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How to build as green as can be

November 27, 2009|For METRO SOURCE

In a good or bad economy, one can't go wrong choosing environmentally responsible options when building a home. Sustainable, good quality upgrades make the house less costly to operate and these components will ensure and accelerate its value over time. A 'green' home contains energy-efficient heating, cooling, lighting, water systems, and the building process should begin with concrete, not wood. Here's a handy checklist to use when talking to your builder:

Location: Build near public transportation, with options to walk or cycle.

The Envelope: Ask for concrete walls. An award-winning system by Nudura builds them with stay-in-place, pre-assembled blocks, steel reinforced, and then filled with concrete. This cuts construction time significantly, creates less waste material, and virtually eliminates mould, mildew and other toxic emissions produced by buildings structured with traditional methods. Homeowners save money with durability and energy efficiency - and the resulting structure (www.nudura.com) is reported to be up to nine times stronger, with far more fire protection, far more sound insulation, and with a potential to reduce energy costs of up to 70 percent. Other green materials should include low- and zero-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints and sealants, high-performance windows, and roofing material that does not absorb heat.

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Green Energy Supply: Generate your own. Solar panels for daylighting, natural heating and cooling can be incorporated cost-effectively into most buildings.

Conserve: Avoid over-design and aim for standard ceiling heights and building dimensions. The best green homes use salvaged materials, or those with a recycled content.

Garden Green: Outside, plan for low use of water and pesticides. Design with drought-resistant native plants, perennial groundcovers, and shady canopy trees. Flowering plants will encourage the eco-important activity of birds and bees.

Water Conservation: Water from sinks, showers, or clothes washers (graywater) can be recycled for irrigation in some areas. If current codes prevent graywater recycling, consider designing the plumbing for easy future adaptation.

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