Tag Archive 'green building'

Oct 20 2010

Profile Image of Curtis Cadenhead

5 Recycled Home Building Materials – The House Plan Shop

Trex DeckingWith the big push toward green building these days, more and more manufacturers are coming up with ways to use recycled materials to create new building materials. Below are five such items. Talk to your builder about the possibility of incorporating these materials or others like them into the construction of your new home.

 

1.    Aluminum Panels: Not only do aluminum siding and roofing panels use recycled materials, but they can be recycled again at the end of their life cycle. For instance, in 2003, flat-rolled, construction grade aluminum manufactured in the US used 80-85% recycled content. Recycled aluminum requires 95% less energy than virgin metal and reduces water pollution by 97% and air emissions by 95%.

2.    Concrete: Coal burning power plants produce fly ash as a waste product. Typically, the wasted ends up in landfills. But, some earth-friendly concrete manufacturers have found a way to mix it with lime and water creating a usable mixture similar to Portland cement, a major component used in concrete driveways, sidewalks and foundations. This fly ash compound is a superior building material because the coal combustion creates tiny spherical particles that make the mixture smoother and reduce friction during mixing and pouring.

3.    Insulation: Insulation is available from a few different recycled materials. The most commonly known insulation made of recycled materials consists of recycled newspapers that are shredded. Denim, such as old blue jeans, has also been reused and transformed into insulation. Recycled paper insulation is more readily available because newspapers are produced and distributed in mass quantities making it easier to collect and reuse for insulation. 

4.    Trex: This compound is an ideal alternative to wood. It consists of a combination of recycled plastic and reclaimed wood. Plastic shopping bags are the main source of its plastic fibers while sawdust and used shipping pallets make up the wood portion. Trex’s unique combination of plastic and wood fibers creates a wood-like material that is more durable than standard wood. The plastic protects against any damage from moisture and insects. The role of the wood is to prevent UV damage that is common with plastic materials. Trex products include many of the things traditionally made from lumber such as fencing materials, railings, boards for decking and trim products.

5.    Salvaged Wood: Salvaged wood is becoming more popular in new home construction. Any wood taken from a pre-existing construction project, such as an older home or building that is being torn down, and is reused in a new construction project is considered salvaged wood. This can include anything from wooden beams, doors, flooring and decking.  Sometimes old wood, or salvaged wood, offers an advantage in new home construction. In some cases, new wood is not thoroughly dry, which means it may shrink overtime causing the new home or building to shift. Old wood is fully cured and dry. It will not shrink so there is no worry about the building shifting. Another advantage of old wood is its size. Trees used for lumber in the past were larger in girth meaning old trees and old wood have fewer knots. Salvaged wood and salvaged wood products are available through dealers that specialized in reclaimed wood and at some salvage yards.

 

For additional information on green building, check out The House Plan Shop’s resource section.

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Feb 19 2010

Profile Image of Curtis Cadenhead

Building Tips: What Makes Home Building Materials Green?

Green BuildingAlright, so you’ve decided to build your dream home. Part of your dream is to build a green home. So, what makes home building materials green?

 

First, consider price and availability. These two factors may ultimately determine just how green you decide to go during construction. If you find two fairly similar products, but one is out of your price range, you may be forced to go with the product that is slightly less green in terms of environmental friendliness because it fits your budget. Or perhaps you’ve found the perfect material for the job, but it is not available in your area. Again, you may have to settle for the other choice that is readily available but has a slightly less green quality. No matter what products and materials you choose or must settle for when you build your new home, one thing is for sure, even materials that have some green quality are better than those that have no green qualities at all. Keeping price and availability in mind, here are a couple tips to help you choose green building materials. 

 

·         Choose products that are green certified, especially those that have been tested by third parties and independent testing companies that have an unbiased opinion. Greenguard and Energy Star are two widely recognized and trustworthy programs that test for many different environmental standards. Energy Star is well known for their top-rated appliances and lighting.

·         Select local materials whenever possible. Shipping materials long distances is not as environmentally friendly as choosing those that do not have to be transported by train or boat and then by truck. Plan to buy locally saving energy and fuel.

·         Look for materials that are green and are manufactured by companies that follow green practices. How a product is made is just as important as what it is made from. Look for products that post green-practice statements on their websites.

·         Choose materials made of recycled content such as tile and countertops made of recycled glass.

·         Select cabinets and wood flooring made from North-American grown hardwoods such as maple that do not incorporate stains, pigments or solvents.

·         One of the best choices you can make is to buy products, such as furniture, that you plan to keep for a long time. Durable, sturdy, high quality products that last a long time in your home means there is less going to the landfill. Can you imagine what the landfills would look like if every household bought new mattresses or couches every year?

 

These handy tips will get your started when it comes to selecting green building materials for your new home.

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Oct 08 2009

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Why Build a GREEN Home?

Green Home BuildingWhen it comes to building a new home, there are many benefits to gain by using green building methods. From choosing earth-friendly materials to following environmentally-friendly practices there are several things you and your builder can do to make your new home green. So why build GREEN? Green building and living is the way of the future. With every choice we make we have the option to protect our environment and planet or endanger them. Building a home makes a huge impact on the environment and landscape. Making responsible choices and decisions throughout the construction process helps protect the environment, our resources and our health. It is important that we do our part.

 

Carbon Footprint

Making an effort to use green materials will help lesson your carbon footprint. (A carbon footprint in the amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused directly or indirectly by an individual, organization or an event such as building a home.) Choosing local materials to finish your home will have less of an impact on the environment than selecting materials that must be shipped from far locations. Also, when clearing your lot, only clear the space that is necessary to build the home. Leave as many mature trees and as much shrubbery undisturbed as possible. This will leave the established ecosystem in place providing homes to resident animals and insects, allowing trees and greenery to produce oxygen and provide shade reducing your summer cooling bills.

 

Protecting Resources

Plan to use sustainable materials when building your home such as bamboo flooring. Bamboo grows much more quickly than other timber allowing it to replenish itself in a fraction of the time it takes for hardwoods and exotic timber to reproduce. Choosing sustainable materials prevents exploitation of natural resources.

 

Energy Efficiency

Using green or recycled materials can help increase the overall efficiency of your home and eliminate landfill wastes. Consider recycled paper or denim products to insulate your home. Choose countertops made of recycled glass instead of purchasing a granite countertop. Install high quality thermal windows cutting down on heating and cooling bills. Consider a geothermal heating and cooling system. Incorporate solar panels. Take advantage of your lot and position your home to make the best of natural lighting. Choose and install Energy Star rated appliances. All of these things help eliminate waste and reduce energy consumption (and your utility bills.)

 

Water-Use Reduction

Select and install water-conserving appliances and fixtures such as low-flow toilets and shower heads. Purchase a water-conserving washing machine and dishwasher. Not only will these choices help protect our water supply, but they will also reduce your water bill.

 

Heath Benefits 

Choose green products to finish the interior of your home such as formaldehyde-free building materials and low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints. These healthy alternatives help prevent respiratory problems that can arise when using traditional building materials.

 

So, before you build your new home, talk with your builder about these green building practices and other things you can do to make earth-friendly choices throughout the construction process.

 

For more information, check out these articles about green building.

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Aug 06 2009

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Green Building: 7 Earth-Friendly Building Tips

House Plan 001H-0012If you are planning to build a new home, it is important to consider including green building techniques.  Green building is a huge step in the right direction for healthy and responsible living so take some time to develop a green building plan with your builder. Incorporating just a few of these tips and ideas will not only result in an energy efficient home, but also you feel good about taking responsibility for the impact your new home will have on the environment. Consider these tips:

 

1.     Keep it small – The best green homes have just enough space and no more cutting down on use of building materials, heating and cooling costs and more. Also consider building up instead of out. This technique requires less foundation and roofing materials and leaves more green space.

2.     Incorporate renewable energy – Position your home to take advantage of natural lighting. If possible, incorporate other renewable energy techniques such as solar panels.

3.     Use the benefits of your building site – Take advantage of the features on your lot that will provide economical benefits. Visit the lot with your builder, note the special features and build around them. Rather than cutting down mature trees to clear the lot, build near them. The extra shade will cut down on cooling costs. Build near evergreens. They work well as a wind block.  

4.     Develop a recycling plan – There is no need to waste materials. Order only the building materials you will need. Return anything that is unused. Recycle any partially used materials, donate them to a worthy cause or keep them for a future building project.

5.     Plan for durability – Durability is one of the most important factors in green building. Selecting strong and durable materials ensures a long life. Choose materials that will stand the test of time requiring little or no remodeling in the future.

6.     Incorporate a recycling and composting center – Face it, families generate a lot of waste. Be sure to include a space for a family recycling center. Also consider yard waste. Include plans to have your own composting area in the backyard for grass clippings, leaves, etc.

7.     Choose green materials – Incorporate energy efficient and green building materials. Energy efficient materials include everything from insulation with a high R value to low flow toilets and Energy Star rated appliances. Also choose wood wisely. Look for wood products provided through sustainable wood companies.

 

There are many ways you can incorporate green building practices in the construction of you new home. Talk with your builder about these suggested techniques and any discuss other earth-friendly options the builder recommends for your area.

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