Green Design

How “Green” do you want to be?

This is a question I always ask a client when he or she says they want to design and build a “Green” home. I often have clients that want to design a “Leed” certified home. A Leed home is a “Green” home on steroids and can go from the least expensive just plain “Leed” certified to “Leed” Platinum. Again, I ask the question how “Leed” do you want to be?

There are many different levels of “Green” homes and there are lots of “Green” options that do not cost a lot of money, but then there are many that do. It’s always a good idea to work with someone who can help you determine if that extra insulation or more expensive window is worth the up-charge. You should evaluate how much money you will save in energy bills over the life of the product to determine if the extra money spent is a good investment. A typical example of this is the different efficiency ratings of heating and air conditioning systems. As the seer/effeciency rating of each system goes up so does the price. At some point going up to that next level of efficiency will not save you any more money on monthly utility bills.

So, I ask again, how “Green” do you want to be? Sooner or later money spent becomes an issue. As I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of building techniques that are “Green” and do not cost a lot of extra money. There are a lot of building materials that are made of recycled or earth friendly materials which are “Green” for the environment, but do not necessarily save energy. The purchase of energy efficient appliances and water heaters can save a lot of money and be a very affordable option. Site orientation, the placement of windows and the use of covered areas to minimize heat loss and heat gain is an inexpensive way to be “Green” also.

Another option, having to do with the site, is the collection of rain water to use for sanitary or sprinkler systems. This will require a roofing material that is metal or of some hard surface that does not shed granules from the roofing product into the collection area. The typical composition shingle is not a viable option for this type of system. Working with a design professional that understands “Green” and can assist you on where to draw the line on cost verses reward for the use of “Green” materials and systems can be well worth the money.

Although there are many house plans that claim to be “Green”, it would be wise to do a cost analysis on the “Green” products specified. Any house plan can be “Green”, whether it happens with building materials, building systems, or site and landscape options, it boils down to how “Green” do you want to be? We at Living Concepts Home Planning can assist you with making any of our house plans “Green”.

Frank Snodgrass, Architect

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