News Article

10 Considerations For Building a Green Home

Green home design strives to construct a house that saves money and is good for the envi­ron­ment and the occupants of the home. Green or sus­tain­able home building reduces energy, water, and material use during and after con­struc­tion. Green building also creates a durable house that has a healthy indoor envi­ron­men­tal quality (IEQ) and a high level of comfort for its occupants. Ulti­mate­ly, building a green home increases the resale value of the house. In fact, a report by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Texas at Austin and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) concluded that new LEED-certified homes (green) in the Austin-Round Rock Met­ro­pol­i­tan Sta­tis­ti­cal Area are valued an average of $25,000 more than con­ven­tion­al homes. In addition, according to new research published in the Green Mul­ti­fam­i­ly and Single Family Homes 2017 Smart­Mar­ket Brief, green home con­struc­tion is growing among both single-family and mul­ti­fam­i­ly home builders. The study found that at least one-third of the single-family and multi-family builders surveyed said that green building is a major portion of their overall activity. By 2022, this number is predicted to increase to nearly one-half in both the single-family and multi-family sectors.

National Asso­ci­a­tion of Home Builders (NAHB) Chairman Granger MacDonald, a home builder and developer from Kerrville, Texas states, Building green is no longer a niche business; our members recognize the value of building green and are incor­po­rat­ing these elements into their standard business practices.”

There are numerous elements to consider when building a green home. A green home design considers energy, water, and waste effi­cien­cy along with IEQ factors such as indoor air quality (IAQ), thermal, light, acoustic, privacy, security, and the function of the space. Green building con­struc­tion is also resilient and low main­te­nance. The goals of green home design are to achieve net-zero energy use3 and create a durable, com­fort­able, healthy, low main­te­nance home with high IEQ.

10 Considerations for Building a Green Home

1. A Whole-Building System Approach for Designing a Green Home

The whole-building system approach treats a house as a single energy system in which each part impacts the effi­cien­cy of the entire home. The whole-building system approach effi­cient­ly uses elec­tric­i­ty, water, and other natural resources and strives to reduce material con­sump­tion and waste. Also, it ensures that all the building pro­fes­sion­als are informed and under­stand every aspect of the design that impacts energy use in the house. The goal of the whole-building system approach is to create a home with a healthy and safe indoor envi­ron­ment, lower utility and main­te­nance costs, and improved dura­bil­i­ty and comfort. Home­own­ers, archi­tects, and con­trac­tors concur that designing a green home needs a whole-building system approach.

2. A Green Home has a High Per­for­mance Building Envelope

A high per­for­mance building envelope minimizes heat, air and moisture infil­tra­tion and is crucial to creating a green home. Essential design com­po­nents of a high per­for­mance building envelope are con­tin­u­ous insu­la­tion (CI)4 and appli­ca­tion of an air and moisture barrier. Con­tin­u­ous insu­la­tion prevents gaps of insu­la­tion where heat can enter or escape (thermal bridging), and a high per­for­mance air and moisture barrier stops air leakage which degrades energy per­for­mance of a building. Moisture resis­tance is key to pre­vent­ing rot and the growth of mold and mildew, which can tremen­dous­ly degrade the integrity and IEQ of a home. A high per­for­mance building envelope should also include energy efficient windows, skylights, and doors appro­pri­ate to the home’s climate zone. Essential to green home design is a high per­for­mance building envelope that minimizes heat, air and moisture infil­tra­tion within a home.

3. Cool Roofs of a Green Home

A cool roof keeps the home and attic spaces cool by shielding against solar heat gain. Materials for a cool roof include high thermal mass materials5 like clay, tiles, or slate that are reflec­tive or have light colored pigments that cast back the sunlight. Cool roofs reduce energy bills and improve indoor comfort. Cool roofs can also extend the roof’s service life.

4. The Heating, Cooling and Ven­ti­la­tion Systems of a Green Home

Because a home’s heating and cooling system account for 48 percent of a home’s energy use, the design of a green home should consider high-effi­cien­cy heating and cooling systems that use less energy. The most efficient HVAC system is 95 percent efficient; meaning 5 percent of the energy produced is lost. Con­trol­ling ven­ti­la­tion of a green home is also critical because the air-tightness of a green home can trap pol­lu­tants (like radon, formalde­hyde, and volatile organic compounds). Methods of ven­ti­la­tion may include an energy recovery ven­ti­la­tion system and spot ven­ti­la­tion, such as exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen, along with natural ven­ti­la­tion.

5. Renewable Energy Sources of an Energy-Efficient Home

The design of a stainable home should strive to generate as much energy as it uses by installing renewable energy measures: for example, micro­hy­dropow­er, solar pho­to­volta­ic (PV) panels, wind system, and small hybrid” electric system. Renewable energy sources can lessen or even eliminate a home’s utility bills and may even have tax incen­tives.

6. Energy-Efficient Appli­ances, Elec­tron­ics, Water Heater, Lighting, and Smart Devices of a Green Home

Design of a green home should include ENERGY STAR appli­ances, energy-efficient water heaters, ENERGY STAR®-labeled office equipment and elec­tron­ics, and energy-efficient lighting like light-emitting diodes (LEDs), compact flu­o­res­cent lamps (CFLs), and halogen incan­des­cent. Smart home devices like pro­gram­ma­ble ther­mostats, occupancy or motion sensors, CO2 and other air quality alarms, can also save money and energy, along with making a home safer.

7. Insulated Slab Foun­da­tion of an Energy-Efficient Home

In many slab-on-grade foun­da­tion designs, sig­nif­i­cant areas of the slab edge is unin­su­lat­ed and remains exposed to the outdoor envi­ron­ment, allowing heat energy to travel into and out of the home. This can sig­nif­i­cant­ly impact the energy effi­cien­cy of the building and lead to uncom­fort­able indoor con­di­tions. To avoid this condition, the exposed portions of the slab should be insulated. Addi­tion­al pre­cau­tions must also be taken in areas where termites are present as the foam insu­la­tion can provide an entry point into the home.These small details taken together all con­tribute to a greener and more com­fort­able home design.

8. Site Ori­en­ta­tion of a Green-Sus­tain­able Home

Correct site ori­en­ta­tion (passive solar design) of a green home is crucial for taking advantage of the sun’s energy. For instance, the north-south ori­en­ta­tion minimizes direct sunlight during the summer (which reduces cooling demands) while max­i­miz­ing sunlight during the winter (which reduces heating demands).

9. A Green Home is Durable

A sus­tain­able home design utilizes durable products and materials. Durable products are sus­tain­able because they last longer, so the raw materials, energy, and envi­ron­men­tal impacts invested in them are spread out over more time. Dura­bil­i­ty also improves the resilience of a home against natural disasters like hur­ri­canes, tornadoes, and fires. Again, saving energy and money to rebuild and repair.

10. Bautex Blocks are the Ideal Choice for a Green Home Design: Energy-Efficient, Durable, Com­fort­able, Healthy and a High IEQ

A green home is a sus­tain­able house that is sensitive to human impact on natural ecosys­tems. The ultimate goal of green home design is to achieve net-zero energy use and create a durable, com­fort­able, healthy home with high IEQ. Visit Bautex Systems for more con­sid­er­a­tions for building a green home.

1Green homes are good for the envi­ron­ment because they battle against increas­ing green­house gases and global warming. Negative impacts of global warming include rising sea levels due to growing rates of glacial melting, more acidic oceans, due to climbing carbon dioxide levels, and more frequent and severe weather events.

2Sustainable design aims to reduce depletion of critical resources like water, land, raw materials and energy. Sus­tain­able design of also prevents the destruc­tion of the ecosystem.

3A net-zero energy home makes as much energy as it uses.

4 Con­tin­u­ous insu­la­tion is required by the ASHRAE 90.1 and the Inter­na­tion­al Energy Con­ser­va­tion Code (2015 IECC). Con­tin­u­ous insu­la­tion is defined by the ASHRAE Standard 90.12013 as insu­la­tion that is uncom­pressed and con­tin­u­ous across all struc­tur­al members without thermal bridges other than fasteners and service openings. A thermal bridge is a section of a wall assembly that allows heat and energy to flow through it at a higher rate than the sur­round­ing area and reduces the effective R‑value of the wall assembly.

5High thermal mass materials can absorb and store heat energy. High thermal mass materials help stabilize tem­per­a­ture shifts within a home by slowing the rate of heat transfer. Water, stone, brick, and concrete are examples of materials with high thermal mass. Steel, wood, and carpeting have low thermal mass and not good materials for green home design.

6Volatile organic compounds (VOC) are chemicals used to man­u­fac­ture and maintain building materials, interior fur­nish­ing, cleaning products and personal care products. Emissions of VOCs from these products can cause nose, eye and throat irri­ta­tions, headaches, nausea and damage to the kidney, liver and central nervous system. Some organics can even cause cancer in animals and humans.