Green Home Building Ideas
The rising cost of energy bills in addition to environmental concerns are driving many of today’s new home builders to look for ways to build more sustainably. If you’re seeking some green building inspiration, read on for what to consider when you’re at the drawing board to get the most out of your new build.
Passive solar design should play a big role in maintaining thermal comfort around your new home. This means less temperature fluctuation and less reliance on artificial cooling and heating. Begin by assessing the climate of where you will be building, as a tropical city will have vastly different requirements to a mountainous area that typically experiences snow.
For warmer climates you’ll want a way to stop the strongest sunlight of the day entering the home. Therefore, pay attention to the orientation your windows are facing and add awnings, shutters or sails to provide additional shade. Double story homes especially can trap heat and become mini ovens in upstairs areas if proper cross ventilation is not factored into the design. Another way to keep heat at bay is to have adequate insulation, even if you are building with high performance brick or new eco materials. You may also consider installing an internal thermal mass wall to assist with the cooling of adjoining rooms. Some companies tout heat reflective paint, but the jury is out amongst some experts as to just how effective they are in exchange for their price tag.
Cooler climates that experience temperature fluctuation require buildings that can attract and retain heat in the very coldest of months, but allow for cooling in warmer times. Here the aim is to achieve higher thermal mass which uses materials to absorb then slowly release heat in the cooler part (end) of the day. Therefore, denser materials that absorb heat should be places near windows or spots where they can receive the most direct sunlight in the winter season. The most common of these is the concreate floor slab. In conjunction with insulation, this can dramatically reduce the need for electric or gas heaters. You might consider building a trombe wall which can help to improve heat collection. Doors that provide added insulation to prevent heat loss are also a good thing to consider in your new house’s design. Metal sandwich doors and vacuum insulation doors can be good options as well as placing them within an internal or external vestibule to provide a buffer between the exposure of indoor and outdoor areas.
In instances where additional cooling and heating is desired, consider installing solar panels to power them, reducing your need to pay for resources from the grid. These systems can also be set up to accommodate to power your hot water. If solar systems are installed correctly they are still highly effective in cold climates. Sustainable architecture need not cost you the world, but is ideally addressed as the design stage so you can incorporate green features into the foundations of your home. Happy building!
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