Eco-Friendly Building Materials
When you’re building a new home, there are many things you will likely consider. You want the building process to be reasonably economic, you want your building materials to last, and you want them to be energy efficient throughout the life of your home. To accomplish this some forethought is required in order to include as many energy and eco-friendly building materials as possible. Here are a few possibilities you may want to consider.
One of the things that makes a home more energy efficient is its ability to hold its temperature, regardless of summer heat or winter cold. One way to do this is to choose Low Emissivity (Low-E) windows. These windows will require more of an upfront investment. They normally cost 10-15% more than standard glass storm windows, however with energy costs lowered up to 20% it won’t take long before you’ve earned back your money and helped the environment at the same time.
Recycled Wood/ Plastic Composite Lumber
Re-using materials that might otherwise wind up in a landfill is another way to make your new house a little more green. Using Recycled wood or plastic composite lumber helps accomplish this. These materials are increasingly common in playground equipment, and the National Association of Home Builders reports that using waste plastic along with wood fibers creates lumber that is less toxic and more durable than standard treated lumber. It also resists mold and rot, making it a great choice for decks and patios.
Radiant Floor Heat
Another consideration is how you are going to provide heat to your home, especially if you live in an area with cold winters. This form of heat rises from out of the floor and can be fueled by heated air, electricity, or hot water. In residential homes, hot water or hydronic systems are used most often because they are the most cost effective. Tubing is laid under the floor, and hot water runs through from the boiler.
Vinyl Flooring with recycled PVC
Historically, vinyl flooring has not been known for friendliness to the environment, but vinyl flooring has come a long way. There are a number of materials already in existence that are not going to break down in a landfill, and one of the best ways to reduce the negative impact they could have on the environment is to reuse these materials. PVC is one of these materials that is finding a new purpose in many vinyl floors.
Installing vinyl floor is also easier than ever. While flooring options do exist that involve extensive manual gluing or self stick tiles, another option many find much easier is using loose lay vinyl flooring. This type of flooring has a special backing designed to increase friction in order to keep it in place so that other adhesive is not necessary. The vinyl sheets are laid right up against the wall and fit snugly together. With the ease of installation, it becomes an attractive option for many “do it yourselfers” and ultimately saves money.
Using steel beams in your building construction can add stability and eliminate the risk of mold or rot you might get with wood beams. Steel beams also do not require the use of trees, and are commonly made from scrap metal from cars. BY using scrap metal, 75% less energy is used versus making new steel — all the more reason to include these in your home.
Insulated Concrete Forms
Another alternative to wood is insulated concrete forms. A Massachusetts Institute of Technology study revealed that using insulated concrete instead of wood frames reduced energy consumption by 20% in colder climates. This energy reduction helps the planet and your energy bills long term.
Plant Based Polyurethane Rigid Foam
You can’t talk about home building or being environmentally friendly without addressing insulation. One of the most eco-friendly insulation options was born from one company’s slap on the wrist from the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA had cited hazardous materials in surfboards and the company began making their boards from plant based polyurethane rigid foam. It was soon discovered that this also made excellent insulation material.
It is not uncommon for many eco-friendly options to be more expensive initially, but investing in your future energy costs, as well as the overall good of the environment, makes up for that initial cost and helps you take even more pride in your new home.