The Future of Eco-Friendly Home Design

By Kasen Seaver
January 19, 2009

There are plenty of changes occurring in the homebuilding industry, and even if
you aren’t planning on moving anytime soon, it pays (literally) to know what
changes are in store for when you finally make that decision.

On the forefront of these changes are eco-friendly improvements and practices.
In fact, the National Association of Home Builders estimates that almost 50
percent of homes built in 2010 will be green.

“LEED”ing the Way

Consider moving to one of the more than 200 pilot projects across 39 states that
are part of LEED for Neighborhood Development. These projects incorporate smart
growth and eco-conscious design into each urban community. What does this mean
for you?

The first home in the country to be given LEED Platinum status, the house is
also the prototype for LivingHomes, a prefabricated home builder. In fact, the
“bulk of the house was built at a factory in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., and
assembled in one day.” - Socketsite.com Living in a LEED-certified development
means residents inhabit mixed use spaces with access to a variety of housing
types, from multi-unit to single family residences, public green spaces and a
system of networked roadways that are pedestrian, cyclist and public transit
friendly. As a member of this community, you not only combat urban sprawl, which
strains already limited resources and natural animal habitats, but also decrease
greenhouse gas emissions by cutting back on the use of your automobile with
daily amenities located in the neighborhood.

Not convinced that living a LEED neighborhood is your style? LEED homes that are
designed and constructed based on green principles, helping you live in a
healthier environment with lower water and energy bills. Translation: they save
you money in the long run.

It’s a Material World

You would probably be surprised at how creative we’ve become with materials for
green home construction. For example, the foundation of homes can be made with
Styrofoam blocks, and insulation can come from recycled paper or denim scraps
instead of toxic fiberglass.

Interiors have earth-friendly options as well. For example, Eco-Kitchens Online
sells countertops made from recycled yogurt containers, coffee cups or bamboo.
According to your tastes, an eco-friendly, low-VOC paint or wax can be applied as well.

Energy Stars

Reducing energy usage is one of the easiest ways to lower bills in a green home,
and although solar panels and geothermal heat are great options, here are some
relatively low-cost ways to achieve that goal.

Purchase Energy Star electronics and appliances.

Use automatic light switches that use infrared and ultrasonic technologies.

A multi-zone HVAC unit segregates temperatures in various zones of the home.
Advanced programmable thermostats allow you to use a phone to set temperatures
in your home for different days and times. Some models may also tell you when
to change the air filter.

Development of an Automatic Metering Infrastructure (AMI) with smart metering
from utility companies will allow users to log in remotely to adjust energy
usage associated with heating, cooling, lighting and appliances.

Slow the Flow

Green homes make an efficient use of water, an increasingly limited resource.
With methods involving collection of graywater for reuse in non-drinking areas
of the home, harvesting rainwater to use as irrigation and installing efficient
fixtures such as low-flow shower heads and dual-flush toilets, homes can
drastically reduce their water consumption. One cool new product is Eco-Click by
Hudson Reed, a faucet that clicks when you are using 50 percent of the available
water flow. A second click gives you full capacity.

With the eco-conscious movement in full-force, there is no shortage of options
when building or remodeling, and technologies will only get better. The future
is green (and bright).


Promoting Green Building Design, Construction and Operation, Sustainable Living,
Clean Technology, Renewable Energy Resources and Energy Independence