4 Top Sustainable Home Construction Options
Green building has become a global trend. Today's homeowners want houses that are green and sustainable both during construction and throughout the life of the home. Trends show that they are willing to pay for these highly sought qualities. New sustainable technologies are becoming more common as demand increases. The following examples are some sustainable building trends that buyers should look for in their next home.
Homes That Make Their Own Power
In most areas, the conventional electrical grid means getting power from fossil fuels like coal. Many buyers are looking for ways to make their homes more sustainable by generating at least part of their own electricity on-site. This doesn't just offer a sustainability boost; it can also cut down monthly electric costs and provide security in the face of adverse weather and other factors that can cause power outages.
Solar is one of the best-known and most-popular options for an energy-efficient upgrade. Today's solar panels are sleek and low-profile and more energy-efficient than older models. Solar tiles, for instance, are nearly undetectable from the road, while offering a highly efficient power source. Solar water heaters are another option that can cut power bills and use passive solar energy to heat water for showers, sinks, and pools.
In many areas, other options for sustainable energy are being explored. Geothermal heat pumps can heat and cool homes by transferring heat either to or from the ground. Wind generators are an option for homes in geographic areas with regular, predictable winds.
Sustainable Home-Building Alternatives
Many home builders are looking at old-fashioned, natural building materials that have been updated in surprising ways. Straw bales have been a reliable construction material for hundreds of years. Today's straw bale homes use waste from the agriculture industry, which cuts down on the need for disposal, as well as the impact of sourcing materials. These homes' thick walls offer a great deal of insulation, which cuts power costs to keep homes cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Rammed earth is another ancient technology that is getting a new life in sustainable building. This building technique uses soil and binders in layers, which are compressed and hardened into durable construction. Often, waste materials from quarries are used for rammed earth blocks, which makes them a lower-emission product. They absorb heat during the day, which allows for passive heating of the home overnight.
Bamboo offers the aesthetic warmth of wood, but in a far more sustainable package. As a fast-growing grass, bamboo takes up fewer resources and can be replenished more quickly than wood. This material shows up in applications that range from countertops and tiles to trim, flooring, and decking.
Better Insulation Options
Heating and cooling accounts for the greatest part of a house's energy expenditures. By improving insulation, the energy used in that home can be cut down for the life of the structure.
Today's more sustainable insulation options are not just more efficient during use, however. They also cause fewer issues during construction. Conventional insulation can cause air and water pollution during production. It often requires mined materials, which can lead to soil erosion and other issues. To combat these problems, manufacturers are turning to a range of new materials with lower impact. Wool, for instance, is a material offered by a number of manufacturers. Wool insulation is 10% more efficient than fiberglass insulation, can pull harmful emissions from indoor air, and is also naturally flame-resistant.
Mushroom-based insulation materials also offer better insulation properties than conventional fiberglass. Because the mycelium fibers used to make this insulation can be grown without light underground, it is also less resource-intensive to cultivate.
In addition to well-known alternatives like compact florescent or LED bulbs, new homes can be constructed for more efficient lighting from the start. When homes are designed to maximize natural light, the need for artificial lighting is dramatically decreased. Additionally, living spaces with ample natural lighting feel more inviting, airy, and bright.
Clerestory windows, which are installed near the ceiling, bring a great deal of natural light inside without sacrificing privacy. This design element can also make homes look more spacious by adding the illusion of a second story. Sun pipes are an option that can add light even in basements or inner rooms without windows. The pipes consist of flexible tubing that connects to a glazed dome. Together, these elements reflect light into any part of the house where it is desired.
Some of these construction technologies offer great savings, while others offer smaller advantages that can add up over time. The more sustainable technologies that construction professionals adopt, the greater the net benefit. By looking at which sustainable perks houses in an area are offering, buyers can feel good about their choices both today and throughout the life of their home.