Articles & Info >

How To Build A Green Home

“We must start to think about an architecture that makes environmental sense, or someday we will indeed be forced to make our houses by hand. Architects must embrace new buildings with windows that open and close, rooms arrayed around courtyards, designed to take advantage of natural air and natural light.” – Jim Kunstler.

Building a green home takes a lot of time and dedicated planning. Now that we’ve already analyzed the concept of green building and are aware of all the benefits of green architecture it’s time to examine the core building fundamentals and explore the alternative green building strategies.

Here are five goals to keep in mind when building green;

  • The construction impact should be low
  • Resource efficiency through the life of the building
  • Long lasting
  • Nontoxic
  • Beautiful

If you’ve never been involved in the building industry or have little to no experience in the field it might be wise to consult a professional green architect or green builder to assist you in your design. Mr Green will be happy to provide you with advice or refer you to a green professional. However understanding the basic building fundamentals is rather simple.

A house and the human body both have a lot in common due to the fact that their core concern is to preserve human life. The human skeleton is much like the structure as is the mouth much like a door. The diagram below will visually explain and support this statement.

This comparison assists those who have little knowledge in the field to understand the importance of each building facet. Our article on the basic building fundamentals is a must read for those are either struggling with the basic working of building a home or to those who would like to get a quick recap of all the intricate workings. See our article on Building Fundamentals.

After reading this article you probably found that there are various alternatives to the building materials we have come to know and that making a shift isn’t as hard as you might have thought. Knowledge is power, and knowing what to use to contribute towards making your home a little greener is already a major first step.

Here is a basic guideline for you to follow on how to build a green home;

  • Do your research! This is the first and most vital step in building your own green house. There are various sites where you can examine all the new and innovative cutting edge technologies designed for green building. Finding what you’re looking for are often harder than you might think, so for a clear understanding of what you need contact us at Mr Green. This being said, you still have to know what you are actually looking for.

You have to take into consideration;

  • The climate including precipitation, winds, humidity and temperatures
  • The site where you want to build your home. Know the type of soil surrounding the area and all other geographic factors that might influence your building process.
  • Foundations, walls, floors, roof and windows are important facets in green building so try to get a broad selection of all your choices.
  • Heating and cooling systems and which appliances are most energy efficient.
  • Lighting is vital, design to make optimal use of natural light and opt for LED lighting in cases of artificial lighting.
  • Research the concept of Passive housing and incorporate it into your design. Proper insulation will have a considerable effect on your energy usage.

A green home is one that takes all the element and forms a harmonious working environment which ensures a more comfortable and sustainable lifestyle.

  • After researching all the factors involved in building a home you should have a rather clear understanding of the various green alternatives. Here are a few guidelines when designing and planning your new green home.
  • Choose your location wisely. Try to find a site that is not too far from your work. By living closer to work and all other necessary amenities you reduce your carbon emission from driving and can also opt for walking or riding a bike to work.
  • Once you have pinpointed the proximity for you green home inspect the building in the area. If you find an old home or closed store you might be able to build your green home at a more affordable rate. It’s easier to fix something if the groundwork is already there, and by adding a shade of green to an already existing structure will reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Take into account the orientation of the house, even if it’s already been built. The use of sunlight is of the utmost importance to always try to optimize the use of natural light.
  • Research the concept of thermal mass and thermal inertia. Insulation is one of the major factors in energy conservation.
  • A well designed green home relies on HVAC systems. Without proper ventilation and air filtration you will defeat the purpose of green building by human nature. If the room is still unventilated after think you built green you will most likely opt for harmful appliances to increase your level of comfort and consequently also your level of carbon emission.

As we’ve already mentioned, knowledge is power. So once you think you know everything there is to know about green building you will be surprised that what you’ve learned is only a drop in the bucket. Learn, learn, learn and then learn some more.

  • Invest in lighting packages that have motion sensors. It’s easy to forget to switch of a light every now and then, especially for children, so having one that always automatically switches off is incredibly beneficial.
  • Take different paints and compare ingredients. Most paints on the market are actually very toxic, not only to you but also the environment. Always opt for nontoxic paints when it comes to your home.
  • It’s rather frightening to know what harmful elements enter your home on a daily basis. One of the most dangerous is Radon gas which also causes cancer. This gas usually seeps in from the basement so preventing this would rely on you properly sealing your foundation.
  • In South Africa the summer climates can sometime become excruciatingly hot. Lighter colours on your wall and roof will ensure a higher reflectance level leaving your home cooler. It’s also beneficial to plant trees near and around your building, not only for the environment’s sake but also due to the fact that it’s a wonderful source of shade in the summer.

It’s our turn to do the right thing and place the needs of our planet first. By building and residing in a green home you greatly contribute to the conservation of the environment. For more information on green building don’t hesitate to contact us at Mr Green.