Getting the Lowdown on Green Building Techniques

Green building techniques focus on the concept that people are becoming more aware of the effect that their actions have on the environment. These techniques are focused on using a few key concepts to increase energy efficiency and design, the use of sustainable materials and reducing the impact that their home has on the environment.


Heating and cooling the inside of your home can account for up to 50 percent of the energy use of the average home. Poor insulation is the main cause of energy waste. Use spray foam to seal the gaps in the attic and the walls. Opt for six-inch wide wall studs instead of the usual four-inch wide when building outside walls and select high-efficiency Energy Star low E windows. Use caulk around all doors, windows, ductwork and chases where there may be gaps for air to enter.

Energy Efficient Equipment

Use electrical and mechanical equipment that is high-efficiency. Select heating and cooling systems, water heaters, lighting fixtures and appliances that feature the Energy Star blue label to ensure that the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency has deemed it as energy efficient. You may even opt for a tank-less water heater, which will save energy because it will not keep a tankful of water hot until needed.

Energy Efficient Design

When designing a home, design it with the wind and the sun in mind. To help make it energy efficient, plant shade trees on the south facing side of the house or incorporate overhangs that will shade the windows during hot summer months and allow the sun to warm the home during the cold winter months. For cross ventilation make sure to put windows on all sides of the house. Consider using skylights to brighten interior rooms.

Select Sustainable Building Materials

Anytime it is possible, use reclaimed lumber. Many areas feature reclaimed lumber sites or offer used construction material trading co-ops free. For decking and trim, use recycled plastic or composite wood. Select materials with long lifespans including cement board siding. Although you pay more initially, it will save money in the end because it will not need replacement for many years.

Design for a Low Impact on the Environment

Design buildings that require less land. The extra yard will absorb excess nutrients from the rainwater that will contribute to harmful run-off to watersheds that are nearby. When you design your exterior space, select patio and driveway materials that are permeable and will allow the water to soak in. Use plants for landscaping that are native to the area and will not require chemical treatments or fertilizer to grow. Use low flow toilets, water saver showerheads and water saver faucets.

Build for Clean Air

Certain building products release toxic chemicals and vapors into the air causing environmental damage and related health problems. Particleboard, plywood, plastics and paints are the largest offenders. Select alternative products that are labeled “low VOC” (volatile organic compounds) and formaldehyde-free plywood and particleboard. Alternately, you might select panels that are made of compressed plant materials such as strawboard or wheat board.


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