Building a Green Home? Here’s all You Need to Know!

Guide to Building a Green Home

As “planet over profit” has gained prominence in recent years, there has been a noticeable shift in consumer trends. More people are now preferring “Green homes” to carve out their residential properties as environmentally sustainable units. As a result of which, a large number of responsible homebuyers can be seen welcoming a variety of eco-friendly suggestions.

Interestingly, now more homebuyers can be seen opting for relatively greener options in addition to green-certified buildings by the developers.

However, there is more context to constructing a “green home” as compared to a normal home. The definition of such units varies sig

nificantly depending on the locations, people, and availability of materials. It is quite likely that residential units which are sustainable for one set of groups in one location, fail entirely to live up to their benchmark in other locations.

What is a Green Home?

Aiming towards net zero adversely impacts the environment, a ‘green home’ must be built on the desire to reduce carbon footprint. Utilizing the eco-friendly construction materials available that lead to more durable and efficient homes is one of the most popular ways of doing so. However, that’s not all. The scope of creating a ‘Green Home’ far exceeds simply using a select few eco-friendly materials. Let’s find out about everything you must do to construct your very own eco-friendly green home.

Materials and Resources

If you are considering doing your bit and building a green home, it is crucial to gauge whether the raw materials used for construction are indigenous or not. For instance, to increase demand for building materials and products that are extracted and manufactured within the region, one must support the use of indigenous resources. This will help to reduce the environmental impacts resulting from transportation of building materials.

Additionally, according to compliance criteria, one must use building materials or products that have been extracted,sourced,and manufactured, within 250 miles (400 km) of the project site for a minimum of 10% or 20%, based on cost, of the total materials value. If only a fraction of a product or material meets the aforementioned criteria, then only that percentage (by weight) must contribute to the regional value.

Further, to assure that the majority of the raw materials used for construction are renewable, one should use rapidly renewable building materials and products. These materials should be equal to 2.5% of the total value of all building materials and products used in the project, based on cost.

Appropriate Arrangements for Water Conservation

An important aspect of building a green home is to ensure that the residential unit should be water efficient. This can be achieved in a variety of ways. For example, by putting water-efficient plumbing fixtures in place and installing flow restrictors and/or reduced flow aerators, one can considerably lower down the total amount of water used. You can also go for ‘flow fixtures fitted with aerators’ that have very low consumption of water with high effectiveness.

One quite popular way to conserve water is through ‘rainwater harvesting’. In case you are planning an independent unit or builder floor, you can conveniently collect rainwater from rooftops for domestic needs. The simplest method to do that is by collecting the rainwater in a large pot/vessel kept under the edge of the rooftop drainage system.

Another efficient but seldom used measure for making a housing unit water efficient is by ‘reducing landscape water demand’. Usually in this, one must limit or eliminate the use of potable water or other natural surface or subsurface water resources available on or near the project site for landscape irrigation. This can be done by minimizing lawn area, use of native and adapted species, and use of efficient irrigation methods.

Apt Design Elements

Before designing or planning a home, we shortlist a number of design elements. The same holds true for a ‘Green home’ as well but with few significant tweaks.  For instance, while planning a green home, one should always pay due attention to the position of the water bodies or whether to have them in the nearby surroundings or not.

Water bodies are effective means of evaporative cooling as water having a high specific heat can absorb a comparatively large quantity of radiation. Conversely, it can be used as a heat storage material when enclosed by glazing. However, the same set of water bodies can also increase humidity in warm-humid climates.

Another pertinent design element is vegetation. The vegetation around the home usually absorbs radiation and affects cooling. Although, these can cause humidity and affect daylight or cause glare.

Courtyards & Verandahs – as shaded elements these are quite effective as reservoirs of cooler air in a hot climate as cool air tends to collect in the court.

Keeping all that we have discussed above, it’s evident that different design elements behave differently based on the surroundings or climate of the location. Below are a few suggestions, which you can refer to before shortlisting several elements.

  • For Hot Climate – integrating vegetation as gardens, roof gardens, and planters is desirable in the building to reduce heat gain. Shaded courtyards are also an effective method to lower air temperatures.
  • For Cold Climate – greenhouses and glass boxes are effective heat traps to enhance heat gain.
  • For Humid Climate – courtyards & verandahs aid in ventilation, wind-catchers may be employed only if there are strong and cool breezes.

Selecting Appropriate Rooftops

Updating your roofs adds value to the home and enhances the aesthetic appeal of the property.. While roof preparation, property installation, and roof framing are always important, the kind of roof you choose should be in accordance with the kind of environment your home is located in.

Generally, in areas where residential units require maximum sunlight exposure, straight roofs are designed to increase exposure to solar radiation. Whereas sloping roofs, domical roofs, or vaulted roofs are for gaining less solar radiation.

see also – Go Green! is the New Mantra for Realtors

Fenestration: Arrangement and Configuration

Fenestration refers to the area, shape, location, and relative positioning of the windows and affects the air movement, daylight & glare indoors. While there are multiple reasons supporting the concept, in normal terms one must understand that the area of the opening affects the amount of light & breeze entering inside. Similarly, the location of the opening affects ventilation & distribution of light indoors.

Therefore, several arrangements and configurations are suggested depending on the location of your dream green home:

  • Windows for Hot climates – appropriately shaded, smaller area, high opening, or ventilators as effective heat vents.
  • Windows for Warm-humid climates – appropriately sized to facilitate ventilation accompanied by an appropriate shading device.
  • Windows for Cold climates – large-sized and unshaded but air-tight.
  • Windows for Composite climates – adequate design of shading device to cut off summer sun, and allows winter sun to facilitate ventilation.
  • Windows as a combination of high windows with baffles, low windows accompanied with baffles as well as light & reflective interior finishing can help distribute light inside a room uniformly.

Usher in the Green Revolution!

As the rapidly changing landscape looks to align itself with the low-carbon economic agenda by adopting aggressive goals, the housing segment must also stay afoot and be at the center of such green developments. So, what are you waiting for? Plan your dream home built on a strong green core of sustainable practices and contribute your bit towards reducing GHG emissions and achieving a green project lifecycle.

Sifa Singh Sifa loves digging deep into datasets, churning out trends, and weaving stories around them. She is a firm believer that reliable and real-time data-driven stories have the power to change the world by bringing forward insights and solutions which can guide better decisions at all levels. Being a proponent of sustainable actions, irrespective of the domain, she aspires to include ESG in all her pursuits.
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