(NC)—It’s tempting to cut corners in a down economy, but that’s the last thing one should do in the construction of a new house. Owning a home with superior efficiency will pay high dividends for years to come.
“A green home uses less energy and natural resources,” says Todd Blyth at Nudura, the manufacturer of insulated concrete forms. “It creates less waste and is healthier and more comfortable for the occupants. Equally important benefits include lower energy bills, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and less exposure to mold, mildew and other indoor toxins. As a result, the net cost of owning a sustainable home is comparable to cost of a conventional one.”
The four key areas to ensure the best human and environmental health are: water efficiency, energy efficiency, material selection, and indoor environmental quality. Here’s a useful little checklist as a guideline:
• Use LEED certified materials: This internationally acclaimed benchmark by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design provides a third-party certification program, setting an international benchmark for the construction and operation of high performance sustainable buildings.
• Start with concrete, not wood: With concrete walls by Nudura, combined with their ceiling and floor technology, you’ll get several key green components all in one. The system consists of stay-in-place, interlocking concrete forms. With this Lego-like method (of reinforced concrete sandwiched between two layers of expanded polystyrene foam insulation) the total building envelope stands to be up to nine times stronger, far more fire resistant, and far more sound insulated. Furthermore, this innovation (nudura.com) is design-friendly for architects, much faster for builders, creates less construction waste, and provides defence against toxicity and mold that is so often a associated with traditional wood framed walls. And of equal importance, it’s a building method that will deliver energy savings of up to 70 percent.
• Aim for indoor water conservation: Ask about greywater irrigation and rainwater harvesting.
• Insist on energy efficiency: In addition to a concrete structure, some of the more popular choices for conservation include: an ‘earth sheltered’ architectural design; installing efficient ducts, lighting and fans; planning for gas or solar hot water, heating and cooling systems.
• Ask for green materials: Structural choices range from fume-free paints, finishes and adhesives, to sustainable floor coverings, sidings and trim.