Designing and Building a Green and Sustainable Home in NC

Green Building Homes and Materials

So You Want To Build a Green and Sustainable Home in North Carolina?
We specialize in green and sustainable building practices – here are a few tips!

If you  are looking to build a home in North Carolina and are concerned about sustainability and your impact on the environment, you wouldn’t be alone.  Green building has been a growing trend in the state for several years with many homes attaining the coveted “Net Zero” rating.

What Is a Net Zero Home?  The U.S. Department of Energy defines a net-zero energy home as one that uses 60 to 70 percent less energy than a conventional home.  The remaining energy needs are supplied by renewable technologies such as solar power Essentially, a “Net Zero” home is a home that sustains itself – energywise.

Green and Sustainable Building Practices

No matter how small an environmental impact or what level of energy efficiency you’d like to attain with your home there are a number of green and sustainable building practices that will help lessen your impact on the local environment and help your home operate more efficiently.

In order to be considered a “green home” it’s widely accepted that your home must have the following traits.

#1.  Your home must conserve energy.
#2.  Your home must conserve water.
#3.  Your home must have a healthy indoor environment (air quality).
#4.  Your home should be built using mostly green materials.
#5.  Your home should be built on an environment friendly site.

Let’s address these points individually so you have a handle on some of the green building practices involved with each.

#1.  Your Home Must Conserve Energy

There are many ways to make your home conserve energy and we’ll start with one of the most popular and that’s subsidizing your energy needs using solar power.  The most efficient way to conserve energy using solar power in North Carolina is probably with a solar hot water heating system.  These systems are very efficient when compared to conventional water heating tanks and they are much easier to install if they are planned during the building process rather than retro-fitting at a later date.

Solar power generation using photo voltaic panels on your roof or on the property where they can get full sun exposure is another way to generate your own electricity and lessen your reliance on the grid but solar power cannot be stored without an extensive and expensive battery bank and power inverter wired into your homes electrical system.

The biggest consumers of energy of within our homes are often the appliances that create cooling and/or heat.  This includes baseboard heating, air conditioning, heat pumps and furnaces.  Using more efficient insulation in both your walls and attic can help regulate temperatures inside your home and prevent your electrical appliances from having to work too hard to regulate temperatures.

#2.  Your Home Must Conserve Water

With fresh water at a global premium, green building practices always consider water usage and look for ways to capture, conserve or reduce it.  One of the easiest ways to conserve water is to supplement your water usage with collected rain-water.  There is no reason your drinking water should be used to wash your car for example.

Rain collection systems can be tied-in with your gutters to offer a near endless supply of fresh water suitable for watering gardens, lawns and washing cars, boats and RV’s.

Do you plan on having a nice lawn?  You’re going to need to water it throughout the summer and the irrigation of lawns consumes a great deal of your potable water.  This is another green building situation in which technology can help you conserve your resources.  Having a smart, programmable sprinkler system that has access to water from your rain barrels or cistern tanks will have your lawn irrigation settled, without your well having to pump up the difference.

Other ways to conserve water involve water saving toilets, shower heads, faucets and water saving appliances such as high efficiency washing machines and dishwashers.

#3.  Your Home Must Have a Healthy Indoor Environment

A healthy indoor environment includes your comfort and more important your indoor air quality.  The air quality in your home can be affected by a wide variety of conditions including the outdoor environment but more importantly it’s the materials used on the “indoor” environment that should be of concern to you.

Green building practices try to eliminate any noxious fumes, chemicals or dangerous materials from the job site and the finished home.  There are many building products that contain known carcinogens and other toxic chemicals that you probably don’t want to be breathing in or exposing yourself too.

#4.  Your Home Should Be Built With Mostly Green Materials

There are many different green building materials but this is where you’ve really got to make some tough decisions about your home and it’s appearance.  The “greenest” building materials are those that are made from renewable (fast growing) resources or recycled/salvaged materials and they can also be sourced (from the factory) within 500 miles of your location.

Green Materials and Systems To Ask Your Builder About

Solar hot water
Solar electricity (photovoltaic)
Passive solar heating
Solar tube natural lighting
Rainwater collection systems
Low-flow faucets and showerheads
Dual-flush or low-flow toilets
Salvaged/Reclaimed wood
Energy Star appliances
Energy Star lighting
Recycled content carpets
Salvaged or recycled hardwood floors
Recycled content countertops
Salvaged wood countertops
Tankless water heaters
Bamboo flooring and countertops
Blown cellulose insulation
Formaldehyde-free insulation
Spray foam insulation
Low VOC paints and finishes
Thermal Low-e windows
High-efficiency HVAC systems
Radiant heat systems
Recycling of cardboard and drywall waste
Dismantling of homes for salvage
Reusing construction materials

Do You Have Questions About Green Home Building in North Carolina?

Jonathan Landry of JL BuildersJL Builders is a custom home builder based out of Asheville, NC.  We specialize in the design and construction of green and sustainable homes for people who are looking to relocate to North Carolina and build their dream home.

If you have questions about the green building process and other questions regarding green building processes or systems you might want to include in your custom home please give us a call or send us an email through our contact form.  We’d love to hear from you!

Our Western North Carolina Service Areas

Leave a Reply