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Five Principles of Green Home Design

A green home minimizes the negative impact on its environment through its home design. Here are a few considerations an architect takes into account when designing a green home:

1. Site: Evaluations and analysis of access, slope, ledge, soil, bodies of water, and vegetation in order to limit the home’s impact on the site environment. This includes the site location (farmland, wetland, protected species habitats) and proximity to public transportation, parks, schools, and stores.

2. Size: A green home is efficiently designed to keep the square footage to a minimum. This reduces the amount of energy to heat and cool the home, lighting, and the quantity of building materials used, and also controls costs and reduces site impact.

3. Solar: Whether or not there is a plan to install a solar energy system to heat the water or produce electricity, there are several other solar considerations in green home design. Designing the home for passive solar makes the most of solar energy by harvesting it into the homes’ natural energy flows. Passive solar systems include day-lighting strategies, heating and cooling control techniques, and natural ventilation. When a whole-building approach is taken, energy savings can be great both in terms of reducing the home’s carbon footprint and the costs associated with heating, cooling, and maintaining the home.

4. Energy: Lighting, heating, and cooling systems are an important consideration in green home design. Renewable energy systems such as solar, wind, and geothermal systems use the earth’s natural energy to heat and cool the home, as well as provide electricity to run appliances and technology..

5. Water Conservation: Building a new home presents a unique opportunity to save water. Two money and energy-saving strategies which can be easily incorporated into an energy efficient home design are 1) reducing the overall water using in the home by specifying low-flow water fixtures, low-flush or composting toilets, installing aerators on all taps, and installing low-flow showerhead nozzles; and 2) specifying a plumbing system that reuses grey water (wastewater from domestic usage such as dish washing, laundry and bathing) for flushing toilets, watering lawns, etc. (note: some grey water systems require approval by most local building jurisdictions, your architect will verify this prior to design).

Of course, a new home should use minimal amounts of fossil fuels, last a long time, and cost less money. Many home design strategies don’t cost a dime in materials but can save hundreds of dollars on heating and cooling costs. The result is a beautiful, healthy home – for both the homeowners and the environment.

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