Green Home Design Reduces Carbon Footprint

A green home minimizes the negative impact on its environment through its home design. Here are a few considerations your 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.

3. Solar: Whether or not you plan to install a solar energy system to heat your 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 your home, as well as provide electricity to run appliances and technology. Water usage, including toilets, showerheads, and sink faucet aerators, is another important green home design consideration.

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

Benefits of Building a Green Home

Why build a green home? Every positive action counts. Many people assume that if you are going to build a green home, you’ll be spending far more money than a regular home. This is not true.

From my vantage point, any improvement to any portion of the home building process helps the environment. According to the Brookings Institution, by the year 2030 there will be 34 million new housing units constructed and 23 million existing units will be replaced. Imagine the impact on the environment that any small change could make when we consider the construction of 57 million housing units by the year 2030 (the Brookings Institution estimates there will be 34 million new housing units constructed and 23 million existing units replaced over the next 21 years). Now imagine the impact of the amount of energy consumed by those 57 million units during a conservative estimate of a 50 year building life span!

In the United States, approximately 40% of energy consumption is attributed to non-industrial buildings (residential) and 32% is in heating & cooling alone – it’s staggering! The global climate, carbon dioxide, natural resource depletion and increasing energy demands are all relevant and of great concern.

If you wish to have the largest effect for the smallest effort & investment, work with an experienced architect to design and build a better insulated home with durable, low maintenance materials, more efficient heating and cooling systems, utilize natural day-lighting and perhaps even harness some of the available solar energy to produce hot water or even electricity in a solar power home. Look into geothermal and wind power. Small steps in aggregate will have a significant impact.

The result will be enormous to the environment. Better yet, your green home will be healthy and you’ll spend far less on energy bills, building maintenance, and material replacement costs.

Northern New England Home Show, Manchester, NH

Bonin Architects & Associates is exhibiting this weekend at the Northern New England Home Show, Manchester, New Hampshire. Stop by our booth (#1703) and talk to us about your plans to build a green home! Feel free to bring your ideas and sketches. We'll be able to help you get started on a home design that will fit your family's wants and needs, make the most of your site, help protect the environment, and save you money in energy costs.

If your building plans are affected by the Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act which protects New Hampshire lakes and ponds, we can create a home design that meets your needs and preserves the environment in accordance with the regulations.

Make plans to see the seminar "Green Home Design" by Jeremy Bonin, AIA NCARB LEED AP at the show Friday at 6:30 PM, Saturday 11:00 AM, or Sunday 11:00 AM. You'll learn about sustainability, guiding principles of green home design, the phases of design, passive green design, and active green design.

Show information:
Northern New England Home Show
The Center of New Hampshire @ Radisson Hotel
700 Elm Street
Manchester, NH

Why Hire an Architect For Your Home Design?

Architecture plays a unique role in our everyday life. An architect has the expertise to combine your wants, needs, and aspirations with your goals of energy efficiency and sustainability to successfully match your project objectives.

Architecture affects people every moment of every day. We reside in homes where we sleep, cook, eat and spend time with our families; we typically travel to a building to work or a school to learn. Architects address requirements such as function, aesthetics, economics, environment, safety, and regulations and translate these into a
home design that matches each owner’s personal taste and family dynamic.

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards defines the role of an Architect as "the primary building professional qualified to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public through the enhancement of the quality of the built environment and the richness of space and form”. Buildings inhabited during those functions are essential to our lives and our health. Architects are ethically bound to continually better that built environment.

For instance, Architecture entails more than just a physical building. It involves:

· Correctly interpreting the client’s dreams, visions, and objectives
· Exploring all possibilities
· Studying and responding to the site and its environment
· And translating all these into a home design that will exceed expectations

Sustainable architecture or green building is only a small part of a greater whole. It has been said many times that “sustainability” is a good short term goal for home design. Sustainability is simply the equilibrium, a tipping point where we are no longer damaging the planet that we inhabit with the effects of our daily lives through manufacturing, power production, construction, transportation, agriculture which affect our global ecosystem. Sustainability, by definition, is actually the point at which we cease to harm the environment. Beyond sustainability is where we begin to repair the damage done, which, ultimately, is the goal.

There are many great minds working toward both of these goals with ideas and solutions far greater than most people’s typical reach; however, anything that can be done better and is financially feasible should be done.

Green architects enrich the design and the project through integrity, conscientious design, environmental awareness, and the application of skills specific to their trade – keeping the ultimate goals of energy efficiency and sustainability clearly in view. Should your home design be anything less?

Sustainable, Energy Efficient, and Green - What's the difference?

One of our frequently asked questions is the difference between sustainable, green, and energy efficient.

“Energy efficient” may specifically refer to the home’s energy consumption. A home’s energy usage is primarily heating and cooling. Appliances tend to be the second largest draw now that incandescent lighting is giving way to compact fluorescents, LEDs and other lighting options.
Energy efficient homes include one or more systems and/or materials, such as specifying EnergyStar® appliances, using CFL fixtures, instantaneous hot water heaters as well as more broad items such as a tight building envelope, high-quality windows, higher R-values in the walls and roof, and the design of the home maximizing passive solar design strategies, all of which reduce energy consumption from day one.

“Green”, “energy efficient” and “sustainable” all imply some decision to incorporate an effort in the home design and construction process to improve the negative impact construction and a building’s life have on the environment. “Green” and “sustainable” are blanket terms commonly used to address issues ranging from sensitive site design, materials selections from local sources, alternative energy efficient construction types, and alternative energy / heating and cooling options. All of the previously mentioned items, plus many more, address topics such as water usage, energy or power consumption, indoor air quality and rapidly renewable material and construction resources.

I find “sustainable” to be one of the most interesting terms to discuss. In its everyday usage, it most commonly means to design in an ecologically conscious manner. Yet “sustainable design” or “sustainable construction” is only a milestone in the design and construction process for our future - sustainable only means that we cease to damage our environment and that we may continue on our current path without negative effect. The ultimate goal is to restore damages that have been done, to bring a regenerative process into our building efforts.

Bonin Architects & Associates, PLLC
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