Green: It’s Not Just a Color, It’s a Way of Life
What do you think of when you hear sustainable or green home? Until recently, the term Green Design conjured images of hobbit homes, Earth dwellings, or super high-tech structures that looked like anything other than a home. Fortunately, those days are in the past.
Enter the age of efficiency, beauty, comfort, and care. Homes capable of providing health and vitality to its occupants AND the land on which it rests.
Green Home Definition
A Green Home is a home designed and built to reduce or eliminate negative impacts on the natural environment and the human body. In construction and operation, Green Homes preserve precious natural resources and enhance quality of life. Green practices conserve raw materials, energy, water, AND money!
A Green home is one that will last; it is durable,
flexible, accessible, healthy, and loveable.
NOTE: A Green Home is NOT synonymous with a High-Performance Home. Many designers have replaced the term ‘Green’ with ‘High-Performance’, however there are MANY more components involved in making a home perform highly and they can include Green design or not.
Green design can be a component of High-Performance if the material selections and building practices also minimize the impact on the environment, though this is not a requirement.
High-Performance homes can be designed such that the home performs highly, it’s airtight and insulated well, utility bills are minimized, it’s durable, and comfortable without having minimized environmental impacts during its build or materials selection. These homes are not Green though they may be High-Performance.
At Pippin Home Designs, we educate our clients about the possibility for a home that achieves the attributes of BOTH! Pippin IMPACT Homes Intentionally Maximize Performance, Adaptability & Comfort for Tomorrow.
Whole House Design
We’ve all heard of ENERGY STAR® appliances and low-energy use LED lightbulbs. While the use of these products is certainly more sustainable than the alternative, a home that doesn’t incorporate Green design in all its functions will not be able to optimize the use of these products.
The National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) argues that sustainability has to be part of the whole design process, from the very start of the project. All home systems are interrelated: accessibility, aesthetics, cost-effectiveness, functionality, productivity (comfort and health of occupants), security and safety, and sustainability. Green design is a component that cannot simply just be an add-on. It must be incorporated into the whole house system.
This highlights the importance of selecting a home designer who is knowledgeable about the ways in which your home functions as a whole, how green design can be considered with every aspect, and the best practices available to meet your goals and budget.
What are Your Options?
Many people are misled to believe that a Green Home will cost more, or they think the Whole House Design approach means they must include all available Green products and techniques.
In reality, there are more Green products and techniques than you can count and using all of them is simply not feasible. Which means you can pick and choose which features, materials, products, and techniques work best for you. Pippin Home Designs can plan for a Whole House Green approach using the components you’ve selected.
We work closely with our clients to make sure they understand their various options. We suggest those that have proven to be efficient and effective, while offering solutions to save money and enhance comfort.
6 Key Features of Green Homes
1. Energy Efficiency
There are MANY different options for energy efficiency in a home. Here we will only highlight a few of the solutions that can produce the biggest impact. Simple product selection like ENERGY STAR® lighting and appliances can greatly minimize your energy use and therefore energy bill.
Passive solar is the strategic utilization of solar energy without the use of photovoltaic cells (solar panels). Passive solar techniques use windows, walls, and floors to collect, store, reflect, and distribute solar energy. Heat from the sun is deflected in hot summer months and absorbed in winter. Components of passive solar include window placement and size, window glazing type, thermal insulation, thermal mass, and shading.
Active solar systems use solar panels that collect energy from the sun. The energy is then converted into a form used to heat water, air, or other kind of fluid. Solar panels are a great way to generate your own electricity and offset costs of living. The technology of solar is rapidly improving, growing more efficient, effective, and now more aesthetically appealing. Solar roof tiles, created by Tesla, are sleek roofing tiles that double as miniature photovoltaic cells such that the entire surface area of the roof collects solar energy, which is then stored in a battery bank to be used when needed.
Your designer needs to be able to strategically position your home on the property to work with the path of the sun, while simultaneously taking into consideration the local climate and other natural features, such as tree coverage and exposure to the elements, for your passive and active solar design to be effective.
2. Water Efficiency
Water-saving plumbing fixtures reduce the amount of water used with daily household operation.
Water-smart landscaping is the technique of working WITH mother nature. The following are some of the most effective methods of water-smart landscaping:
These affordable upgrades and easy techniques add up to improve the environment and your bank account.
3. Sustainable & Durable Materials
The more durable the material used, the less maintenance, repair, and replacement will be required, thereby saving you time and money while cutting back on the amount of raw materials needed.
Responsibly harvested woods are far more sustainable than exotic materials made from threatened tree species. Locally obtained woods and stone eliminate the need for long-haul transportation, cutting back on the carbon footprint of your home.
Prioritize safer materials that don’t contain toxic compounds to lower your exposure to toxins, as well as minimize the use of toxins in the industry.
Being mindful of all selections you make during the construction process will help ensure that your project is not adding to the long-term effects of pollution in the environment.
4. Indoor Air Quality
Did you know that humans, on average, spend up to 90% of their life indoors? While pollution has been a hot topic for many years, it’s often only referred to as outdoor environmental pollution. According to the EPA, “concentrations of some indoor pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations”.
Some indoor pollution sources include:
Serious long-term exposure of indoor pollutants can lead to respiratory diseases, heart disease, and even cancer. The EPA says, “it is prudent to try to improve the indoor air quality in your home even if symptoms are not noticeable”.
Solutions to Improve Indoor Air Quality
Here at Pippin Home Designs, we focus on the highest level of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) for all our clients. Achieving this is a combination of intelligent design and smart product selection.
Your HVAC system, when designed properly, filters out harmful pollutants while circulating fresh air throughout your home.
FACT: An efficient and effective HVAC system is designed specific to your homes cubic feet of air volume, NOT the square feet of floor space. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Since most homeowners these days are desiring lofty ceilings and open floor plans, the volume of air to be filtered and circulated can be far greater than the square foot of the house plan could estimate.
A home designed with a tight building envelope can help keep outdoor pollutants like ground level radon and pesticides outdoors, while maintaining and circulating clean indoor air throughout your home efficiently.
The strategic design of window and door placement allows fresh air to enter while indoor pollutants exit, thereby reducing the concentration of pollutants inside your home.
5. Waste Reduction
According to the EPA fact sheet, “600 million tons of construction and demolition debris were generated in the United States in 2018, which is more than twice the amount of generated municipal solid waste”. 145 million tons of that debris was sent to landfills, whereas the rest was directed for reuse mostly as aggregate materials.
This staggering tonnage of waste that ends up in landfills every year could be greatly reduced by upcycling reclaimed wood and steel from retired barns, home remodeling companies, salvage yards, and excavation companies.
Choosing to remodel an existing structure as opposed to knocking it down to build new prevents the creation of a lot of unnecessary waste.
At Pippin Home Designs, we’ve become known for our extensive Green remodels. We transform old structures into homes that appear new while incorporating sustainability into each of its phases of construction and design.
6. Sustainable Design
A ‘Green’ designer protects air, water, energy, and earth by intelligently designing structures that work with Mother Nature.
A ‘Green’ designer also understands that humans are a part of the natural ecosystem, extending the benefits of sustainability to the human body by choosing building materials and practices that enhance health and wellness.
At Pippin Home Designs, our Green design methods begin with selecting the optimal location on your property for your home, driveway, septic system if needed, and any outdoor living spaces desired. While visiting your homesite we study the natural beauty your property has to offer, determine direction of best views, and consider how we can do minimal harm to the natural habitat by preserving trees and protecting waterways.
Consider traditional practices of clearing a lot, bulldozing all trees, and altering the terrain entirely before building. This is an unnecessary waste of money, time, and resources, not to mention the scar left of the earth takes many years to recuperate. In the temperate climate of North Carolina, even the fastest growing shade producing trees take 25-30 years to reach maturity.
We utilize the natural habitat and preserved trees to maximize sheltering and protection from winds and the elements to extend the lifetime of building materials. This saves money in repairs and reduces the need to replace raw materials.
We study the path of the sun across your property to maximize natural light throughout your home which reduces the need for powered light. By strategically designing covered porches and overhangs, views and natural light are preserved while direct rays of the sun are prevented from overheating the home in summertime. Designing for the sun path greatly reduces demands on your HVAC system and saves lots of money.
Because your house is a functioning system, all of its processes, from heating and air conditioning, ventilation, insulation, and window placement, to how well the building is sealed are all interrelated and determine the outcome of the performance of the home. Careful planning of these components will provide a healthy, high performing, environmentally conscious home that not only saves the environment, it saves you money and enhances your home’s value.
Your home should be a place that you love to be in. We believe everyone deserves a sustainable sanctuary. We are here to help you live well and sustainably every step of the way in your new home design or renovation!
Our Award-Winning Homes with a View are designed to fully support your life and those you love! Give us a call or email us today!