When most people think of environmentalism, they tend to reference recycling and waste management. While both of these areas certainly have an impact on the Earth, they are not the only options that should be considered. While the Earth is rich in natural resources, they are being depleted at a rapid rate due to increased demand and wasteful overconsumption. Electricity and water are essential, and the consumption of these resources can be particularly high in industrialized nations where the populations have grown accustomed to these conveniences.
One solution to the energy crisis is green building, which is essentially the process of using sustainable materials to build or renovate homes in such a way that energy is used more efficiently. The goal of green building is to reduce our overall dependence on natural resources while helping to make energy conservation a conscious choice. Homeowners can opt for energy-efficient building materials and appliances. In addition, they should ensure that they monitor their daily energy usage.
Solar Power Building Solutions
Solar power was once a solution that was discussed, but underutilized by homeowners and builders due to availability and cost. However, over the last decade the use of solar power in homes has grown exponentially. Over 1 million homes in the United States now have some form of solar power, as of 2013.
Solar power uses the light from the sun to convert its energy into electricity. Solar power is a truly sustainable resource, as it does not run out, can be accessed all over the world, and can be easily stored in solar cells. Solar power is classified as either active or passive—with active solar power encompassing heating and cooling applications, and passive solar power involving the architecture of a structure itself.
While solar power has definitely seen an increase in use in recent years, there are many people who still do not use this technology in their homes, particularly in the United States. Solar power usage continues to see an increase in use year after year, and it is expected to grow even more in the coming years as consumers become more educated about its benefits.
Roofing is another home component that can be energy efficient in nature. Whether it is used as as part of a newly constructed home or as a roof replacement, sustainable, energy-efficient roofing makes sense from a variety of perspectives.
Metal roof panels are a common material used in order to deflect the rays of the sun, resulting in cooler homes in the summer months or in regions of the country that have high temperatures year-round. Many standard metal roof panels can be modified and made more energy efficient by applying a special film, while others are specially designed metal panels with built-in solar deflection technology.
The use of energy-efficient roofing materials has been shown to not only help conserve resources, but also to facilitate up to a 40 percent reduction in cooling costs for homeowners. Additionally, the use of these materials lowers the surrounding outdoor air temperature by up to 12 degrees. On top of these benefits, metal roofing is usually composed of recycled materials, which reduces landfill waste. The durability of metal roofs means that they require very little maintenance.
Sustainable Building Materials
Roofs are not the only home building materials that can be used to conserve energy and other resources. Up to 40 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, and office buildings are a major contributor to this problem. Not only do these buildings use large amounts of resources such as electricity and water, but the materials used to construct these buildings are often not sustainable.
Sustainable or green building materials range from responsibly sourced wood, non-toxic paint, and components manufactured from recyclable materials. The benefits of green materials include reduced energy consumption, lower maintenance costs, as well as improved health of the occupants.
Several Criteria for Building Materials
Green building materials should ideally fit several criteria. You should look for materials that indicate that they conserve water, improve air quality, and/or conserve energy. In addition, you should work with a builder or home remodeling professional who is knowledgeable about green building options and practices in order to ensure that you are making the best decision for your situation.
Green building is an excellent way to do your part in conserving energy and helping the environment. If you plan on constructing a green home in the future, you should consider using as many sustainable materials as possible. If you are already in your home, green materials can easily be implemented when remodeling or replacing common home components. By using these tips to identify green materials and consulting with reputable contractors, you can ensure that your home is contributing to a better environment and saving you money at the same time.