Environmentally Friendly Homes

With today’s inflated prices on energy and the urgent need to be more environmentally friendly, building a self-sustaining home that will save you money as well as your environment is on the rise. If you are considering building a new home, do check out the natural building materials available today. It will have a positive effect on your pocket and the environment.

There are nearly 20 types of natural building techniques used in home building today. Some of the most common techniques used are outlines below.

One of the most popular forms of natural building in America is the bale building. Straw-Bale Construction is the practice of taking baled straw stacks to create extra-insulated walls. Straw bales provide the ultimate in insulation, are lightweight, cost almost nothing and do not require many tools. Mixing straw with natural plaster provides homes the ability to ‘breathe’, something missing in our society today. HUD (Housing and Urban Development), Fannie Mae (a shareholder owned company, established to expand the flow of mortgage funds in all communities, at all times, under all economic conditions and to help lower the costs to buy a home) and Habitat for Humanity have approved the construction of bale buildings which are economical, healthy and insurable too.

You can say adobe style houses are built both by the rich and poor. It’s because in the South these types of homes are built because the homeowners cannot afford anything better whereas in the Southwest, the rich build adobe homes. This type of housing made from sun-dried mud bricks, has been in use for centuries all over the world.

A mixture of clay and sand are used in the construction of adobe homes. Sometimes straw and manure are added. The clay mixture is poured into molds and left to harden in the sun for days. They are then laid on a stone or concrete foundation using traditional masonry techniques. Mud is the mortar of choice for adobe style homes, however concrete or lime also has a history of use. Because of the severe restrictions on adobe constructions, it is limited to the desert southwest.

Among the most self-sufficient homes built are earthship homes. Michael Reynolds of Solar Survival Architecture started earthship construction. An independent structure, created and sustained by solar energy and recycled materials, the walls of earthship homes were and still are created from soil-filled tires, which are excellent thermal conductors. Bottles, cans and other recyclables fill the gaps between the tires. The building is typically framed with localized wood and roofed metal that will collect rainwater. Optical upgrades include integrated wastewater treatment systems, photovoltaic electrical systems and solar hot water and heating. There have been many Earthships communities built in places like New Mexico and Arizona.

Another common method of building homes today are using recycled building materials, with the sole purpose of creating less waste. By using materials and objects that would otherwise end up as trash, you will not only build an affordable home but one that is earth-friendly as well.

Global warming is a threat that will affect generations to come. The atmosphere surrounding us that supports life is a God-given gift. It must be protected. We should be leaders in efforts to curb global warming, not resistant followers.

Erin Hunt is an avid writer and activist. She discovered that many are still unaware of the dangers of global warming and thus created a website to educate others on how they can play a role in the fight against global warming. Find out more about the effects and causes of global warming and how you can make a difference at

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Code For Sustainable Homes

The Code for Sustainable Homes is a rating system that measures the environmental impact for new build housing in England. The code was officially launched back in December 2006 and was designed to complement the system of Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) for new homes that were built or developed in 2008 under the European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive. The Code for Sustainable Homes Assessment is a mandatory assessment under current building regulations but it does represent important development towards limiting the environmental impact of housing. Currently the minimum Code level for newly built social housing is CSH Level 3. As of Spring this year this minimum target level well also be mandatory for new-build private dwellings

The Code has taken over from the previous Building Research Establishment's EcoHomes rating scheme that was first used back in 2000. The Government owned scheme currently only applies to new build dwellings in England but the National Welsh Assembly recently announced a plan to adopt the code, while Northern Ireland are required to achieve a code level 3 on all public sector homes. The rating acts as an incentive to home builders to consider building to the Code's higher standards, whilst making the information routinely available will encourage consumers to be more demanding.

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Sustainable Landscape Design

Sustainable landscape design is all about the balance of both natural and mad-made elements that would allow a homeowner to feel at east, knowing that the plants would survive and can be maintained. In a way it's like observing ants in an ant farm, but it involves a little more interaction with people who wish to keep a healthy garden or patio the way it should be. This practice is common even in real estate development, making sure the ecology of the land would not be harmed in the most damaging way possible, and it can also work with gardens as well.

To understand the design is to know how much plants or area for a patio is needed in order to create a well-balanced yard or house. It may be something like decorating, but there is science involved. Most gardeners would know when a number of plants in a garden would be too much that sunlight would no longer reach the ground, thus losing the much needed nutrients that can only come from the sun itself. The same thing with other smaller plants that would be covered by the taller ones.

Another aspect when it comes to the design is the usage as well as construction, where contractors who specialized in the field would use and identify the kinds of hazardous wastes that would upset the natural balance on most gardens. Of course it doesn't mean the waste would be harmful to humans, but will not ruin the garden ecology in a tremendous way.

There are other projects that this field also produces. One such example is the usage of alternative fuels and energy such as solar panels. This may sound extreme for most people, but for conservationist as well as those who are aware of the resources that is wasted on a daily basis about the need to protect natural resources.

Sustainable landscape design is a science that helps protect both homeowner and the environment to be in harmony with each other, and in the recent years have been sought after by hundreds of homeowners with regards to protecting their home as well as their lawns and gardens in the future. It may be the first step, but eventually would be recognized and accepted by a majority of Americans who wished to have a more ecological-friendly home.

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With the new Solar Powered Dimmer from ODL, homeowners can save more than 30 percent on energy bills. ODL ENERGY STAR-qualified Tubular Skylights, now with the Solar Powered Dimmer, are perfect for any room in the home where light is limited. Tubular skylights admit natural light into a room without causing “hot spots,” which are typically formed by traditional roof skylights. The Solar Powered Dimmer allows homeowners control over the amount of light entering through their tubular skylight. The ENERGY STAR Tubular Skylight also features the patented Solar Lens Dome, which gathers sunlight even during low-light hours in the morning, late afternoon, or during the winter, to maximize light into the tube. Additionally, the “two-piece” kit makes installation a snap.

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ODL Solar Powered Dimmer for Tubular Skylights

Going Green With Commercial Real Estate

Investing in a facility that adheres to green building standards and performance efficiency is a smart and responsible decision. When considering the value energy efficient and environmentally friendly buildings can bring to the commercial real estate market, it seems as if going green is the wisest of investments. The practice of "going green" has been gaining popularity within the last decade.

It is more important than ever to ensure we are doing all we can to lessen mankind's harmful impact on the environment, and the government is offering tax incentives to those who take on environmental challenges with green building practices. Our society as a whole has changed the way it sees building, living and working. That's why living and building "green" is more attractive than ever to both residential and commercial real estate investors. Green building design consultants can help a facility reach its efficiency goals. Green design can alleviate and reduce exposure to toxic materials, as well as ensure the conservation of non-renewable materials and energy.

When it comes to green facility construction, a green design consultant will make sure the building process minimizes the ecological impact of building as well as oversee the construction to guarantee the protection of local water, soil, air, plants and wildlife. When designing a green facility, it is important to take into account the lifestyles of those who will be using the building. Make sure the facility offers support of transportation alternatives, such as walking, mass transit, biking and alternative fuels. Incorporating design features that will make it easier for commuters who use non-traditional transportation is a responsible and modern necessity.

Of course, you'll want to utilize non-renewable energy and recycled, environmentally friendly materials in your building. Many wonderful decorations and practical applications can be made out of the abundance of recycled plastic and rubber. Plastic and rubber are extremely durable, but not very environmentally friendly. It is a wise choice to use the recycled plastic and rubber, however, because otherwise it would end up sitting in a landfill for thousands of years. And, by using recycled materials, it eliminates the need to create new, un-degradable plastic.

You may think that going green and increasing building performance efficiency would cost a lot of money. While this has been the case in the past, it is becoming more and more cost effective. In fact, green design and building often costs the same as traditional building methods. And with all the money that can be saved through efficiency and recycling, green building can actually cost far less than traditional methods over the long run. Corporations and businesses are far more likely to invest in a green building if they know it will increase their bottom line.

If you consider the long-term maintenance and energy costs, using green and energy efficient products and designs will significantly increase profitability. As green building continues to gain popularity, tax incentives will increase. It's easy see how green design and construction will pay for itself as times goes on.

Mr. Oliver is a marketing agent of Servidyne. The commercial and industrial building experts can help you manage your building's energy-efficiency while lowering operating costs. From consultations to energy audits and even to installation of a CMMS system that will keep tabs on your building maintenance and energy output for years to come. For more information on their Green Building Consultant please visit their website.

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