Making Homes Green

For some time, “green” building has been at the forefront of many of the changes taking place in the home building industry. From super-efficient construction standards to low-E windows to water saving devices, making homes perform better is a goal for both builders and homeowners.

But what about making homes healthier homes while making them green?

There is a long link between health and housing, dating from 19 th century tenements to the use of lead paint and asbestos in the 20 th century.

More recently, efforts to improve building performance have unintentionally created homes with high levels of indoor air pollutants. Indoor pollution levels may pose greater health risks to individuals since people spend a majority of their time indoors.

When these “sick” homes were discovered, builders were tasked with figuring out how to create “healthy” homes instead. As they learned more about what was causing the issues, they made changes to the materials they used, as well as to the systems they installed.

For example, Raleigh-based builder Royal Oaks Homes has what they call a “Healthy Homes Program” in their Stonehenge Manors community, featuring a variety of green and healthy elements.

It’s not hard to see why builders have started implementing “healthy home” protocols, such as:

1. Programs like Indoor AirPlus or Environments For Living Certified Green

These programs help create unified systems in each home, allowing heating and cooling, indoor air quality and water conservation to work together seamlessly. A home built with tight construction, right-sized HVAC and fresh air ventilation will be healthier as well as eco-friendly.

2. Moisture Management

Water in all of its forms is a home’s biggest enemy. Too much moisture leads to mold, mildew, and insects. Healthy homes have construction features and internal systems designed to keep water where it belongs — outside the home. Using moisture-resistant building materials in moisture-sensitive areas of the home helps as well.

3. Using low VOC materials

AirRenew wallboard improves indoor air quality, absorbs VOCs (volatile organic compounds), and converts them into safe, inert compounds. And it is recyclable. There are also a variety of low-VOC paints and carpeting available.

4. Air filtration Systems

Using hospital-grade air filters with a MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) of 8 or greater, or an approved electronic air cleaner, provides extra protection from contaminants.

5. Combustion Safety

Appliances such as gas ranges and ovens, furnaces, gas water heaters, gas clothes dryers, and fireplaces can result in an increase of carbon monoxide. These appliances should be sealed or power-vented to help avoid such buildup, and carbon monoxide detectors should be mandatory.

Obviously, building healthy homes is a considerable investment in time and money. After homebuyers learn of all the advantages of a healthy home, most people agree it’s worth the cost .

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