Building and Remodeling Tips

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Where can I find a sustainable architect?

Finding a Sustainable Architect

Whether you're ready to incorporate sustainable architectural design into your commercial building project or home, you'll need to hire a sustainable architect to help you create a green building. To locate a sustainable architect, try consulting the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The USGBC maintains building standards on a national level for every part of the building industry. You can locate architects, engineers, landscape architects, contractors, and more – all professionals who adhere to a level of standard when it comes to sustainable architectural design.

   
Where can I find resources on sustainable architecture design?

Sustainable Architecture Design Resources

Interested in learning more about sustainable architecture design or want to design a sustainable home? There are numerous sources you can go to for more information on sustainable architecture design. For sources on the Web, you can go to Sustainable Architecture, Building and Culture, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Green Buildings Website, or the Green Home Guide. For books on sustainable architecture design, check the architectural section of your local library or bookstore. You can find hundreds of books that have been published on the topic of the design and remodel of homes and buildings to create sustainable architecture.

   
Do you have ideas to help my house more sustainable?

Ideas to Incorporate Green Architecture into an Existing Home

The latest buzz in the residential market for architectural enthusiasts is green living. And why shouldn't green living cause such a stir? Green architecture means a cleaner environment and using cost efficient energy saving building methods. If you're looking for ideas to incorporate green architecture into your existing home, there is a lot you can do.

• Incorporate green architecture into your home by using sustainable materials for your home finishes. Items like countertops, wall surfaces, and flooring can be sustainable. Use finishes like recycled plastic, salvaged steel, and locally mined and produced stones and tiles.

• Select low toxic paints and finishes for the interior and exterior of your home.

• Use low flush toilets to conserve water usage.

• Conduct an energy audit by doing an inspection of your house and looking for any areas that might have air leaks or could use more insulation. By creating tight seals in your home and properly insulating your walls, you save on heating bills and usage. See if there is a non-profit in your area providing green building services that will conduct an energy audit for you.

• Look at the product labels. The Green Seal (www.greenseal.org) logo means products have low levels of volatile organic compounds. The Forest Stewardship Council helps promote responsible forestry standards; look for their label on lumber products.

   
What is sustainable architecture?

Sustainable Architecture Defined

Perhaps you've heard the term "sustainable architecture" mentioned in reference to a museum, public facility, or a home. You might have an idea that the term has a link to buildings and the environment, but you're not really sure what it means. Sustainable architecture, also known as "green architecture," holds the philosophy that the design of a building or home should have the least impact on its environment possible. Every component in a building or home, whether it is affected by its environment or whether it affects its environment, can comprise sustainable architecture. These green architecture components can include passive and active heating and cooling, renewable building materials, water conservation methods, building design, and natural and artificial lighting.

   
Where can I see some examples of award winning sustainable buildings?

Award Winning Sustainable Buildings

Around the globe, there are some examples of award winning sustainable buildings to see first hand, the benefits green architecture has to offer. Here are a few pit stops you can make to see some award winning sustainable buildings.

• Happen to be in Cairns, Australia? The Cairns Convention Centre is an example of award winning sustainable design. Its most outstanding green feature is its shell shaped roof, spanning over 130 feet in length, which insulates the building to minimize heat loss.

• In warm weather Las Vegas, Nevada, you can go see the Animal Foundation Dog Adoption Park. This structure, just under 19,000 square feet, uses a combination of freestanding voltaic canopies, site orientation, and wind ventilation to make it an excellent example of a green building.

• The Ballard Branch Library and Neighborhood Service Center is another excellent example of green building design. The architects used studies of daylight patterns to maximize the usage of natural lighting.

• In Mission, Texas, visit the World Birding Center Headquarters. This 13,000 square foot example of green building design uses a 47,000 gallon rain storage system as a means of collecting, utilizing, and conserving water usage.

   
How can I decide what are elements of sustainable architectural design?

How to Recognize Elements of Sustainable Architectural Design

Trying to decide what to use in the design of your green home? Asking yourself a few questions can determine whether you'll be using elements of sustainable architectural design.

• Are you using products that conserve the environment's materials? Think of recycled products, salvaged materials, and items made from renewable resources.

• Are the materials free of chemicals that could pollute your green home? For instance, avoid paints with heavy toxic chemicals.

• Are you conserving energy by the design elements you are selecting? Elements of sustainable architectural design make the most efficient use of providing water and power to your home. Make use of insulated doors, double pane windows, air sealed construction, and low flush toilet fixtures to help conserve water and power.

   
What standards are there for building green architecture?

LEEDS - A Green Standard

To find out what the U.S. national standards are for building green architecture, consult the U.S. Green Building Council. The U.S. Green Building Council has established a program called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEEDS, a voluntary national green standard for building sustainable architecture. The criteria includes a rating system for categories including construction sites, water efficiency, energy, indoor environmental quality, materials, and innovation in design. Leeds recently added a new green standard component to cover the housing market.

   
What are the benefits to living in a green home?

Benefits of Living in a Green Home

Though the concept certainly sounds good in theory, you may wonder what the real benefits are to living in a green home. Whether you're contemplating remodeling your existing residence, purchasing a sustainable home, or building a new one, not only will you reap the benefits of cleaner, greener living, but so will the environment. Here's how living in a green home as its advantages:

• You'll realize savings in the long-term due to lower utility bills.

• Living in a green home can actually keep you healthier. Less toxic substances and cleaner air help promote healthy living.

• You help the environment by utilizing recycled products and renewable resources. You live in a home designed to have the least impact on the surroundings around you.

• An energy efficient, well designed green home will command a high market value in the real estate market.

   
Do you have any suggestions for building a sustainable home?

Building a Sustainable Home

Building a new sustainable home requires working with professionals with green expertise. In order to get started on your new sustainable home, start by locating an architect who specializes in sustainable design. Before you get started on a project, preparation and research are the keys to a successful new green home. Here are some ideas to help you get started to living green:

• Browse through Web sources and architecture magazines to get an idea of design ideas you would like to incorporate into your new sustainable home. Keep a file and then present them to your selected architect.

• Contact a professional organization such as the American Institute of Architects or government entity such as the U.S. Green Building Council to locate an architect who specializes in sustainable design.

• Think about incorporating sustainability into every aspect of home design. You can outfit your new green home with passive cooling methods like cross ventilation. You can use solar panels for heating. Recycled materials for wall surfaces and flooring can help make your home more green.

By allowing in natural lighting and minimizing the necessity for artificial lighting, even the layout of your home can become more sustainable.

   
Can you tell me more about prefabricated housing?

A Prefabricated Home is a Green Home

Once, a prefabricated home typically consisted of homes designed to be mobile homes or tract type housing. Today, a prefabricated home, or pre-fab home, is the new modern affordable alternative to housing. This new green home comes designed with cost-saving building techniques, a streamlined construction timeline, and often incorporates elements of green architecture, like energy efficiency and recycled or renewable building materials. The pre-fab home comes in a sleek, modern, package with streamlined edges and open floor plans.

   
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Carma Spence-Pothitt