In an age of increasing uncertainty about environmental changes, many homeowners are taking a proactive approach to reducing their carbon footprint, especially when it comes to new home design. Other homeowners, however, fail to realize all of the potential for green design. This article will expand your knowledge of eco-friendly design techniques by discussing three ways to reduce the environmental impact of your next home.
1. Choose Bamboo
Most people will agree that traditional hardwood floors offer wonderful performance benefits and tremendous visual appeal. Unfortunately, hardwood floors often come with significant environmental costs, thanks to the slow growing time. While sustainable hardwood options do exist, they tend to carry a much higher price tag, making them prohibitively expensive for many people.
Fortunately, you can still enjoy the good looks and exceptional performance of hardwood at a fraction of the cost by installing bamboo floors instead. Compared to trees, which can take as long as 20 years to reach maturity, a bamboo plant can be ready to harvest in as little as 5 years.
Better yet, bamboo plants don't need to be reseeded after harvesting. The roots simply begin producing additional shoots at once. These facts allow manufacturers to easily replenish their bamboo supply, thus ensuring low prices and high sustainability.
Be aware that the bamboo flooring industry is not as closely regulated as the hardwood industry. Low regulations mean that not all bamboo flooring will meet the same environmental standards. Select a manufacturer who voluntarily conforms to the ecological standards of the Forest Stewardship Council, or FSC.
2. Go With Geothermal
Few factors affect a home's carbon footprint as much as your HVAC system. Traditional furnaces and air conditioners consume large amounts of energy. Not only does this energy consumption take an environmental toll, but it also means your monthly energy bills can cost a small fortune.
One exciting alternative to traditional HVAC systems involves heat pumps that use geothermal energy to heat and cool a home. A geothermal heat pump takes advantages of the fact that, at a certain depth, yearround ground temperatures remain surprisingly constant. A geothermal system utilizes pipes buried deep in the ground around your home.
Special heat-exchanging fluid flows through these pipes. In summer time, this fluid passes unwanted heat from your home to the ground. In winter, this fluid acts to collect latent ground heat and transfer it to your house. A well-installed geothermal heat pump can provide all of the comfort of a traditional HVAC system - at a fraction of the cost.
The energy - and environmental - savings of geothermal heat pumps stems from their high degree of efficiency. The average geothermal system boasts 48 percent more efficiency than a gas furnace, and 43 percent more efficiency than traditional cooling systems. Best of all, a geothermal system does so without consuming any fossil fuels whatsoever.
3. Harvest Your Rainwater
Everybody appreciates the visual appeal of a lush green lawn. Unfortunately, that kind of landscaping takes an enormous amount of water. Not only can that be an expensive habit, but it increases the strain on the municipal processing system. In fact, in many water-starved areas, it may even be against regulations to use city water for landscaping purposes.
By integrating a rain harvesting system into your home's design, you can easily stockpile a free supply of landscaping water. A well-designed rainwater system can collect almost all of the rain that falls on your roof.
Integrating green design techniques into your next home doesn't have to be hard when you know what you want and what is available. For more information on designing the home of your dreams, contact the home construction experts at JO Contractors.