The Impact of Design on “Green”

Green is everywhere!! Isn’t that grand! It is great to see magazine articles, new products and the entire buzz about being Green! So, for me it is surprising to talk to people that still think Green Building is all about bamboo flooring, concrete counter tops and solar panels. I recently had the opportunity to talk with a quality green builder about his clients. He said that he has to be really careful about how he presents his ideas about building green for fear of scaring them into thinking that it will be too expensive and lose the client. He asked me if I had experienced the same problem. I told him that our clients get a basic education about the importance of the design and the science behind proper building techniques. This helps people understand that with proper planning and design and a reputable green builder, they will get a green home before spending any money on all the bells and whistles.

The design is critical. The home must fit the site and the home must fit the owner to avoid wasting energy. The energy that you first think about is what you buy from the power company. If the home is oriented with the broad side of the home facing East and West, then there is more solar gain and heat absorption. The simple fix is to reorient the home. In a subdivision where streets are planned to run East to West, then you will have the broad sides of your homes facing North and South, resulting in less solar gain. Proper shading of windows with awnings, covered patios and vegetation will also make a big difference.

Also consider how your home is designed from the inside. Volume ceilings are dramatic, but are expensive to heat and cool. Create night time and day time zones in your home. This way you can program your thermostats to heat and cool mainly the sides of the home you are occupying.

The other kind of energy that is commonly not considered is your personal energy you may waste in a home that is not designed specifically for you. A home that is too big is too vast to be comfortable on a human scale. You can lose touch with your family members and spend more time than necessary cleaning and traveling through your home. A home with spaces not suitable for your specific lifestyle are forced to fit into some other use, and spaces that you need do not exist.

In the interest of learning more about designing and building Green homes with out spending all your “Green”; this summer for your reading enjoyment we will highlight features of designing and building green. Watch for our June Newsletter about the value of proper insulation and what it has to do with keeping your home dry!!