Monday, May 5, 2008

How To Reduce the Carbon Footprint of Your New Green Home

In building a new green home, minimizing negative impact on the environment and reducing its carbon footprint should be taken into consideration at the outset of the design process. Here are some sustainable design considerations for your green home:

1. Site analysis: Evaluations and analysis of access, slope, ledge, soil, bodies of water, and vegetation in order to limit impact on the site environment. This includes the site location (farmland, wetland, protected species habitats) and proximity to public transportation, parks, schools, and stores.

2. Size: Sustainable homes are efficiently designed to keep the square footage to a minimum. This reduces the amount of energy to heat and cool the home, lighting, and the quantity of building materials used.

3. Solar considerations: Whether or not you plan to install a solar energy system, there are several solar considerations in a green design. Designing the home for passive solar makes the most of solar energy by harvesting it into the homes’ natural energy flows. Passive solar systems include day-lighting strategies, heating and cooling control techniques, and natural ventilation. When a whole-building approach is taken, energy savings can be great both in terms of reducing the home’s carbon footprint and the costs associated with heating, cooling, and maintaining it.

4. Energy systems: Lighting, heating, and cooling systems are an important consideration in the design of your new green home – whether it be a post and beam, timber frame, structural insulated panel, or conventionally-built home. Renewable energy systems include solar, wind, and geothermal systems. Each system uses the earth’s natural energy to heat and cool your home, as well as provide electricity to run appliances and technology. (More on renewable energy systems in upcoming blogs.) Water usage, including toilets, showerheads, and sink faucet aerators, is an important sustainable design consideration.

5. Building materials: There are many exterior and interior material choices to make in building a green home. Energy efficient foundations and building insulation systems are the biggest decisions you’ll make. Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) foundations have proven to be very energy efficient and a green building product. Bonin Architects & Associates highly recommends structural insulated panels for your home, whether combined with post and beam construction or timber framing, or as a stand-alone thermal building envelope. Other recycled and reclaimed material options are available for roofing, siding, and decking. Recycled and reclaimed timbers are also available for a post and beam or timber frame home.

Jackie Lampiasi, Marketing Director
Bonin Architects & Associates, PLLC

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