The Five Elements of Green Design

Successful sustainable construction begins with a design that addresses each of the following five central elements of green building design. 

  • Sustainable Site Design
  • Water Conservation and Quality
  • Energy and Environment
  • Indoor Environmental Quality
  • Conservation of Materials and Resources 

To assure the integrity of the design and the eventual sustainable outcome, integration of green technology within each of those core design elements is critical. For example, the interrelationship between the site orientation, the water conservancy program, the use of natural energy sources, the quality of natural sunlight inside the building all affect the building’s need for materials and energy sources. In fact, the ideal design brings all the elements together over and over again.  

Integrating the design elements requires recognition of several principles of sustainability and the application of these principles to the site analysis: 

  • Reduce urban sprawl and destruction of land
  • Promote higher density urban development
  • Pursue brownfield development to save exiting green space
  • Minimize site disturbance and restore natural habitat 

Below are hints for consideration with each element. 

Sustainable Site Design 

  • Only select a new site when necessary
  • When a new site is necessary, do not chose a site that is critical to the local eco-system
  • Orient the building to on the site to utilize natural resources like solar energy
  • Select a site that allows access to mass transit
  • Minimize the building’s footprint by using existing surfaces, lightening roof color and using natural shading 

Water Conservation and Quality 

  • Realize that orientation of the proposed building that allows for natural drainage is often the least expensive way to improve the location
  • Be certain that the site assessment captures the natural hydrological attributes
  • Allow for the use of low-impact storm water retention
  • Set a water budget and implement features that help achieve the budget
  • Improve water conservation and quality by utilizing indigenous trees, plants and turf that do not require irrigation, fertilizers or pesticides 

Energy and Environment 

  • Maximize passive solar orientation
  • Reduce the need for artificial lighting by planning to use natural sunlight whenever possible
  • Use exterior insulation to maximize the performance of the exterior envelope
  • Use natural ventilation
  • Use Energy Star energy efficient appliances
  • Use new-age lighting products and settings
  • Research all the new energy technologies 

Indoor Environmental Quality 

  • Protect the building’s interior during the construction process
  • Make the building smoke-free
  • Maximize the used of daylight sunlight
  • Make sure that all interior finishes are environmentally friendly and safe
  • Design a healthy heating, cooling and ventilating system 

Materials and Resources 

  • Use engineer designed high stress materials whose strength reduces the quantity of used materials
  • Use recycled materials whenever possible
  • Use materials that can be recycled when their functional life has elapsed
  • Support the local economy and reduce the transportation of materials by using local providers of local products 

The five major elements, from sustainable sites to materials and resources are also considered in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED building certification. Whether considering that certification or just interested in green building, the above points to consider can make a huge difference in returns, cost and the environment.

Green Design Will Save the World

Green design is not a new concept in building. It has been around since ancient times as our ancestors considered their natural surroundings and resources to build their homes. Green design is simply designing structures in an environmentally friendly fashion, taking into consideration the whole building as well as the occupants that will reside in it.

Three core goals of green, or sustainable design are energy efficiency, natural resources conservation, and indoor air quality. The aim is to make a positive difference in the world around us by reducing negative human impact on our planet due to poor construction methods. We hear so much of the bad plight of our environment from air pollution to land deforestation to depleting fossil fuels. Green designers have risen to the challenge to take a systematic approach of designing buildings from beginning to end with energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and materials selection first and foremost in mind.

With buildings contributing to more than 40 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, green designers aim to be as energy efficient as possible in the hopes of helping to reduce that percentage. Designers aim to reduce their carbon footprint by using renewable energy sources such as solar power when possible as well as utilizing recycled products. Solar hot water tanks are becoming more and more popular in new construction homes to reduce the amount of energy in heating our water for our homes.

Passive solar designs are also becoming more popular as designers educate potential builders of the benefits of such design. With this type of home design, heating costs can be cut between 30 and 50 percent. With this type of green design in mind, your home will be designed to face the south so that the sun can be used more efficiently to heat your home when needed. With energy efficient, south-facing windows, better insulation, and great design, you will be pleased to see your heating bills decrease.

Almost every resource that goes into your home can be environmentally friendly. Green design has come a long way in the past thirty years and many resources abound geared toward reducing your carbon footprint. A good designer will give you various options regarding materials to use in building or remodeling your home. Everything from roofs to recycled lumber to counter top and carpet can be environmentally friendly.

Indoor air quality is an important part of green design as well. Indoor air pollution has been a problem for many and the high rate of asthma alone in the U.S. has been blamed on poor indoor air quality. Green designers will take this into consideration and be sure to design proper ventilation for your home as well as use environmentally friendly products such as insulation, lumber, carpet, paint, and more.

If you are concerned about the environment and would like to make your home more environmentally friendly, hire a green designer or consultant to discuss how you can make changes to do so. Whether you simply want to reduce the carbon footprint of your current home, remodel, or build a new home, green design ought to be one of your main concerns and well worth the consultation.

The Amazing Advantages of Green Interior Design

Green interior design takes advantage of recyclable materials, furnishings, and leftovers, to create a one in a million space. This style uses long-lasting and non-toxic materials, as well as renewable energy sources. When you redecorate your home with new materials every five years that is the opposite from green interior design.

The heart of green interior design is to restore and reuse everything that’s possible. Today, there is a great variety of green floor options that allow you to refinish, sand, or paint without employing toxic materials. The main materials employed in green interior design are cork, bamboo, and eucalyptus, because no destruction occurs when taking them from nature. In the same way, there are woods that have been approved and certified by environmental groups as appropriate for construction and decoration because they do not carry the devastation of millenary forests.

Green interior design cares to the core. It even pays attention to what glues and finishes are eco-friendly, since these commonly contain toxic synthetic resins that are extremely harmful. Green design is all about non-toxic cleaners, polishes, finishes, refinishing, and adhesive products, resulting in better air quality and a healthier environment at home.

The idea behind going green is to use as few chemicals as possible in everything we use and in our surroundings, while living in harmony and taking advantage of the green exterior. So it is important to use a lot of glass windows, doors, and skylights to let in natural light, helping to lower energy consumption and to avoid moisture accumulation.

Nothing is more in today than concrete floors. They are used in different colors, textures, polishes, and patterns, and are not harmful to your health because they are free from glues and finishes with chemicals. Green kitchens, bathrooms and fireplaces also showcase concrete counter tops that give a natural look and appear thoroughly modern.

Now there’s the option of recycled glass. It is very beautiful and can be found in many colors and forms to match your space and necessities.

Another important aspect of selecting a green design is in the appliances you choose. Besides budget, it is necessary to think about their functionality, style and energy efficiency. Select the ones that use less water, and recycle all your old appliances correctly. Ask for advice if necessary.

Green home designs provide for lots of ceiling and wall eco-friendly insulation throughout the entire house, turning your home into an energy-efficient one. Look for high performance windows and doors that help preserve energy very effectively.

The current global condition begs for smart choices in home interior design. Green design is such a choice, resulting in an economic and environmental advantage. Green enthusiasts think of future money savings, reduced exposure to toxic materials, and living in harmony with the environment, however, living green is not easy. It is a lifestyle that demands deep changes in your life philosophy and priorities, but it is worth it!

If you’re interested in this kind of interior design, research, ask, and learn all you can about it before deciding to implement it. Interior designers in Seattle are a great source of information and guidance, one that you should consider in order to go green all the way and in the right way.

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Green Design – 7 Ways to Use Green Products in Your Next Renovation

More and more people are concerned about the environment and individuals are asking what they can do. While doing a home improvement project may not seem to be eco-friendly, there are ways you can improve your home and be green at the same time. Here are 7 ways you can go green.

1) Use Green paint. No I don’t mean paint everything green. I mean use zero VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paint. Many leading brands are now using these zero emission paints. You can find these paints in a wide variety of colours and they are available in both interior and exterior grade.

2) Use Eco-friendly flooring. Consider using Bamboo or cork. Bamboo has a modern feel to it and Cork is comfortable to walk on. There are also eco friendly hardwood flooring options that are easy to install and look great. For carpet, look for wool or linen and consider sisal or grass for area rugs.

3) Purchase Energy Star rated appliances. Most of the top brand appliances are offering energy efficient options. They allow you to save time and money and you can get rebates back from the government.

4) Recycle materials you already own. Have fun and get creative with the things in your garage. Break up old tile and create an interesting table top or backsplash. Take old scraps of fabric and create colourful throw pillows or a piece of wall art.

5) Use HardiPlank siding instead of vinyl. Vinyl siding is flammable and toxic to produce. HardiPlank is made from wood pulp and it comes either pre finished or ready to paint. It won’t rot, crack or split.

6) Buy Green furniture. Again I’m not referring to the colour, not that I have anything against a green sofa. More and more furniture designers are getting into the green movement and creating pieces made from recycled materials and eco-friendly fabrics.

7) Change your lights. You can now find a great selection of fixtures that use LED lighting or Fluorescent bulbs. They both use 75% less energy than incandescent fixtures. If you aren’t planning on changing the fixtures themselves you can still be green. Switch the bulbs to CFL’s or compact fluorescent bulbs. They last 10 times longer than the incandescent bulbs.

Hopefully you can incorporate some of these tips in your next renovation project. Ask your favorite retailers to show you their eco-friendly lines. I think you will be surprised how much is out there now in green products.