An Introduction to Green Building
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think “green home”? To many, it’s things like Energy Star rated, solar power, geothermal, recycled wood and many other eco-friendly materials and features. The truth is green materials are not what makes green homes sustainable. Please don’t misunderstand, green materials are an integral part of a green home, but they are not what lies at the heart of green building. The key to a successfully built green home lies in its construction and design.
Energy efficiency is what it’s all about and it lies at the root of the vast majority of green building projects. The house should use as little energy as possible. Whenever possible, renewable energy should be used instead of non-renewable energy (carbon-emitting fossil fuels). Promoting airflow and ventilation, while at the same time preventing hot or cold air from escaping will lead to immediate savings in hydro costs and a more comfortable living space.
1.) Heating Appliances
If you’re on a tight budget or are planning on a multi-step rehab over a longer period of time (to make costs more manageable), starting with replacing an aging heating appliance may be the best option. Old boilers and furnaces are real pigs on energy. Be it electric, natural gas, propane or any other form of energy, like your daddy’s vintage Cadillac these relics burn a lot of fuel. Replacing your old heating appliance with a new Energy Star rated boiler or furnace will immediately cut your hydro bill.
If you’re going into this green project with all guns blazing, it’s probably best you start with the foundation. Spray closed-cell polyurethane foam around the joists and floor framing above the foundation. This is an effective way to seal cracks between the foundation and floor framing that lets air into your house. While you’re at it, if your home is built on a concrete slab foundation, consider sealing any cracks with durable urethane caulk. It’s the best way to prevent naturally-occuring radon gas from entering into your home, not to mention water. It also acts as a barrier against subterranean termites.