dew to seep into the ground and water the garden naturally.
Benefits of Owning a Green Home
The benefits of owning a green home are enormous:
Cost-Efficient: Energy is costly – both to the environment and to our wallets. Green homes are cost-efficient and can cut monthly utility bills, which can amount to substantial savings over the long-term, while at the same time minimizing the environmental costs associated with development.
Improved Health and Comfort: A green home reduces air pollution by using non-toxic materials and finishes throughout, offering health benefits as well as greater comfort to the occupants by utilizing natural and mechanical ventilation for cooling and to provide fresh air and expel stale air from the home.
Enhanced Value: Because green homes are cost-efficient, healthier, offer greater comfort to the occupants, and are kinder to the environment, they are in high demand, which ultimately increases their resale value. Green homes can fetch higher market prices and as they are also in great demand by tenants fetch higher rentals too. As your home is one of your biggest investments – if not the biggest – it makes sense to maximize it’s ROI potential, while saving you money at the same time.
Building or Buying a Green Home
So you may be wondering how you go about building, renovating or buying a green home. If you are building a new home, or even renovating an existing home, and you would like it to be a green certified home, the best advice is to find a builder that is certified under the Built-Green or LEED green building certification program. A green certified builder can assist you with incorporating features that comply with the green building program in the construction of your home, and will also help you to get your home green certified upon completion.
When looking to purchase an existing green home, your best bet is to find a real estate agent that specializes in this market niche, as they will be able to offer solid advice on what features to look for when choosing a green home, and will recommend green properties that best satisfy your family’s needs.