If you are interested in making sure that the home you will be living in is as environmentally friendly as possible, you have two choices. One option is to purchase an existing property and retrofit key areas using green technology. The second option is to purchase a plot of land and build from the ground up. While this may be too expensive for some individuals, doing so can afford you the most control over the items that are used to build the home that you will be living in.
If you do decide to start from scratch, here is some information on environmentally responsible choices. They can help you construct a home that is comfortable and which leaves as little impact as possible on the world around you.
At ground level and below
Traditional foundations used cement as their main ingredient. While cement can make a very durable base from your home, there are ways that you can make the foundation more environmentally friendly. One is to use straw or earth in the construction. This is a natural insulator and will reduce your energy bills. As it looks much like a standard foundation, it will not look different enough that it would affect the resale value of your home.
You may also want to build into an existing hill or install a heat pump system when building the foundation. Earth is an excellent insulator and at deep enough levels will stay at a fairly constant temperature. Using a geothermal heat pump will allow you to draw on this warmth and harness it to warm your home.
Which way should your house face?
Deciding which way your house should face is important. By orienting it to the south, it will be possible to use passive solar energy to heat your home. This will further reduce your heating bills. Passive solar systems allow heat to enter a home through large, well insulated windows. The heat enters but cannot escape. Also, by maximizing the amount of natural light available in your home you may also be able to reduce your electric bills as well.
Green Insulation options
If you are putting in new insulation you may want to consider using environmentally friendly insulation instead of the standard fiberglass materials. Options include spun glass insulation that is made from recycled bottles, or blown insulation that is made from a type of paper.
Once you have the basic structure determined you can then begin to look for other elements that will help make your home feel comfortable. Whether you paint with low VOC paints or choose recycled and repurposed items will be up to your taste and your budget.