Green Buildings

Sustainable Building Design for a Green Home

Building a completely green home can be a difficult challenge. It takes careful planning. Consider that every decision in your building or remodeling project impacts both the environment and your finances. There are often multiple options that need to be weighed for sustainability advantages and disadvantages. You can make wise choices that result in green building if you are willing to put the time and effort in for research and preparation. Here are just a few of the aspects of a green home that you will have to consider:

Sustainable Roofing

Roofing is a hard aspect to plan for green design. You want something that has minimal environmental impact, lasts a long time, and looks attractive. Green roofing options include tile, cedar shakes, and metal. Living roofs are growing in popularity, especially in cities. They are mostly flat and contain a layer of soil to support plant life. The plants can actually deflect heat from the building, providing an insulative layer. However, they are heavy, and the building’s infrastructure would have to be adequately designed to support the extra weight. The plants would also require watering.

Sustainable Decks

For an attractive and eco-friendly outdoor living space, the best material for a green deck is salvaged lumber. Other lumber is still less environmentally damaging than concrete or metal, as less fuel is used in making and transporting it. If the lumber has been harvested where good conservation laws are enforced, you will be using a renewable resource. Another possible option is composite lumber, which is made from recycled wood waste and plastics. However, potentially toxic materials are added in manufacturing the boards, and it is not as easy to work with.

Water Usage

When building a green home, water conservation is an important consideration. Efficient toilets are a must. Your home’s water usage will be reduced dramatically by using low flow toilets, as they can save thousands of gallons of water a year. A rainwater cistern that collects water to water plants is another great way to reduce water usage and use what you already have.

Heating and Cooling

An amazing amount of energy goes into heating and cooling a home. To save energy, a heat pump can be used to siphon ground heat when it’s not quite cold enough for the furnace or hot enough to kick on the air conditioning. This can save you energy, and also reduce your energy bills. Other energy efficient forms of heating include solar heat, pellet stoves, and radiant heat.

Paint and Finishes

Always choose paints and finishes that are natural and low in volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. After paint is applied, VOCs can still be released for years into the air. They are possible carcinogens and very hazardous for anyone with chemical sensitivities.


Traditional synthetic carpet wears out quickly, is hard to recycle, and toxic to produce. For a more sustainable option, consider tile flooring made up of recycled glass, bamboo, wood flooring from recycled or sustainable sources, or old fashioned linoleum.

These are just a few of the factors to consider in designing a green home. Knowledge is power. Learn what your most sustainable options are and apply them, and you will be well on your way to inhabiting the perfect green home.

Green Building–Getting Started with Economic Incentives

There are plenty of reasons to have a green home. You have the satisfaction of knowing that you and your family are doing everything possible to contribute to a cleaner, greener environment. Reduced health risks are another great benefit, along with reduced energy bills. But did you know that economical incentives beyond reduced energy bills may be available from not only the government, but also entities such as utility companies? The number of available incentives across the U.S. keeps growing as fast as the trend to go green and be better stewards of energy and resources.

If your goal is to add some eco-friendly elements to your home, incentives such as rebates and tax breaks are available with a little research that could help get your project going. Search the internet to get you started. There are many magazines and books that can be helpful too, such as Green Builder magazine and Green Building and Remodeling for Dummies by Eric Corey Freed (2007).

U.S. Government Incentives

If your goal is to increase energy efficiency, you can count on a number of tax breaks or incentives for upgrades to your home from the federal government because of 2005’s Energy Policy Act (EPACT). For more information, look up the act or search for government incentives for energy efficiency in your internet search engine.

Federal tax credits are even available just for purchasing energy efficient appliances. Find the website for The Energy Star, which is run by the federal government. It explains to consumers and builders what can be available to them for switching over to a more efficient product.

State Government Incentives

State government incentives vary by state, but every state has at least something for green building. Some areas have much more desirable options for green building, with bigger incentives. It is very important to research your state’s favorability to green building before you get started. The DSIRE website (which stands for Database for State Incentives of Renewables and Efficiency) is a non-profit project funded by the United States Department of Energy. It is a great resource to locate incentives at all levels.

Consumers of some states are eligible for not only state tax incentives for energy efficient homes, but also utility or state rebates. Look up your state’s energy office web site for more information and specific state tax information.

Local Government Incentives

Contact local authorities or search online to research local incentives. Many websites help to locate incentives at all government levels, and also local utility incentives for using renewable energy sources and practices. The Environmental Protection Agency also has many links to locate sources to fund green building projects at national, state and also local levels. The incentives are accessible for homeowners, builders, and government or non profit organizations. With specific projects, there may also be different grants, loans or tax credits available.

If the potential energy bill savings weren’t enough to make green building an attractive investment possibility, tax breaks and incentives can make it a reality. If you are interested in building or remodeling green, do your research at all levels. Plan to live better, healthier, and greener with your sustainable home, and save some green too.