Considerations for Building a “Green” Home

If you are planning a new home construction project, you may have heard about the popular trend of building a “green” home.  But what exactly does that mean, and what are some important considerations for using green materials in the construction of your new home?  This month’s blog examines the advantages and disadvantages of building green and the different green construction materials and/or methods to consider in your home build.

What does green mean in construction?

As part of an overall focus on our climate, greater emphasis has been placed on environmentally responsible construction methods and materials.  This trend is termed “green” to associate with the natural ecosystem and the plant world.   

Over the last several years, green construction and standards in the commercial construction business have also influenced the residential home construction market.  Green construction is designed to use natural resources more effectively and reduce overall waste and environmental impact by using sustainable materials and methods.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of green construction?

If you are an environmentally conscious person and are planning to utilize green materials and construction methods, it is helpful to understand the advantages and disadvantages before taking this construction route.

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Green materials provide you with cost-savings over time. 
  • Homes with green materials are healthier for household members.
  • Some green materials provide greater efficiency for basic home functions like heating, cooling, and water.
  • Green construction materials are expensive and upfront costs may deter homeowners from going green.  Cost-savings are not realized right away.
  • Green materials are difficult to attain, especially during the current supply-chain problems experienced in the US.
  • The construction process may take longer when using green materials.

What are some examples of popular green construction materials and methods?

If you are considering a green home, discuss your intention with your builder and learn about the options available.

Here’s a short list of six common green materials used in new home construction:

  1. Solar shingles:  These renewable energy shingles are designed to blend in with your roof shingles.  While they function to protect your roof from the elements like your shingles, they provide a source of power to your home for various needs.
  2. Wool insulation:  This insulation is made from sheep’s wool and provides many benefits to your home’s insulation.  When the wool is bonded together to form insulation, they are biodegradable, sound-proof, and sustainable.  Wool is an excellent material that can absorb dangerous chemicals like formaldehyde and other toxins from the air within the home.
  3. Tankless Hot Water Heaters:  Tankless water heaters provide hot water “on demand” versus storing and maintaining a large amount of water like traditional water heaters.  These energy-efficient heaters last longer than traditional heaters because they do not store water.  
  4. Bark Siding:  Bark siding is a durable and attractive material used on home exteriors.  Because bark is readily available, it is a great option for siding a home, and it also creates a natural look to the home with the rest of the environment.  Poplar is a common bark siding used in many home construction projects due to its durability and look.
  5. Rainwater Collection Systems:  These are designed to collect rainwater and store it for use in outdoor watering.  These systems reduce the amount of water use by recycling clean rainwater.
  6. Recycled Steel:  Recycled steel is an alternative to traditional wood framing.  It is a strong product that absorbs C02 and helps to save trees in the natural environment.

Many green materials used in construction are designed to reduce the waste of traditional materials and provide similar or greater function.  There are ways you can also add green touches to the interior of your home, for example, with automatic lights that go on and off when you leave a room.  Enabling your home with SMART features allows you to control many functions to create better efficiency and use.

If you are interested in learning more about using green materials in your new home construction, speak with one of the builder consultants at Prominent Builders and Design.  We can explain to you the advantages and disadvantages of each one and what is available to incorporate into your home.