New housing design and infrastructure planning promises to deliver very positive results to the environment. Some of these advances are being driven by code, however, more and more consumers are demanding solutions that they can feel good about.
Consumers are showing more interest in constructing green homes due to the potential cost savings on utilities over time. The percentage of green homes built in the United States alone increased from 2 percent in 2005 to 23 percent in 2013, and is expected to grow to nearly 40 percent in 2018. Eco-friendly homes also generate a lower carbon footprint, compared to traditionally constructed models. Here’s how environmentally conscious dwellings are saving the planet.
Use Recycled Materials
Developers often use new materials when constructing homes, rather than recycling materials from older construction. Eco-friendly homes tend to use materials that are easy to recycle, such as stone and wood. Brick, tile, cabinetry and other elements that are no longer suitable may also be salvaged and repurposed from houses and buildings.
Recycling building materials prevents landfills from filling up too quickly. Over time, the liners in landfills may become compromised as the ground and material settle. Cracks and other fissures enable toxic leachate to come in contact with aquifers and the surrounding soil, which can cause groundwater contamination.
Reusing old materials also reduces the number of new items needed for construction and, in turn, saves natural resources for future generations. Environmentally friendly homes often use these types of materials in conjunction with sustainably sourced resources.
Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Eco-friendly homes have better insulation and need less energy to maintain temperatures. They also have more energy-efficient appliances and use less electricity. Less power means burning fewer fossil fuels, which lowers greenhouse gas emissions and slows the rate of global climate change.
Improve Indoor Air Quality
On average, people in the United States spend over 90 percent of their time indoors. Unfortunately, the air inside homes is approximately two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. Fire retardants, cleaning supplies and organic compounds — including mold and mildew — are just several of the items that contribute to indoor air pollution.
Green homes typically have better ventilation compared to traditionally constructed models. The better ventilation allows for improved air quality inside of a house, which, in turn, reduces the volume of concentrated pollutants. Better air circulation will lower the risk of respiratory illnesses and improve health overall.