What is Green Design? With our ever changing planet and climates, building design is following along not only to meet the needs of a home's occupants, but to ease the damage of our use to the environment. This year we saw the impact of how water, and the lack of it, affects us globally and individually. This is only one example of the depletion of natural resources. We hope and trust our water resources will return but we still need to conserve as our growing populations and ever changing climates affect how we live.
Green Building and the idea of it can take many forms and magnitudes. It can mean taking a few green building measures, such as high efficiency hot water heaters to a whole house approach, which may include building systems such as straw bale walls, cool roof systems, geo-thermal systems for heating or cooling.
To begin with, the building envelope will be key. The orientation of the building should be considered. You may wish to add solar panels to the roof either in the design process or later once construction is finished. To capture the most efficiency of the building, walls should be well insulated. The roof should also be well insulated and a radiant barrier added to deflect heat. The roof should also be well ventilated. Attic fans can greatly reduce the heat build up during the course of hot summers keeping the living space comfortable and reducing the use of air conditioning. Windows now have great insulating qualities and other features that will allow maximum solar heat gain in the winter yet minimize it in the summer.
Heating and cooling equipment - their are many types to choose. From mini-split systems to central heating and cooling to geo-thermal systems, the efficiencies available can help attain low impact on the environment and keep your living spaces very comfortable, a win-win.
As we become more familiar with these technologies and building systems, we will continue to find and appreciate not only the value to the environment, but the comfort they provide over the life of the home.
Recommended reading - A Builders Guide, Green from the Ground Up by David Johnston & Scott Gibson.