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Elements of a “Green” Home. Part One.

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“Green” home construction topics are hot items in the blogosphere these days. Even celebrities and politicians are popping up in these discussions. For example, Eva Longoria Parker is using recycled wood and installing solar panels. Brad Pitt’s Sustainable Design Competition is taking place in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans. Even George Bush has a Texas home with geothermal heating and cooling, a 25000 gallon rainwater cistern. Wastewater from his showers, sinks and toilets goes into underground purifying tanks and is used to irrigate the surrounding land.

  • This blogger at 5ive used non toxic wood sealers, low flow shower heads and dual-flush toilets in all bathrooms. Effort was made to install elements that could be updated without waste, such as concrete countertops and FSC hardwood floors. Also, ABS piping was selected over the more toxic PVC material.
  • This Raleigh, N.C. blogger is proving that a green home can retain traditional look. Solar panels look like slate roof shingles. Geothermal heating a cooling is incorporated into the design. A 2600 gallon underground cistern to collect rainwater for tasks like washing clothes and flushing toilets. Recyled glass countertops have been installed and hardwood floors were cut from logs dredged up in the Cape Fear River.
  • Here’s an incisive post about the pros and cons of those photovoltaic roofs. They save energy, of course. One construction element can take the place of two. But, there are problems if the roof is not oriented in the right direction. Also, what if it leaks? Who fixes it? A roofer? An electrician?
  • This blogger advocates use of brick for siding, but there are some environmental trade-offs. Pros include low maintenance (they don’t need to be painted), provide thermal mass, and the small unit size reduces scrap waste. The main environmental problem is the high amount of energy required to produce them. Best options are salvaged bricks, locally produced bricks, bricks with higher amounts of recycled content, and adobe bricks
  • Drywall manufacturing is energy intensive. EcoRock Drywall is producing a drywall that does not require large amounts of heat.
  • Even pre-fab home manufacturers are stepping up to the plate. Here is a post about “green” factory made homes that are being developed in response to the housing needs in New Orleans.
  • Heres a blog that promotes the use of paint with no volatile organic compounds (VOC,) Also recycled insulation made from cork, cotton, or bamboo is advocated.

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