If you’re plotting development for a new home, you’ve probably heard about green building. The upfront cost might seem like too much to help save the environment, but there are many benefits when it comes to green building. Americans only represent 5% of the world’s population, but something needs to change if we want to keep going, and green building is part of the answer. Green building will not only save you money in the long run, but it will increase the quality of life inside and help promote biodiversity around you.
What is a Green Building?
When the term “green building,” comes up, people tend to have some preconceived notions. They may think that it refers to creating a building that runs entirely on vegetable oil, or a slightly more environmentally friendly version of a regular building. The EPA defines green building as, “the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and deconstruction. This practice expands and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort.” Building or remodeling a home to go green will have less of an effect on the surrounding environment. It also means a healthier living space for those inside and focuses on conserving energy wherever possible. While green building and remodeling might carry a higher initial cost, the health benefits, and savings down-the-road eventually outweigh this higher price.
The Benefits of Green Building
While going green with your home may seem like an idealist stance, it’s far more practical than you might think. In fact, 31% of home builders reported that 60% of their projects were green in 2015, and that number is only rising. There’s a market for green homes, and it looks like it’s the wave of the future.
Lessen Your Environmental Impact
The most obvious reason to build a green home is to lessen your environmental impact. You’ll do less damage to the surrounding environment and only use what you need to survive. There’s no reason to build a massive house for most people, and the environment suffers when humans get out-of-hand with their building. Building a home will disturb the natural habitat in some way or another. Green homes limit this impact, and can even benefit the surrounding wildlife when done correctly. You’ll waste less water and energy, improve the air quality of your surroundings, and promote and protect the biodiversity on your property. All of these benefits to green building are noble causes, but some people will doubtlessly remain skeptical. Building a house is a massive investment, and sometimes it’s easier to go with the known outcome rather than to try something new. On top of that, green building costs more, which can be a massive deterrent for most people.
Green building is expensive, but the prices are coming down. Every year the percentage seems to dip a little bit, and it looks hopeful that it will eventually cost the same as building a regular house. It’s impossible to deny that green building isn’t as cost-effective, but it can be argued that it will save you money in the long-term. For starters, building a green home means a better price if you ever decide to sell. Most people have to develop their own green homes, or completely remodel an existing house. If you have one already built, you can charge far more for the opportunity to save some money in other places. If you don’t plan on selling anytime soon, the cost associated with operating a green building is far lower than their regular counterparts. Energy consumption will be lower so your bills won’t be as high, and virtually everything else associated with a home will be cheaper apart from the initial materials. You should look at green building as an investment rather than a selfless act. Sure, you’re helping to save the environment, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. If you spend another two or three decades in the home, you’ll find that your costs are considerably lower than some of the buildings nearby.
Quality of Life
Green building isn’t all about preserving the outside environment, it’s also about creating the best environment for those inside the home. Air and water quality is far better in green homes than it is in standard homes. The sustainability of green homes allows their residents more freedom, and won’t shackle you to the ups and downs of energy companies. Building with the environment in mind will, in turn, create a better place for you to live. It might not be a mansion, but your quality of life will increase when you’re living in a healthy, environmentally conscious home.
There’s no official standard when it comes to green building, so it might not be as restrictive as you think. You may have heard stories about homes that create more energy than they use. While these homes would be ideal, they aren’t possible for most people who are looking to build a house. Ahead are some elements to consider when you’re making plans for your green building.
The first way to make a home green is to make it smaller. A large house could have all the elements of a green home, but it will still consume more energy than a small house without any considerations for the environment. Small homes are more energy efficient than larger homes by default, so you’ll want to downsize when you’re creating the building plans. You don’t have to build a tiny, one bedroom shack with barely any room to move to be environmentally friendly, but you have to put limitations on your plans. Create a list of essentials and expand from there. In the end, you may find that you can do more than you thought with less space.
Geothermal Heating and Cooling
Geothermal energy has a greater upfront cost, but it will lower your heating and cooling bills to virtually nothing once it’s up and running. The earth’s seasonal changes produce energy that will naturally heat and cool your home when you need it. This method is far cleaner than anything currently on the market and will pay for itself if you keep the home for a while. Additionally, these prices are only going down, so keep your eye on Geothermal energy if you’re looking toward the future.
Renewable energy is one of the cornerstones of green building, and solar is becoming increasingly popular and affordable. Some homeowners are even looking into solar power as a money-saving alternative without also considering the environmental impact. Solar power is getting cheaper and more cost-effective every year, and green homes are almost always outfitted with solar panels. Building a home from the ground-up gives you a unique opportunity to harness the power of the sun. Those who are adding solar panels to existing homes don’t have the same access as you do, and you can take full advantage. If your placement is ideal and you use other renewable resources for energy, you have the potential of creating enough energy to sell some back to the utilities. Of course, there are the tax benefits, grants, and incentives to help pad your pockets as well.
One of the places where green building can save you money is in insulation. Recycled materials cost far less than new materials for insulation, and they perform just as well if not better. Used materials like cotton, wood pulp, and wool are much cheaper than fiberglass or polyurethane and are more natural to boot. Even if you’re not sold on building green, using recycled insulation is a fantastic option for a new home. It will save you money and make sure the air quality is pristine.
While collecting rainwater is a practical and efficient way to conserve the water in your home, it’s not the only way. Building a new home means you can incorporate water-saving fixtures without too much of a hassle. These installations will not only reduce your overall footprint, but they’ll save you a lot of money down the line. Fixtures like tankless water heaters, water-efficient washers, and low flow faucet aerators will help limit the amount of water you waste in the house. These water fixtures are another practical way to incorporate green building even if you aren’t completely sold on the idea.
Saving the Environment and Enhancing Your Home
With everyone looking for ways we can reduce our carbon footprint, green homes are the wave of the future. If you’re building a new home, there’s no reason not to consider a green alternative. It may cost more initially, but you’ll save money over time, and it will end up paying for itself. As a society, we need to limit our energy consumption if we want to survive. Creating more green homes is a fantastic way to start, so be a part of the future and build green!