Sustainable building has been in vogue, ever since the green building concept came into existence. Green building means resource efficient and environmentally conscious, sustainable design which is usually dependent on three areas such as conservation, energy, resource conservation and indoor air quality. You can also identify which properties will save you funds when it comes to fuel costs and making repairs.

Viewed as new-age in construction circles, sustainable design looks at homes holistically, and not just a bunch of unrelated systems thrown together. Natural forms of energy, such as wind, solar, and geo-thermal if available on-site are maximized. Make important decisions between one property and another with enough awareness on how carefully has the construction taken into account the weight of environmental protection. And if you plan to put up additional buildings or extensions to your property, you'll know how to go about it in a responsible way. However, experts are of the opinion that both green building and sustainable building have some difference between them. But, both consider environmental conservation has its prime aim. Viewed as new-age in construction circles, sustainable design looks at homes holistically, and not just a bunch of unrelated systems thrown together.

You must look at the various factors for having a sustainable housing:

Environmental factors: We need to consider the conservation of environment in order to improve the biodiversity and ecology.

Water: rain water reuse, minimising and attenuating surface water run-off to prevent flooding and pollution, make use of water efficient appliances.

Energy: high levels of insulation and reduce energy consumption, make use of energy efficient lighting and appliances, building orientation to maximise solar gains and shelter from prevailing winds.

Materials: make use of materials with longer shelf life, but it should be of lesser environmental impact during extraction, manufacture and us, use of materials which can be reused / recycled, use of locally produced materials to reduce transportation requirements and avoid using non renewable and unsustainable ONES.

Affordability: reduce the cost of ownership - if it isn't affordable - it cannot be sustainable, flexibility and adaptability to meet the changing needs of present and future occupiers.

Transport: Your house should be close to public transport routes, access to amenities and place of work should be easy or have some space to work from home itself, to reduce your commuting problem.

Health and wellbeing: make use of non toxic materials, with adequate day lighting, ventilation provided. Private outdoor space, green space, 'sense of place', integration with the surroundings / landscape.

About the Author:

Expert author, Platinum status. Sustainable building help: Sustainable building

Free guide or assistance on Bangalore Property: Bangalore Property

Article Source: - Sustainable Building With Environmental Value


Plenty of people have been looking into installing solar panels in an effort to combat rising energy costs. When most of these people see the prices of the professionally installed panels they realize it may not be a luxury they can afford. There is an easier, more cost efficient way to harness power from the sun and that is to learn how to make solar panels for yourself.

Any motivated do-it-yourselfer can learn how to make solar panels for their home, workshop or business. When compared to the cost of purchasing and installing a pre-made solar energy system, learning how to make solar panels for your energy needs and the materials you need to execute the project are far less. By learning how to make solar panels for yourself, you have greater control over the size and design of your system as well.

Once you have a quality manual and you have learned how to make solar panels, the supplies are fairly simple to find. Most can be found at your local hardware store like, plywood, sheets of glass, and a roll of copper wire. It is also easy to locate inexpensive solar or photovoltaic cells to use in your project. Many are available over the Internet or you may have a retailer available locally. One you’ve learned how to make solar panels and you have your supplies, it usually takes about a day to assemble a 100-watt panel. This is the perfect amount of electricity to operate small appliances or a small workshop.

The most important step is finding a quality manual with detailed instructions for learning how to make solar panels. In many cases you get what you pay for, so don’t be afraid to spend a few extra dollars on a well-reviewed instruction manual. Overall, the cost of the making your own panels is so low, the price of the how to guide is minimal-you will still be paying way less learning how to make solar panels on your own than purchasing a professionally installed system.

With a little bit effort, you can be on your way to learning how to make solar panels to meet your energy needs. Then sit back and bask in the pride the next time the power goes out on your block. Your lights will still be on because you learned how to make solar panels and your energy supply is still in your battery bank.

With today's rising energy costs, and no relief in sight, many consumers are looking to live "off the grid." Even with an initial investment that can be steep, the benefits make it much more economical in the long run.

There are small and some not so small ways why off the grid living is a good alternative today. Even though the economical outlay can be steep at first, in the long run it definitely makes more sense for the environment.

Raising your own food is a good way to begin living off the grid. This way, you eat organically while being secure in the knowledge that no dangerous hormones or chemicals are being introduced into your animals.

A cow can provide milk, butter and ultimately beef and leather. Chickens can provide eggs and meat, and flavoring for soup stock. Sheep can provide wool for warmth, and lambs for food; while goats are very good milk producers. Once you have a garden set up, you should never be short of vegetables. Canning and freezing is simple and cost effective for greens all winter long.

People that choose to live off the grid usually do require transportation, but with the availability of hybrid cars; and the research towards possible ethanol fueled cars; wanting to avoid oil products is not as much of a hindrance now. The Amish have the best means of transportation with their horse and buggies. Of course, maintenance on the buggies and upkeep for the horses can be time consuming, but the benefit of no oil product consumption is a great motivator. Horses can also be used for plowing fields, entertainment and also as income if breeding is something one was interested in.

Buying clothes is becoming much more expensive these days. Children as young as five can't go to school in hand me downs or thrift store clothing because they will be teased. When living off the grid, you don't need to be stylish, and you probably have no desire to be stylish either. Spinning wool from your sheep, and knitting or weaving clothes and blankets is a great way to save money. Of course, these days, handspun wool can be a great income generator, as well as wool products, such as handknit sweaters and socks. Buying fabric from a local merchant is less expensive than buying clothes in a store, and can be just as nice as long as you know the basics of sewing. For some, sewing may be difficult, but that is an easy hurdle to overcome. There is always someone who would be willing to barter, especially if you are located near anyone else who chooses off the grid living. Sharing your talents with others make self sustainable living much more enjoyable.

Generating heat and energy is always a concern for those who choose to live off the grid. There are several choices available, but the initial investment can be steep. Once the infrastructure is setup, there is no reason to pay your power bill monthly, or to worry that you are going to freeze in the middle of the night during a storm. Having your own power supply means freedom from being at the mercy of repair crews in the middle of the night when the power line has been knocked down, and also is much safer. Power is not vital to survival, and life can be enjoyable without it.

There are two power supply options with readily available instructions online. Solar and wind energy can be very efficient, and have the benefit of being much cleaner than coal, oil or gas, and definitely much safer than nuclear power plants. There are several sources of this information available... just search "off grid living"

The Amish community is a good example of living off the grid. They have even been able to integrate into the community without sacrificing their values or their way of life. If more people were willing and able to follow their lead, our carbon footprint would be lessened, and our dependence on foreign oil would be nonexistent.

If we each made some small progress in living green, there would be more people willing to make that next step to move off the grid, and our world would be a much cleaner home for all.

About the Author:
Andrew Oke is very interested in renewable energy.He has 16 years experience living off the grid, and has completely built his own renewable energy system. Visit his website at Living Off The Grid
Article Source: - Living on Green Energy

Today, a good deal more people are more and more aware of the amount of energy they consumed every day and what effect it was having on our planet. If you are among these people and are looking for a way to help out with the environment and cut back on your energy usage, here are six simple steps to assisting you save on the amount of energy you use.
  1. 1. Turn off all of the lights in your home that you are not using, and can you do with less lights? For the next month try to making a genuine commitment to stick to it and compare your current utility bill with next month’s and see how much money you actually could save over the long term just by doing this simple adjustment.

    As a matter of fact your mother likely taught you to turn off the lights when you are not in a room, and mother always right. Even with low wattage bulbs, it can help to make a difference to keep them switched off when you are not using them.

  2. Replace your old thermostat with a digital programmable thermostat if your home does not have one. This way, you can set the thermostat to run the heat or air conditioning less when you are not at home, and then set the temperature to go back to comfortable levels just before you return home. If the system is not running all day it will cut back significantly on the amount of energy you use.

  3. Use solar power whenever you can. If you use outdoor lights, then switch these over to run on solar energy. You can also get a portable solar charger that can charge up small appliances like cell phones and laptops. While people mainly use these devices on the go, you can also routinely use them in the home as well.

  4. Cut down your hot water use. You can achieve this by using warm or even cold water to wash your clothes and hang up your clothes outside to dry, it will smell fresher too.

  5. Be sure all the bulbs in your home have been changed over to the low wattage compact fluorescents. The old style incandescent bulbs can almost triple your energy usage. Also, have outdoor lights with the capability to turn on at night and able to turn themselves off during the daylight hours. This way even if you forget to turn the light off it will not be operating all day.

  6. In the winter months, open your drapes on the sunny side of your house to let the sun in to warm your home, you will be amaze how much energy you could save. And naturally you do the opposite in the summer and close the drapes to keep the sun out.
Simply by utilizing these simple steps and you will be able to cut back on your energy consumption. Not only will you be working to save the environment, but you will also be reducing your utility bills as well.

About The Author:
For more ideas and tips on saving energy (and you money) please visit and produce your home made energy here...

How would you react if your neighbor told you she was going to build wind turbines? Pretty impressed? The truth is that it is not difficult to build wind turbines and many homeowners are taking the challenge to build their own wind turbines as a cost-effective means to utilizing renewable energies. It isn’t exactly snap-your-fingers easy to build wind turbines either, but with the proper plans and a motivated builder you can be building wind turbines in no time.

It is definitely your best bet, before setting out to build wind turbines, to purchase an instruction manual or guide to follow. Remember that you get what you pay for when it comes to instructions. Make sure you find a manual that is easy to read with detailed instructions. There are also many online resources and forums to help guide you through your wind turbine building process.

To familiarize yourself with the basics, before you get started on your project to build wind turbines, there are four basic components to wind turbines. To build wind turbines you must be familiar with the towers, the batteries, the turbines and the tail and propeller assembly. The tools generally required to build wind turbines are simple as well, you will need wrenches, a saw and a drill. There may also be a need for additional tools depending on how of the wind turbine you will be building yourself.

One part that you will probably be ordering when you decide to build wind turbines is the motor. The motors on wind turbines do require regular maintenance and oiling for continued efficiency, but this is a small price to pay for the excellent energy these systems provide. In addition to the motor, you are definitely going to need a good-sized workspace. Depending on your target energy output, your propellers or blades could get up to 8 feet in diameter (4 ft blades).

It takes a little work to build wind turbines, but there is really nothing overly complicated about the process and generally the process can be fairly inexpensive once you are operational and your electric bills are dropping each month. Building wind turbines is also a fast growing occupation worldwide as technicians are tough to find. So learn how to build wind turbines for yourself and take advantage of the opportunities free electricity and know how can provide.

There are many affordable options to convert your home into a solar home and solar energy technologies can supply for several different uses in a solar home. Passive solar design can provide heating, cooling and natural light for your home. Solar electricity options are available to power home appliances and solar water heating can provide hot water options for laundry and general household water use (showers, cooking, cleaning). When planning a solar home it is important to consider which solar energy options are most efficient, and cost effective for your situation.

A passive solar home utilizes home design to provide heating, cooling and natural light without the use of any special equipment. A passive solar home basically uses the environment to accomplish great reductions in energy use. A passive solar home uses construction materials and design to utilize the sun’s heat during winter months and block the sun’s heat during summer months. There are several passive solar techniques you can use in a solar home, direct gain, radiant heat from sunlight passing directly into a living space and being absorbed by furniture, flooring etc and usually achieved with south facing window installations, indirect gain, involving an attached Trombe wall that collects heat and distributes it throughout the home by the use of fans, thermal mass, which are materials that naturally collect and store heat such as brick or stone, and passive cooling, which generally includes overhangs for south-facing windows to block the sun during summer months for cooling the solar home.

Another feature often found in a solar home is the use of solar electricity. Solar electricity is generated when photovoltaic cells are used to absorb sunlight and convert it into usable electricity. The energy produced by solar panels must be converted to DC (household power) through the use of an inverter. Solar electricity can be used to supplement metered electric already being received by a solar home or with the use of a battery storage bank, can be used as the only electric source for the home. If the later is going to be used, it is suggested that owners of the solar home have a generator available for backup power.

Solar water heating is one of the most common uses of solar energy in a solar home. There are two kinds of solar water heating available for solar home use. The first is a closed loop system, which can be used in areas that are not prone to freezing. These systems use water filled tubes that are heated directly by the sun. A closed loop system uses an anti-freeze type liquid to collect heat from the sun and then the heated liquid is used to heat household water via a heat exchanger.

Regardless of which steps you take toward converting to a solar home, energy efficiency is the most important attribute to a successful solar home operation. Energy efficiency minimizes the need for heating, cooling and electricity. Using higher insulation levels, more energy efficient windows, appliance and lighting than used in traditional construction, you will already be saving yourself a lot of money and energy. However these changes may not be an option when converting an existing home into a solar home, so make any changes possible to your home energy efficiency and adapt other solar practices to convert your existing home into a solar home.

Interior design is all about creating aesthetically pleasing spaces that are safe, practical and in harmony with the rest of the surroundings. In order to carry this out effectively we must source the best materials, furniture and fixtures and fittings for the job, and in doing so, we inevitably have an impact on the environment albeit inadvertently.

These days with so much emphasis being placed on global climate change, reducing consumption, and recycling, interior design can be a bit daunting if we want to limit our carbon footprint and still get the effect we want. However, armed with the right information, it needn't be a big challenge and we can still create beautiful rooms that are stylish, healthy and that are environmentally friendly too. So where do we begin?

First of all it's important to note that every single thing we buy has an impact on the environment somewhere along the line either, from the way they are extracted, manufactured and processed, or from the distances they have to travel to end up in our home. Take for example paint, wood, glass, metal, textiles and furniture, each of which can have a negative impact if we don't know what to look out for but with a little effort and forethought, we are able to find eco friendly alternatives.


Conventional paint contains solvents and lot of other harsh chemicals and toxins but it is possible to source paints that have a reduced effect on the environment and that don't contain solvents, which are not only a much healthier option as they won't release harmful gases into your home and the atmosphere, they can be just as effective.


If possible, try to buy wood that is grown in a local forest so it doesn't have to travel long distances to end up in your home. Also, choose woods that don't have a negative effect on the environment. Look out for the FSC symbol which stands for Forestry Stewardship Council, an international non-profit organization that will ensure that when you buy you will not be contributing to global forest destruction and threatening the livelihoods of people who depend on the forest or timber to survive.

Glass and Metal

Glass and metal are fairly easy to recycle and one of the advantages of both is that in most cases they can be recycled over and over again without losing any quality. Using recycled glass and metal helps reduce the amount of resources needed to produce these materials from scratch, also the process of recycling uses a lot less energy than what is required to make new glass and metal.


Textile production can include processes like dying and bleaching which uses a lot of energy and will produce toxic gases which are then released into the environment not to mention the harmful pesticides that are often used whilst growing the raw materials. The main things to consider when choosing an eco friendly option is how renewable the product is, in other words, can it be replenished quickly, whether the product is dyed or if natural dyes are used, and whether a lot of chemicals are required to produce it. Some of the more eco friendly choices include organic cotton, wool and hemp although there are many others available too.


How eco friendly your furniture is will depend on the material it is made from, how it is processed and what finishes have been used, so choose carefully. Consider buying second hand furniture or items made from recycled or reclaimed materials and doing them up as this helps to keep existing items in circulation and reduces the amount of perfectly useful items ending up in landfill.

When sourcing eco friendly materials for your interior design project, try to stick to the following guidelines:

- Buy from local producers and suppliers as much as possible as the less distance an item has to travel, the lower the impact on the environment

- Consider the type of materials you choose and whether they come from renewable and sustainable energy sources

- Avoid materials that contain chemical additives or that use a lot of energy during manufacturing processes

- When buying new items, try as much as possible to choose products that can be readily recycled after use or that can be disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner

- Consider low energy or energy saving devices and buy as much as you can from recycled or reclaimed materials

Finally, as a result of the massive amount of publicity given to global warming and the need for conservation of energy, many producers make claims about their products that are misleading or even false so check out the credentials of any suppliers claiming that their products are certified as natural, organic or eco friendly.

David McEvoy is an expert in interior design. If you are looking for a leather sofa to give the finishing touches to a newly decorated room then please come and visit our site.

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People who enjoy having a rustic-looking dwelling often choose to have a log cabin built for themselves. A handcrafted log cabin is very picturesque and comfortable at the same time, and there are several log cabin designs you can choose from, once you have decided for such a home.

People who enjoy having a rustic-looking dwelling often choose to have a log cabin built for themselves. A handcrafted log cabin is very picturesque and comfortable at the same time, and there are several log cabin designs you can choose from, once you have decided on such a home. Highly popular is the vacation log cabin, set up in a holiday location, where dwellers can relax at their leisure. If you study some log cabin plans, you will surely realize a log cabin is more than a simple home and has the features of an artistic product. Drawing up the log cabin kit for a handcrafted log cabin requires both skills and creativity.

The main reason why the log cabin is so popular nowadays is the combination of elegance and comfort a handcrafted log cabin can provide. Check out some log cabin plans and you will get the basic idea of what a vacation log cabin can offer. The great thing about log cabin designs is that the resulting building will not only have a rustic and picturesque appearance, but will also provide its dwellers with all the comfort they need. Moreover, a log cabin is very easy to build and you can customize your log cabin kit according to your special preferences, to give your handcrafted log cabin an atmosphere your guests will never forget.

By choosing a log cabin, you can really define your style when it comes to the space you live in. You can customize the log cabin plans for your chosen handcrafted log cabin, by making several options for your log cabin kit regarding types of flooring, roofs and log cabin accessories. There are numerous log cabin designs available, and once you have defined your vision, you can proceed to order the vacation log cabin most suitable to your taste. You will be delighted to find out that a handcrafted log cabin is not only extremely comfortable and beautiful in itself, but also protective as far as the environment is concerned.

Building a traditional house has more damaging effects on nature than a log cabin ever could. This happens because a handcrafted log cabin is made principally of wood, which is a great renewable natural resource. As you can find out by studying log cabin plans, a great advantage of a log cabin is also its strength over time. You will not have any troubles with heating and insulation, because a log cabin kit ensures that your handcrafted log cabin is well provided for in this respect. With no technical worries on your mind, you can start browsing through available log cabin designs and order your favorite vacation log cabin.

The charm of a log cabin comes mainly from its appearance. Machine-built homes are not so artistic in their look, but a handcrafted log cabin will certainly show your tastes and personality, as the log cabin kit you order can be customized to suit your preferences. When you decide on the changes you would like to make to available log cabin plans, you should discuss them with your builders, who can offer you viable solutions on how to implement your requirements. Changes related to log cabin designs are very frequent among purchasers, who wish to have their vacation log cabin tailored to their tastes.

A great advantage of having a log cabin built for yourself is that you may get to spend less than on an ordinary home. Because a handcrafted log cabin is made of wood, it is not only less damaging towards the environment, but it can also involve lower costs when it comes to materials. Being able to tailor your log cabin plans means having the possibility to choose from or combine various log cabin designs and also to decide on the materials you want to use for your log cabin kit. One of the major factors that influences the total cost is the area in which you want your vacation log cabin built.

A log cabin of your own will give you the opportunity to escape daily routine and relax at the heart of nature. Remote and picturesque areas are preferred locations for a handcrafted log cabin, and if you have a specific place in mind you can either tailor your log cabin kit or choose among the numerous log cabin designs available, so that your home blends in well with the landscape. Many people dream of putting their log cabin plans into practice, because they enjoy nature and would like to live in a relaxing mood-sweetening home. If you are among them, you can make your dream come true, by ordering the vacation log cabin of your choice.

There are many people who decide to live in a handcrafted log cabin, because such a log cabin is not only comfortable, but also elegant and artistic in its appearance.

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Resources are becoming scarcer, the environment is more polluted, and the icecaps are melting. These are legitimate concerns that affect everyone and every industry. In selecting your preferred home, you should also take into consideration these factors which make modular homes one of the best options. From waste management, to resource allocation, to energy efficient designs, the modular home industry is meeting the challenge to e environmentally conscious and socially responsible.

If you have ever seen a site where local contractors are building a home, debris and overflowing waste sits in a dumpster waiting for transfer to a waste facility or dump. How much of the material thrown away could actually be used in other projects or be recycled for future use? Actually quite a bit. In a factory setting where modular homes are constructed, waste is limited to the bare minimum. Lumbar cut from one home will be used on the next if possible. The same occurs with other materials including drywall, insulation, electrical wiring, etc. In addition, the true waste that remains often is handled through recycling efforts. Many manufacturers have affiliations with lumbar yards that recycle wood debris in return for their business. Waste management offers a significant advantage in modular home construction.

Resources are always limited in general, and in today's age of oil dependence and electrical outages, energy is has the largest focus. By constructing homes inside a climate controlled factory, the amount of energy consumed per house is remarkably less than energy spent per house while building on site. Conservation of space leads to conservation of energy. In addition, labor resources are better utilized as more efficient work is generated per employee compared to on-site jobs. And lastly, time may be our most valuable resource. By reducing the construction time to several weeks instead of several months, time plus all forms of energy resources are saved. Each of these makes the modular home industry a leader in conservation.

The other major area of being environmentally responsible is in the area of design. Architectural designs within the modular home industry have truly targeted energy efficiency in their efforts. "Non-livable" space reductions in design as well as making layouts conducive to better heat and air circulation reduce the demands of energy consumption for the homes. In addition, many homes have options for solar panels, geothermal systems, and other alternative energy sources if the consumer desires. While these measures are also possible within site-built home, the factory setting allows these designs to be more conducive to large scale manufacturing. This can create a larger impact in the housing market faster.

It goes without saying that as a society and planet the environment demands our attention. It is appropriate for all industries to consider these requirements and make the best effort to lead in a direction of ecologically friendly products and services. Through resource allocation, waste management, and innovative design, the modular home industry is taking this responsibility seriously; and current measures in place offer further advances for the future.

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Michael Zenga founded ZN Custom Building in 2002 which specializes in building green modular homes in the Boston, MA area. Michael is an unabashed advocate for the industry due in large part to the green benefits modular housing provides.

Self-build is a term that is becoming ever-popular in the housing market. It's a self-explanatory term : building a property "by yourself". More and more people are doing just that - in fact, there are more self-builders in the UK than the total number of properties being developed by any single developer (Westbury or Barratts for example). The purpose of self-build is to create a property to your exact specifications, not a template that the large developers work to.

Already you're probably thinking: "But I'm not a builder, I haven't a clue about how to build a house". The good news is that self-build doesn't have to involve you with the physical aspects of the property development (in fact, only around 5% of self-builders actually get involved with the actual development work). Even the design aspects are often finalized by a professional designer. Self-build, by and large, is about you saying (in laymen's terms), what you want to the house designer - who produces a design based on your requirements. This design then becomes the blueprint the builders follow. See? You don't need to have any hands-on involvement in self-build. Having said that, the DIY enthusiast can use self-build as an opportunity to save some money by helping out with the aspects of self-build they have experience in - it's up to you how much involvement you want.

Since you get total control over the specifications with self-build, you can choose the latest in technology, while commercial developers lag behind because they're working to rigid template designs. You can install things like underfloor heating, automated climate, lighting and entertainment facilities throughout your entire home.

Self-build sounds expensive, but actually it's generally cheaper than buying a lived-in built property of the same specifications (up to 30% cheaper). Not only that, but self-build properties sell very well too - up to 25% higher than the actual build cost, so self-build can be simply an investment, rather than a place to live.

If you're self-building to sell the property immediately, you will need to take into account the needs and wants of your target market. You may not like to have a cloakroom toilet downstairs, but if that's what the target market dictates, then you should build one. If you're self-building a house that you will actually live in, then you're free to design 100% to your own specifications. Having said that, it's wise to consider the resale value of your property if you're developing a property that caters to a very narrow market.

Bear in mind also that once a design becomes a blue-print, it should not be changed during the build - by making these kinds of changes, you can find your self-build project becoming a moneypit. So the message here is: hire a professional house designer, and do not worry too much about who is the cheapest. A good design will ultimately reward your investment in hiring a professional who can design a well-presented plan for the builders.

This article is merely an introduction to self-build, and I hope it will encourage those of you who are put off by the thought of running a project on this kind of scale. It needn't be time-intensive, and you won't need house building / designing skills, but you will need to be careful as to who you hire, and you will need to carefully work out the budget of the project.

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About Daniel Gookey:
Daniel Gookey is a freelance writer, and has written some of the content for - a website dedicated to help self-builders source Building Materials for their projects as well as advise them on their self-build projects too.

With global warming and other environmental concerns increasingly on the minds of Americans, you want to green your home do your part to save the planet. Here are some easy and fun (and cost-effective!) ideas to make your home more environmentally sound.

Chuck the incandescent light bulbs wherever possible. These standard tear-drop shaped bulbs burn out relatively quickly and use up lots of electricity -- creating garbage and using up resources at the same time. Compact florescent light bulbs (a.k.a. CFLs) last many times longer than incandescent bulbs and use a fraction of the energy. They cost more per bulb, but money you save in energy will outweigh the price difference.

Give up on the bottled water. Sure, your Aquafina may taste slightly better than standard tap water, but the cost of bottled water to the environment cannot be underestimated. Bottled water takes energy to procure, distil, transport and package. Instead, buy a top-of-the-line sink filter or just keep a filtered water pitcher in the fridge. Not only will you protect the environment by cutting back on your consumption of plastic, but you will also save a bundle over the long-term on drinking water costs.

Recycle or give away (or sell on the cheap) your old furniture. Instead of trucking your old sofa or 1999 Sony T.V. to the dump, find your used furnishings a second home. You can use online give-away sites like Craigslist to find people in your local area who might want your furniture. You can also sell stuff on e-bay or give it away/sell it at a garage sale. Barring that, you can find an eco-friendly recycling center near you to dispose of your furniture with minimal damage to the environment.

Stock up on natural, organic products. Instead of installing a vinyl shower curtain, for instance, hang up a hemp curtain -- it's equally anti-fungal and does not release small amounts of volatile organic compounds every time you take a shower. Get rid of your harsh kitchen and bathroom cleansers and replace those nasty chemicals (which have been linked to all sorts of ailments and pregnancy-disorders) with safe compounds that won't hurt you, your children, your pets or your environment.

Reduce your dependence on heating and air-conditioning. You can keep a temperate house without paying your local energy company an arm and a leg. Turn off the heat and air-conditioning when you leave for work for the day (or go on vacation). Use your windows and shades to adjust to the weather outside. If it's super hot out, for instance, throw open the windows and turn on some fans. If it's incredibly cold, pull down your shades and keep windows tightly sealed to avoid heat-leakage. You can also invest in thermally efficient windows and sealants to boost your energy efficiency.

Get a professional energy audit. You can find top rated independent energy contractors out there to come to your home and point out precisely where and how you are wasting energy. By following their tips to reduce heat waste, you will not only reduce your consumption of fuel, but you will also pad your pocketbook in the long-term.

Make it a habit to turn off electrical devices when you are not using them. Before you go to sleep at night, go around and turn off the lights, the T.V., the computer, and other appliances, which can drain energy while you sleep. Also, many electronics like DVD players and video consoles stay 'on' even when turned 'off'’, so they continuously consume a small amount of energy – unplug them.

Landscape in an eco-friendly manner. Put out drums to catch rain water to hydrate your plants or garden (if you live in an area that's relatively drought-prone). Landscape with plants that are native to your region and soil type. If you try to keep tropical plants alive in an arid environment, you’ll inevitably use up an unseemly amount of water and natural resources keeping the plants healthy. You might also want to use your garden to grow organic vegetables.

Look for products and services to boost your green mission. You can find expandable foam to seal up drafts in your insulation. You can get screens to put in your windows to block out some of the solar radiation in the summer and thus help you save on air-conditioning costs. You can purchase eco-friendly power strips to reduce your energy bill and general power consumption. You can buy hemp grocery bags to transport your food (and thus save the planet from having to countenance hundreds of plastic and/or paper bags a year).

Get your family and friends into the green act. You can’t do it alone. Teach your family about the value of the environment and establish "rules of the house" to conserve resources and treat your local habitat with respect. Remember that greening your home can be a fun and educational process. Keep up to speed on the latest greening technologies by contacting local environmentally concerned groups or government agencies.

About Anne Li:
ARI Green Energy is a manufacturer of wind generator technologies. Visit them today for a full line of wind turbines and solar technology solutions. Think green.

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Light-colored roofs made of vinyl are an extremely popular, cost effective, energy-saving alternative to traditional dark-colored roofs on commercial buildings.

How it works:

On a 90° F day, the temperature on a black roof can be as high as 160° F, according to The Heat Island Group at the University of California, Berkeley. Some of that heat is transferred inside to the occupants of the building, resulting in higher utility costs for air conditioning to keep the occupants comfortable.

Light-colored vinyl roofing membranes reduce this problem by reflecting sunlight, bringing temperatures six to eight degrees lower.

According to the California Energy Commission (CEC), cooler roofs reduce peak electricity demand for cooling, improve building comfort, reduce the "heat island" effect and even reduce air pollution. Of course these energy savings also result in cost savings for the consumer or the taxpayer.

Studies by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Florida Solar Energy Center further confirm that reflective roofs made of vinyl membranes or other single-ply materials can reduce utility costs of air-conditioning by as much as 50 percent.

The Proof:

With more than 30 years of documented performance, vinyl roofing membranes have proven to be as structurally sound as other materials, designed to resist wind uplift, structural movement and harsh outdoor elements. An additional benefit: vinyl roofing membranes generally have good fire performance because of the fire-retardant nature of pure vinyl and the addition of flame retardants. Moreover, a draft report from the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) PVC Task Group found that the environmental and health impacts of vinyl building products are comparable to, and could be lower than, those of products made of competing materials.

Vinyl roofing membranes can also be found as a component in urban "green roofs," which consist of a multi-layer soil and drainage system upon which vegetation can grow. Green roofs, in turn, improve the energy efficiency of buildings, enhance the look of urban rooftops and promote healthier air in such areas.

"Available evidence shows that vinyl products can contribute to the environmental performance of sustainable buildings," Vinyl Institute President Tim Burns said. "Whether it is the energy savings provided by vinyl windows or the resource conservation of durable products like pipe, siding and flooring, vinyl has a place in 'green' buildings."

Case Study: San Marcos Unified School District, Calif.

Jim Poltl, director of maintenance and operations for the San Marcos Unified School District in San Marcos, Calif., has installed reflective vinyl roofs on several projects and is now covering 30,000 square feet at three school sites with these roofs.

"This is an excellent design and a good system," he said. His district of about 12,000 pupils started the retrofitting project because the old roofs on single-story manufactured classrooms were leaking. However, once the new system was installed -- complete with improved insulation -- he started hearing comments from teachers who noticed how much cooler and quieter their rooms were. "The money saved on energy costs is really the icing on the cake," Poltl said.

Case Study: University of California, Los Angeles

Greg Zoll, senior superintendent at the University of California, Los Angeles, has also employed several white vinyl membranes on campus rooftops throughout the last five years. He noted that they typically save 20-30 percent in energy costs, with building occupants reporting cooler temperatures that allow them to reduce the energy and costs spent on air conditioning.

"These roofing systems are designed to last 30 years, so multiply that out over the roof’s lifecycle for the true savings,” Zoll said. During peak air-conditioning season, he figures the University saves an average of $800 a month on each of these buildings, or about $10,000 a year in energy costs. “It’s common sense to do this.”

About John Brown:
John Brown writes for the Vinyl News Service, a service of the Vinyl Institute, a U.S. trade association representing the leading manufacturers of vinyl and vinyl products. Read more on the Web at

Article Source: Sustainable Living Articles

The popular word today is GREEN, meaning protecting our environment, enhancing our ecology, conserving our energy and, also, fighting global warming, pollution and waste.

Utilizing the solar system, instead of fuel, for space heating is part of GREEN. And that's where solar homes come in.

The Traditional Way: Active Solar Homes
Early on, architects learned to harness the sun to heat our homes and minimize our dependence on imported oil. South-facing solar panels on the roof, with circulating water, can produce free domestic hot water. This system is still popular and is cost-effective.

Multiple such panels, with anti-freeze liquid instead of water, and with elaborate pumps and insulated storage tanks have been used for space heating. This system is called "active solar," due to the hardware involved in the system, and it is not cost-effective.

Another upcoming system, born out of the space age, is "photovoltaic." Photovoltaic roof panels use sun power to run the house's entire electrical system. This option is clean, efficient and almost care-free, but very costly to install. However, it does have future potentials as costs come down.

The Practical Way: Passive Solar Homes

"Passive solar" is an old concept with a new shine. Energy-saving passive solar does away with costly panels and mechanical devices and taps directly into the sun's energy and house orientation to heat the home. The advancement of technology and available materials has further enhanced the system.

So what's in a passive solar home? A typical one has the major rooms facing south, or nearly-south. The house is constructed with thick insulation in walls and ceilings to keep the house warm in winter and cool in summer. Window and door glazing is double-paned for better insulation (in colder climates, triple-glazing is recommended). A wood-burning stove is selected over a fireplace to optimize heat efficiency.

Most windows and glass doors are on the south side for solar gain. Roof overhangs shade the house from high summer sun. Strategically placed clerestory windows create air circulation by convection for summer cooling.

Benefits and Limitations

Passive solar homes work when solar radiation is collected inside the home and stored in sun spaces, such as sun rooms, and also in thermal media areas, such as masonry walls and thick, ceramic-finished concrete floors. Solar heat stored in these elements is then slowly released after sunset to keep the home warm.

Passive solar has its limitations, too. For instance, some lots might not be fit for solar homes, such as when the site is overwhelmed by tall trees or a barrier. Also, solar design usually requires some sort of back-up heating system for prolonged sunless days or severe weather.

The Bottom Line

It is estimated that passive solar homes can cut fuel consumption by almost 60% or more, especially when wood-burning stoves are utilized. So consider going green and building a passive solar home for your family.

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About Charles Koty, A.I.A.:
Charles Koty is an award-winning architect, specializing in passive solar homes, with plans featured in numerous home magazines including Better Homes and Gardens, Architectural Designs, House Beautiful, and many others. View his available home plans at

Today there are more and more people who are interested in going green, and this is affecting the commercial real estate industry as well. Green building is becoming more and more popular as people begin to think more about environmental consequences when starting new commercial buildings. Those who are investing in commercial real estate today need to learn more about green building so that they have commercial properties that are attractive to buyers and tenants who want to go greener, even with their buildings. So, let's take a look at environmentally conscious building and some of the benefits out there today for investors that cater to this movement.

Things to Look for in a High Performance Commercial Building
First of all, you'll want to know what to look for in high performance real estate, or green buildings. You'll find that these types of commercial buildings are great for the environment by being very energy efficient. They also have low long term and short term life cycle costs. These buildings are also healthy for the people that occupy them and they have very little environmental impact as well. Because they offer all these things, they also attract tenants that are very desirable, which can provide investors with excellent returns.

The Cost Factor
While there are many investors that think that green building is going to be expensive, you'll actually find that the cost can often be about the same or even lower than other types of building. Research has shown that buildings that are built without a high environmental impact, and that are LEED-certified, actually are built with no additional costs. In some cases, these buildings are even constructed with lower costs than standard buildings. So, actually, you can save money when you decide to go with green building.

Green Building Features
There are a variety of different green building features that you should be aware of. This way you can include them in the buildings you are planning or the buildings that you invest in. First of all, you'll find that there are features for energy conservation, including efficient lights and insulation. Also, many buildings feature solar energy utilization as well. Water conservation is also featured in many of these commercial real estate properties that are built green. They often use recycled materials and material selection that will provide great indoor air quality. Other features include avoiding environmental destruction on the site, reducing waste during construction, avoiding the use of compounds that damage the ozone, and even a recycling provision for those in the building.

Incentives Given to Builders
Green building is becoming very popular among investors in commercial real estate, and one reason is that great incentives are given to builders today by the government. In many cases, fast track and financial incentives are given out if builders meet the LEED standards. So, it really can pay off to care about environmental consequences of commercial building.

Buyers Support Going Green
You'll also find today that more and more buyers support going green. Green building is very popular today and buyers in the United States and even buyers around the world are very supportive of environmental protection. In fact, they support it enough that they are willing to pay a bit more money for it. So, not only are the green buildings better for the environment, and often cheaper to build, but they can also sell for more money to buyers who find it important to protect the environment.

As the popularity of going green begins to rise, it is time that commercial real estate investors get on board. Green buildings are a great way to go that not only help to save the environment and make the world a better place to live, but also to bring savvy investors more profits as well.

Sustainable Living Articles @

About Tony Seruga, Yolanda Seruga and Yolanda Bishop:
Tony Seruga, Yolanda Seruga and Yolanda Bishop of Maverick Real Estate Investments, Inc. work with builders, developers and other players in the commercial real estate industry to acquire and develop properties. They use progressive investment strategies that have proved extremely profitable. In addition to their own deals, they teach both seasoned and inexperienced investors how to be big players in the game. Visit the website for more info