Green buildings are a way to enjoy the lifestyle we want, while still protecting the environment. Building a green building requires the builder to take into account the topography of the site, the regular climate, and the building materials required. Newer, lightweight building materials are great options for green buildings. Many of them are made with reclaimed materials that would otherwise be thrown away.
Planning a green building requires an analysis of the normal climate. In very hot areas, the goal will be to minimize solar access, and make use of any available breeze. In colder climates, external wall areas should be minimized, and solar access should be encouraged.
Anything that can be done during construction to help the building stay at a comfortable temperature without the use of mechanical climate control will help save energy.
In a hot climate, plan for the best exposure to natural breeze, and for shade. It is often helpful to plant native deciduous trees in strategic places around the home. As they grow, they can assist with shading the home and keeping it cool in the hottest of temperatures. Using reflective insulation will help keep heat out. It’s also wise to use light coloured roof materials because they won’t absorb the heat of the sun the way dark materials will.
In cold climates, plan for solar access. Use lots of insulation in the ceiling and walls to keep cold out and heat in. A south facing window will help absorb the heat of the sun and make the inside temperature a little warmer. Since most climates with cold winters also have warm summers, ensure that the house can be ventilated to take advantage of any breeze in the summer.
Green buildings don’t just have to be residential homes. Many businesses are looking into green buildings as a way to save energy and to promote themselves as eco friendly companies. Since many customers are concerned about the environment these days, building an eco friendly business will often attract the interest of many new customers.
Green lightweight building can be built in any size, but for the best energy savings, don’t build huge buildings just for the sake of size. If a smaller building will do, build it instead and pocket all the extra money you save on energy. If you find you start to outgrow your green building, you can always add on later. When the building is being built, plan for other energy saving practices, such as eco friendly lighting, automatic thermostats and other options that will help the building only use the energy it truly needs. It does not make sense to keep the air conditioner running on high all weekend long when no one is working in the building. Building a green building with sustainable lightweight construction is just the first step. Maintaining the green building in the long run is equally important.
By being sustainable, home and business owners can plan for a brighter future.