Defined as the color between blue and yellow in the spectrum, green is also a word that represents two of the most important things that people care about: their health and their money. While the benefits of living in a green home are extensive, this time I will focus on the ones I consider to be the top five.
- Better Indoor Air Quality —Considering Americans spend around 90% of their time indoors, and due to the excessive amount of chemicals we bring home, our home’s indoor air quality can be up to 100 times higher than the outdoor levels, choosing green materials is a must. Furthermore, the American Lung Association (ALA) states that “Poor indoor air quality can cause or contribute to the development of infections, lung cancer, and chronic lung diseases such as asthma. In addition, it can cause headaches, dry eyes, nasal congestion, nausea and fatigue. People who already have lung disease are at greater risk.” Next time you hear the word green, think of low to zero VOC paints, adhesives, sealants and finishes; non-toxic pest control and non-toxic household cleaners; GREENGUARD certified products; and open windows that will bring fresh air in.
- Energy Savings — Considering buildings are responsible for nearly 40% of the energy consumed in the US on a yearly basis and only 16% of the total of energy used comes from renewable sources, selecting products that are sustainable will not only save you money but also protect our natural resources. Whenever we look at a green home, we expect to see better insulation, tight ductwork, sealed doors and windows, efficient heating and cooling from Controlled Comfort, efficient lighting and appliances. If you are building a new addition look for Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) as they are basically slabs of polystyrene inserted between two sheets of Oriented Strand Board (OSB) which creates a super-insulated structure. Opt for light fixtures compatible with LED lighting. Last but not least, make sure all your appliances as well as exterior doors, windows, and skylights carry the Energy Star label. The result is a more comfortable home due to fewer temperature variations and a great return on investment related to energy savings and lower maintenance costs.
- Environmental Impact — Every day our natural environment is positively impacted. The construction process of a traditional home alone emits much construction waste. Green homes are built using materials that are more durable and will last a long time. Not only they are sustainable, but they will save money in maintenance and replacement costs when compared to non-green materials and, by adopting a policy that focus on using renewable and clean energy sources it will diminish our dependence on fossil fuels and other non-renewable natural resources.
- Water Conservation — Although 70% of our planet is covered by water, only 2.5% is fresh water that can be used by humans. The remaining 97.5% is salted or ocean water. Yet, since less than half of the fresh water is accessible to us, adopting a policy to conserve water has become a standard. Whenever you are remodeling your home, opt for plumbing fixtures that are WaterSense labeled. If your home was built prior 1980 and your toilet was never replaced, the odds you are using 5 gallons per flush is pretty high. Choosing WaterSense products will help you to save money and water at the same time. In the bathroom, look for high-efficiency toilets, low flow shower heads and faucets. If you are not sure where to start, consider looking into Kohler, Toto, and Moen’s websites. For more information on how much you will be saving, visit EPA’s website.
- Increase the value of your home — Studies have shown that a building’s value increases by 3-5 percent when it is green which can make a huge difference in today’s market. According to a recent study performed by McGraw-Hill Construction in conjunction with the NAHB and Waste Management, 34 percent of remodelers expect to be doing mostly green work by 2016, which represents a 150 percent increase over 2011 activity levels. Furthermore, we need to realize that today’s green home buyer is not just a green consumer; those buyers are aware that green homes have lower bills due to higher building performance. Besides that, the costs of building a green home have also gone down significantly when compared to previous years.
Considering your home is your biggest asset, it makes perfect sense to invest in it wisely and going green is, in my opinion, one of the smartest decisions you can possibly make.
Author Bio: Andrea Vollf, LEED AP ID+C, is a registered interior designer and sustainability professional with over fifteen years of experience in the interior design and marketing industries. Ms. Vollf is an active member of the U.S. Green Building Council – Illinois Chapter, with in‐depth knowledge of all aspects of Sustainability – Social, Environmental and Economic. Connect with Andrea on Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.