This column will be dedicated to the average homeowner or person actively pursuing the ownership of a home and how to best rescue, re-use, restore or add on to an existing residential structure and at the same time do it within the confines of being environmentally conscious or “Green” in today’s terms.
This will be an a non-ending journey through which as many aspects of building and design will be discussed as possible, in order to better inform the average person of better methods of rescuing, restoring and adding on to buildings used as residences. The phrase “used as residences” is purposely put in there to remind average “folks” out there that sometimes non-traditional buildings can sometimes become homes for many people. The articles will be presented from the point of view of an architect but will relate and reference builder’s views hopefully made useable to the average person out there. All areas that require the expertise of a person that is an expert in a particular construction technique will be referenced.
A building, in this case a house or place of residence, is a system of materials constructed in a way to provide shelter from the natural environment which without would result in inconvenience, discomfort, or even death if it didn’t exist. People need a home. Those that choose to have a single family residence as their home face a huge number of challenges in today’s economy. This is why the idea of being “Green” has become so important. Architects and builders are now confronted with the task of designing and building their projects to meet LEED standards. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. These LEED standards are becoming more the standard in commercial design today while at this point they are more a choice for home owners or builders of homes.
LEED standards grade buildings by how they impact the environment, as well as people. One way of stating what it means to be “Green” would be to say it is to reduce the impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment. Along with being “Green” it could also be said that one should become more “Sustainable.” A definition of this would be say that we want to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
While the levels of LEED compliance are very well spelled out by the U.S. Green Building Council, being “Green” is not always so well defined. Those definitions are constantly changing based on new and constantly changing data. There is a fine balancing act as to what is a green practice versus one that is not or is less green. The first series of articles here will concentrate on the simplest and most passive methods of being “Green.” New technologies will be introduced and discussed but the simpler more common and plain sense methods will be approached first. Sometimes, it isn’t the types of materials that are put into a house that matter as much as the way they are put in. This is sort of like an “active” solar powered system versus a passive one. An active one would be one with say solar panels and possibly some wind system. A passive one would be one that had trees correctly placed, the windows on the house made of the correct materials and also correctly placed as well as a highly energy efficient wall and roof system that didn’t let energy escape. Both will work but one is more practical and far less costly. That is what this site and column will concentrate on. The next article in this series will begin to explain the typical house. Look for all the articles in this series to help everyone understand their houses and how to become more “GREEN”!