Green Design Strategies


The following concepts can be used in whole or in part to provide a house that:
• Doesn’t squander scarce non-renewable resources (oil, gas, old growth trees).
• Doesn’t harm the environment
• Is free of toxic chemicals, dust, pollen, bacteria & allergens
• Reduce utility costs & reduce maintenance

Energy Efficiency:
• Geothermal heat pumps (provides heating and cooling at a fraction the cost of conventional systems, but are the most expensive).
• High efficiency HVAC equipment (SEER rating: +14)
• Spray foam insulation (open cell or closed cell, soy bean based)
• Wet spray cellulose insulation (85% recycled content: newspapers)
• Cotton (old denim) batt insulation (natural fibers with no allergens)
• Energy recovery ventilation (ERV) system
• Tankless water heater
• Solar water heater
• Programmable thermostats
• Air sealing the building envelope
• High performance windows (double or triple glazed with low E glass)
• Energy Star appliances & lighting

Water Efficiency:
• Drought resistant landscaping (reduce water use)
• Rainwater collection (reuse water for lawn & plant watering)
• Dual flush toilets (saves 7000 gallons/year)
• “WaterSense” rated plumbing fixtures (by the EPA)
• Hot water recirculating pumps activated by motion sensors (significant water & energy savings)

Renewable Energy Sources:
• Geothermal heat pumps
• Solar hot water heating (generates electricity and/or hot water)
• Wind power (generates electricity)

Site Planning & Site Preparation:
• Site work that minimizes environmental impact before & after construction
• Proper building orientation to maximize solar gain (passive solar)
• Erosion control
• Use natural/native landscaping (reduces water consumption)
• Plant trees for summer shade
• Use of permeable paving materials to minimize water runoff

Project Design:
• Smaller building footprint
• Locally appropriate design
• Deep overhangs to reduce summer heat gain

Indoor Air Quality:
• Whole house balanced ventilation system
• Prevent pollutant sources (non-toxic, formaldehyde free materials)
• Electrostatic air cleaners (trap 99% of pollen & mold spores, 98% of bacteria sized particles, 94% of respirable dust & 80% of virus-sized particles)
• Radon mitigation

Construction “Best Practices”:
• Air sealing the building envelope
• Water managed detailing (“rain screen” walls, flashing, etc).

Material selection:
• Use of recycled & salvaged materials (i.e. wood timbers)
• Use of sustainable materials (i.e. bamboo flooring)
• Non-toxic, formaldehyde-free materials (i.e. plywood, insulation, cabinets)
• Lumber: engineered lumber (saves old growth forests)
• Siding: fiber cement siding, cedar clapboards or shingles
• Roofing: shingles made from recycled plastic, stone coated metal roofing,
• Decking: wood composite decking (i.e. “Trex”)
• Paint: low or zero VOC paints & water based paints or stains
• Flooring: FSC certified wood flooring, bamboo, cork, linoleum, carpet made of recycled plastic.
• Electrical: CFL or LED lights

Sources for green certification:
• Energy Star (energystar.gov)
• Forest Stewardship Council (fscus.org)
• WaterSense (epa.gov/watersense)
• Ecologo (ecologo.org)
• Greenguard (greenguard.org)
• Green Seal (greenseal.org)
• Green Products 3rd Edition: The Greenspec Guide to Residential Bldg. Materials
• Greenspec-listed products available online @ www.buildinggreen.com/menus