Simple and Green Building


| 4/25/2013 1:00:00 PM


Tags: green building, natural building, green homes, natural home, net zero energy, green remodeling, round house, Deltec Homes, Leigha Dickens,

I’m a green building consultant for a company that builds unique round homes in Asheville, North Carolina.  I work with customers from all over the US — customers who have all kinds of different dreams about what it means to build and live in a “green” home. You might imagine that I am involved in many LEED-certified projects, that I work with an array of neat technologies like wind and solar power, geothermal heat pumps, and greywater recycling systems. I do get a lot of customers asking about these things, and not a small few of them go on to incorporate these efficient and forward-thinking building systems into their new homes.  I’m both an environmentalist and a nerd, so I love seeing all of these things coming into more widespread use.

To me, though, the most important features of a sustainable building are not its technological wonders butWell designed green round home by Deltec Homes its simple design features:  common-sense strategies that should be incorporated whether the building becomes LEED certified, Energy Star certified, or is just trying to be environmentally friendly. These are the strategies that I find are at the core of green building.  I will go into more detail about these and other green building topics in future blog posts.

Photo at right: Well-designed green homes, such as this round Deltec Home in North Carolina, focus first on simple design features such as passive solar design, a simple shape, and quality craftsmanship.

1. Passive Solar

In the Northern hemisphere, south-facing windows let in considerable sunlight, which can offer free warmth in winter made better by how thoroughly the house is designed to harness that warmth. West-facing windows let in considerable afternoon sunlight as well, which, in an already-warm summer afternoon, can add quite a bit to cooling costs. North rooms are often the coldest in the house, because north windows see no direct sunlight to counteract the heat they lose. How the house is facing has a direct impact on the heating and cooling, and thus the energy, needs of the house.

 Minimizing window area on the north side, allowing the largest windows on the south side of the home, and employing good shading for east and west windows are basic design principles to allow you to take advantage of the environment around your home. This design strategy is a piece of “Passive Solar Design”—called passive because it’s not any kind of fancy piece of technology but is part of the home design itself.  Although not as outright impressive as a shiny array of solar panels, fully incorporating these and other Passive Solar techniques, outlined to great detail in books like Daniel Chrias’ “A Solar House,” can drastically reduce the amount of fossil fuels needed to heat a home.


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5/1/2013 4:29:31 AM

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