Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Green Series: Building Green.

Living green means a constant effort to live sustainable, non-wasteful, energy efficient, local supportive lives; including the decision to relocate homes. Building green versus remodeling green is the first of many choices you will make. While the “greener” way would be to remodel green, it may not always work out for you. Below are some things to consider when you have first decided to building green.
1. Consider Options
Cities and states across the country are making themselves more environmentally friendly to provide relief to those of us environmentally friendly citizens. If you have the choice of what state or city to relocate to, research what your prospective cities have done to be greener. Are the community leaders taking actions to allow for more green space (grass)? Are they encouraging green build projects? Have they passed ordnances to reduce electrical use or improve air quality?

2. “Best Places to Live”
Burlington, Vermont was selected as the Best Green City in 2007. What judged the cities? Categories like mass transit usage, power usage, farmers markets, organic producers, and green building projects are all measured. Ranking higher than other cities, Burlington was also credited for developing a compost facility for everyone in town to contribute. The composted soil can then be purchased. The list for 2010 included Eugene, OR, Port Townsend, WA, Tryon Farm, IN, Portland, MA, and Ridgway, CO.

3. Water WorriesI am the type of person that cringes at the thought of drinking water straight from my tap. I know where my water comes from and it doesn’t make me feel safe to drink it. The EPA can direction you to information on water systems if it isn’t posted on your town’s website. I’m sure that my town’s water is safe to drink, but I filter anyways.
4. Your New Life
What part of the town you choose will you live in? Consider your commutes: to work, school, the grocery store, shopping centers, restaurants. How is the drive? Will you be making many trips to get where you need to go? Minimize your drive time by living in a area that allows you to walk where you need to go. Or is there a subway station or bus stop nearby? Think about how much time is wasted in traffic jams and rush hour. Wouldn’t it be nice to avoid those if possible?
5. Natural Heating and Cooling
In locations with warm climates, position your new house to face north and south (the length of your house running east to west). This sets you up perfectly to add solar panels to your roof, as well as allowing the best natural light to come in. Deep overhangs will help to block direct sunlight and reduce excessive heat. Add tinting to your windows to help keep it cool as well. In cooler climates, take advantage of the sunlight. Use concrete or stone on walls to keep warm air locked inside the house.
6. Use a Professional
Invest time into looking for a contractor or architect with experience in green design. They will know the area best and know where to get local materials.

Deciding where to live is a huge step. Once these decisions are made, you can continue to the actual green design process. For more on building gree, check out 365 Ways to Live Green by Diane Gow McDilda.

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