Six Green Construction Considerations
The following points apply to all new construction, once the decision
is made that a building project needs to be undertaken.
- Small is Beautiful. Since 1970, Americans have doubled
the amount of residential, worship, educational and commercial
interior per capita. The trend towards ever more "necessary" space
is a major ecological burden on our limited Earth. Extra space means
extra energy and other resources for heating, cooling, building
materials, cleaning and maintenance supplies. Most people do not
realize that there is a comfort range between destitution or space
shortage and over-affluence or too much space. A wise green
construction principle is to build only the space needed to attain
the end result desired. Older people want accessible and handy
space, not an excessive expanse of it for quality living.
- Local Building Materials. Plan to construct with local
building materials (brick, stone, sand, pressed earth, wood, etc.).
Some recyclable building materials can be obtained in excellent
condition virtually everywhere. Reusing windows and frames, flooring
and other components is good economy and a model practice for others
to follow at a time when most prefer higher priced but often lower
quality new products.
- Renewable Energy Advantages. Solar or wind energy
should be considered in construction of green buildings. Where possible,
make use of unobstructed southern exposures. Consider passive solar
space design, heat retaining materials, solar photovoltaic arrays, solar
water heating units, and possible solar greenhouse additions.
- Energy Efficiency Measures. Energy efficiency measures should
be undertaken, especially using energy efficient double-pane windows
with proper glazing. Thermal insulation requirements should be met in
full to help reduce heating and cooling bills. Choose installed
appliances with energy efficiency rating in mind. Make compact
fluorescent lighting the primary mode of lighting rooms, corridors, exit
signs, etc., in order to achieve maximum energy efficiency. Where
possible, berm or inset new construction into hillsides to allow for the
use of earth as an insulating material and as a possible heat source.
- Water Conservation Devices. Use low-flow devices for toilets,
showers and for faucets. In dryer climates consider a rainwater cistern
for watering houseplants, flower beds and for other uses. An ideal
situation is one where greywater is recycled for growing plants or
drained into constructed wetlands.
- Native Greenspace. Value greenspace. Use native grasses,
flowers and shrubs to the highest degree possible. Plant native or
naturalized trees with preference for deciduous shade trees in the south
and southeast and evergreens as windbreaks in the traditional winter
wind direction (generally north and west). Ring property with trees or
selected woody plants as vegetative privacy barriers.