Sometime back, I posted an article called “It’s Easy Being Green” to this blog. It seems appropriate to come back to that topic, because it bears repeating.
Green building is the application of common sense to the way we build. For every project, one starts with a palette of materials. If a designer/builder uses them wisely and respects what each specific material wants to do, there will be little waste on a project. Let’s see: little waste, little shipped to the landfill. Check.
As a plant follows the sun, so should we. If we pay attention to how a building is sited, we can take advantage of the sun’s position and the energy that is available at no cost to all of us. Proper placement of glass, overhangs, and appropriate allocation of interior spaces will result in spaces that are heated by the sun in winter, but shaded in summer. In my part of the country, these considerations are particularly important for outdoor spaces. As an example, a west facing porch is worthless late in the day when most of us have time to use it. An east facing porch, on the other hand yields a wonderful place to enjoy breakfast and most days, dinner, particularly if there is a stream or river nearby. Absent a body of water, a screened porch with appropriate landscaping around it will allow one to enjoy the sounds of nature. Let’s see: passive solar design; a little common sense. Check
Now that we have a house that’s built to common sense metrics, we need to install a high performance thermal package consisting of insulation, air barriers, and a high efficiency HVAC system. There are many ways to insulate and air seal a house, and I’m not out to promote any particular system, particularly since there is no “one size fits all” system. Nowadays, efficient HVAC equipment is readily available and not terribly expensive. A little common sense in the design and construction of the duct system along with the introduction of the appropriate amount of fresh air and removal of the appropriate amount of humidity should have interior comfort exactly where it should be. Thermal performance. Check.
Fold in a high efficiency lighting system incorporating as much daylighting as possible. For daylighting, refer to paragraph three above. Daylighting. Check.
Finally, make common sense choices of materials. After all, we don’t want to poison the occupants of our buildings, nor do we wish to poison society at large through the environmental impact of extracting, manufacturing, and transportation of materials. Green products. Check.
Stir it all together and the result should be a green building that will last for generations to come. Satisfaction for doing the right thing. Check.