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Environmentally Friendly Building

Posted by Ron Neal on Friday, August 8th, 2014 at 3:46pm.

According to Wikipedia, Green building (also known as green construction or sustainable building) refers to a structure and use of a process that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building's life-cycle: from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition. This requires close cooperation of the design team, the architects, the engineers, and the client at all project stages. The Green Building practice expands and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort. Although new technologies are constantly being developed to complement current practices in creating greener structures, the common objective is that green buildings are designed to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment by:
  • Efficiently using energy, water, and other resources
  • Protecting occupant health and improving employee      productivity
  • Reducing waste, pollution and environmental      degradation
While “green” has yet to be given a universally accepted definition, a green home would be defined today as a certified “green” home built to certain specifications and/or a home built by a certified “green builder”. This may include any number of green features. Even after choosing one of these two definitions, however, the consumer must select from a growing list of green home certifications or builders claiming green homebuilder status.   The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Homes (LEED-H) certification has enjoyed a role as one of the building industry’s defining models for green homes. A home built to LEED-H specifications can earn one of four designations: certified, silver, gold, and platinum. To receive the LEED-H label, a home is rated by unbiased third-party testers on eight green-related categories: design, location, being a sustainable site, water efficiency, energy, and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and awareness and education. It’s a widely accepted notion that a home can be considered “green” simply by incorporating green elements throughout the home, which can mean replacing a few old energy-hogging appliances with more energy-efficient ones or undergoing a complete overhaul of the home’s water devices. Any homeowner looking to “green up” a home in sections, should seek out the few systems and products that have green designations. Replacing any electricity-dependent items in the home with Energy saving versions will save on the home’s utility bill and can help reduce the home’s carbon footprint. As energy and water costs continue to increase, it is becoming increasingly economically feasible to incorporate Green features into construction. There are also subsidies and tax incentives to encourage further implementation. While this technology has been in use for two decades in Germany, Canada’s first residential passive house was a prefab house assembled in Whistler. Vancouver’s first Passive House has no furnace. It features walls that are 30 centimeters thick, are prefabricated, and heavily insulated. Windows are triple-pane and face south. Air-tight construction measures include leak-proof doors and nails. And the pitched, metallic energy-efficient roof combined to eliminate the need for a furnace. This modern and green built project that advocates both a healthy interior living space and a very functional, innovative floor plan. This home encompasses the latest in sustainable development and design, as well as the dedication of the builder for using environmentally committed quality products and materials. Incorporating these principles and building strategies, equates to an energy efficient home that was rewarded an Energy Guide rating of 80, as well as being awarded a ‘Built Green Gold’ designation. It also recorded a remarkably low Air Change Per Hour (ACPH) reading of 0.8963. This practical and efficient home not only reduces energy consumption and reduces overall utility bills, but reduces maintenance costs over time as well. Air exchange through an ultra-efficient heat recovery ventilation system is to prevent mildew and ensure the structure doesn’t become a huge oven. Water is heated through a solar thermal water-heating system on the roof. The passive house has room for future electricity-producing solar panels for when that technology becomes more affordable. The Canadian Passive House Institute notes on its website that the use of solar panels, geothermal systems and wind generators isn’t part of the Passive House standard: Those are considered by the institute to be “bolted-on and generally expensive.” They don’t affect the thermal efficiency of the house itself, the institute explains. “In a Passive House, the primary goal is to achieve a superbly well-insulated and tightly sealed building envelope, then introduce fresh air in winter via a very high-efficiency heat recovery ventilation system.” Local Victoria builders have increasingly been incorporating Green building practices and some recent developments include environmentally friendly features such as ground sourced Geothermal Heating. Geothermal heating is the direct use of geothermal energy for heating applications. Humans have taken advantage of geothermal heat this way since the Paleolithic era and today more than seventy countries make direct use of geothermal heating. Thermal efficiency is high since no energy conversion is needed, but capacity factors tend to be low (around 20%) since the heat is mostly needed in the winter. Geothermal energy originates from the heat retained within the Earth since the original formation of the planet, from radioactive decay of minerals, and from solar energy absorbed at the surface. Most high temperature geothermal heat is harvested in regions close to tectonic plate boundaries where volcanic activity rises close to the surface of the Earth. In these areas, ground and groundwater can be found with temperatures higher than the target temperature of the application. However, even cold ground contains heat, below 6 meters (20 ft) the undisturbed ground temperature is consistently at the ‘Mean Annual Air Temperature’ and it may be extracted with a heat pump. There’s no question that it costs more to construct a Green House, however, energy savings and other environmentally friendly factors justify widespread acceleration of the adoption of these systems and practices. For more information or help identifying Environmentally Friendly Green Construction please call for assistance.
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The Neal Estate Team

The Neal Estate Team is your #1 source for all of your Victoria BC real estate needs. Get in touch with us online or by phone at (250) 386-8181 to speak with a Victoria real estate buying or selling expert today. With decades of experience as a top selling Victoria REALTOR® and ranked in top 1% globally with over 4,000 transactions and $1 Billion SOLD, Ron Neal & The Neal Estate Team have the industry experience and market knowledge to help you make smart and informed buying or selling decisions. 


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