When I was in junior high school, my dad painted our house green. That’s not what we mean by a green home today, is it? We mean a sustainable home. Today, you can build a home to earn LEED certification. (That’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design.) LEED is green. But can you have a green home that wasn’t built that way?
Yes, but you probably can’t get it as green as a LEED-built home.
If you live in an apartment, you don’t have as much freedom to make alterations, but you can still make your home greener. After all, a green home means a new way of thinking and living as much as a new way of building or remodeling.
It’s also healthier to live in. It uses less water, energy, and other natural resources, too. Therefore, it’s cost-efficient.
A healthy green home
Indoor can often be more polluted than outdoor air. Nowadays, we try to eliminate drafts by sealing the inside off from the outside. That means that indoor air pollutants have nowhere to go.
Therefore using paints, carpeting, and upholstery that emits volatile organic compounds can make you sick. A green home doesn’t use any building materials that have these toxins.
It also combines natural ventilation with a mechanical heating and cooling system.
A cost-efficient green home
It might cost more to build a sustainable home. It certainly costs a lot to make a standard home green. But after all that work is done, the home costs less to live in. For one thing, it can use up to 40% less energy. Cooling and heating a home accounts for 20% of America’s annual energy use. Our appliances and gadgets use a lot, too.
Often, green homes take advantage of alternative energy, such as solar, biomass, geothermal, or even small wind turbines. Once these systems are in place, the sun and wind are free. These systems further reduce reliance on electric and gas utilities.
Low-flow toilets and showerheads use less water than ordinary fixtures. Outside the home, irrigation systems can also conserve water. Drought-tolerant landscaping can reduce the need to water it.
A sustainable home may also have some less obvious cost benefits. With a healthier home, you’ll spend less on doctors and medicine. You might be able to get a green-home discount on your insurance policy. Or even your mortgage. Because green building and remodeling use durable and high-quality materials, you’ll pay less for repairs.
And when it comes time to sell your home, it will bring a higher price.
Other environmental benefits
Green homes use fewer natural resources than conventional homes. Instead, they use recycled materials or materials salvaged from demolition projects. For natural resources, they often use bamboo or other fast-growing, renewable material. They use wood certified as environmentally responsible by the Forest Stewardship Council.
Finally, green building or remodeling generates less waste than conventional practices. Landfills everywhere are grateful.