Eco-homes are on the rise. The impact of conventional construction practices, inefficient buildings and nonrenewable resources is taxing ecosystems, waterways, air quality and the health of humans and animals worldwide. Architects, builders, manufacturers and retailers are responding to consumer demands by offering more eco-friendly options at affordable prices. (See References 5)
Smart and thoughtful design is a crucial first step in building an eco-friendly home. Consider the climate and location of your home. Orienting your home to maximize the benefits of the sun, shade and breeze can save you thousands of dollars in heating and cooling throughout the life of the structure. Likewise, planning for overhangs, rainwater catchment, solar thermal hot water systems, natural light and grey water reuse can ensure your home is as energy- and cost-efficient as possible. (See References 1)
Eco-friendly building materials vary greatly, but they all have resource efficiency in common. These materials may be made from recycled content or harvested from sustainably managed sources. They might be salvaged, refurbished or remanufactured or be reusable, recyclable or more durable than conventional materials. Eco-friendly materials are also manufactured in ways that minimize waste, pollution, greenhouse gases and energy consumption. (See References 2)
Build an energy-efficient home to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, pollution and save money. Effectively insulate and seal your home, including exterior walls, attics and floors. Invest in energy-efficient windows with such features as double panes, protective coatings and improved frames. Purchase efficient and appropriately sized heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems (HVACs). Look for the Energy Star rating when purchasing HVACs, home appliances, lighting, water heaters and electronics. (See References 3)
Buildings and transportation combined account for about 62 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Where you construct your home is as vital to environmental health as how you construct your home. Ideally, it should be located within walking or biking distance to the places you frequent the most, such as work, school, and shopping and recreation areas. (See References 4 and 6)
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Whole House; Dec. 2, 2010
- "The Construction Specifier"; Environmental Assessment and Specification of Green Building Materials; Lynn M. Froeschle; October 1999
- Energy Star: Features and Benefits of Energy Star Qualified New Homes
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Location Efficiency and Housing Type — Boiling It Down to BTUs; April 7, 2011
- Greenspace: Economic Sense
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; 2011 Draft U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report; April 14, 2011
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
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