Green homes can be defined as living premises that are comfortable, healthy, cost efficient, energy saving and environmentally sustainable. They are designed to make optimal and efficient use of building materials during the construction process, and energy and water throughout their life cycle. Their larger objective is to achieve a reduced carbon footprint. The direct benefits to owners include savings on electricity and water and providing a healthier lifestyle.
The increased use of renewable and non-renewable resources by human beings has led to a rapidly escalating global crisis. We have been exploiting our natural resources to a point where calamities like global warming, flood, rising temperatures and shrinking water levels have become commonplace. Thankfully, the current generation has understand the importance of sustainable living practices. There has been a growing acceptance of sustainable solutions that aim to minimize the impact of the processes of habitation and daily living on both environment and human health. A prime tool to this end is a ‘green home’.
Features of Green Homes
While the elements that make up a green home are not universally agreed upon, standards in green modeling of homes do exist. They extend from minor aspects such as energy-efficient appliances to larger ones like rainwater harvesting. Importantly, green homes projects are designed in such a manner that even during construction; they have the minimum possible impact on the environment at the site level. Green home concepts in terms of an apartment include solar solutions to offset electricity requirements, increased home insulation, double low-E windows, using energy star appliances, water-efficient plumbing fixtures, non-toxic finishes (sealants and VOC Paints), water-efficient landscaping and irrigation control, sustainable recycling programs, maximum natural lighting and ventilation, green maintenance and plantations, native plant landscaping. Green home concepts at project level include standardized construction to minimize waste, and recycling of construction waste, storm water collection / rainwater harvesting, maximum plantation of shade trees, specifically selected building materials to regulate temperature and facilitate minimum use of air conditioning among others.
The Wide-Ranging Benefits
Green homes contribute to healthier living. The special construction materials used in green homes reduce their inhabitants’ exposure to toxins and allergens. For example, green-grade ventilation ducts act as a barrier for dust particles and moisture, consequently reducing the risk of mildew and airborne particulates. The use of sealants, paints, wood products and adhesives that integrate volatile and organic chemicals also reduces the exposure to toxicity. More natural ventilation reduces the use of air conditioning, which is known to adverse effects on health when used excessively.
They also help their owners save a lot of money in the longer run. Because of the kinds of construction materials, appliances and maintenance processes involved, the initial investment is more than in traditional homes. However, green homes ultimately lead to substantial reductions in energy costs. Energy-efficient homes can reduce the consumption of electricity by more than 30 percent. Also, the targeted engineering involved leads to optimized space configuration and enhanced efficiency.
The reduced water wastage in green homes is also very significant in a country like India which is already facing a rapidly worsening crisis of water availability. To illustrate, water and energy efficient washing machines can save more than 7,000 gallons of water which would have otherwise gone to waste every year. If one analyzes the savings with the amount of water that is used in rainwater harvesting, water recycling, the magnitude of benefits of green homes to the environment can be better understood.
Healthier living means fewer visits to the doctor and saving money in the process. Further, with energy prices rising and the climate getting hotter and more erratic, it makes a lot of sense to opt for a green home as opposed to traditional and unsustainable living quarters.