An eco-friendly or green home is one that has been built or modified to use energy and/or water more efficiently than a conventional home. They may include some or all of the following features:
- A renewable energy source, most commonly solar panels
- Composting toilet
- Natural materials, like wool insulation, organic paints or sustainably produced timber used in the construction
- Some of the materials used in the construction may also be recycled
- Energy Star Appliances
- A green roof
- Use of passive heating
Many eco-friendly homes will have LEED certification. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a rating system developed by the US Green Building Council. Developers and homeowners can earn LEED certification by designing or renovating a building to have as many green qualities as possible.
What are the advantages of an eco-friendly home?
A big advantage of an eco-friendly home is lower energy bills. Energy Star appliances are certified as such because they typically use 20 to 30 percent less energy than the federal standards require – and that is just the beginning.
A full-blown Passive House allegedly cuts energy bills by 60 to 80 percent. In this design, the focus is on insulation and air quality. Superior insulation keeps the Passive House utterly airtight. A house designed to have no leaks is one that is not going to waste energy on cooling or heating.
Eco-friendly buildings are also better for the environment than are conventional buildings. The sun is a much cleaner energy source than is coal or natural gas, so a house with solar panels on it is doing much less harm to the environment than a house using fossil fuels.
An eco-friendly home is also better for the owner’s health. Things that harm the environment can also harm people. For instance, conventional paints emit VOCs (volatile organic compounds) which are gases given off while the paint is being used. This may not be a problem outside, but it can contribute to indoor air pollution. VOCs that accumulate indoors can irritate people’s eyes, noses and throats. They can also damage the nervous system, liver and kidneys. Organic paints, by contrast, don’t emit VOCs and therefore don’t harm people’s health.
Eco-friendly homes also offer financial advantages. While they may be initially more expensive than conventional homes, they are less expensive to run. Because of their desirability, they sell well and therefore have a higher resale value than do conventional homes.