How to Have a More Sustainable Home Q&A: Tips from Experts
When you are trying to make your home more environmentally friendly, you are helping to improve the environment. Home sustainability should reduce the cost of running your home by conserving energy, water, system, and appliance maintenance. You also make a better environment for yourself, your family, and your pets.
We gathered some experts that helped us creating this article that will answer some of those questions that we normally have when trying to take more sustainable practices at
Section 1: Introduction
How to Choose the Most Sustainable Materials When Building a Home?
When you decide to build an eco-friendly, sustainable home, start out with a detailed plan that will create guidelines to keep your budget on track, allowing you to make “best practice” selections for your building materials.
An architect or designer experienced in green building practices will make sure that your plans work hand-in-hand with local sustainable resources and should be able to provide a list of distributors that sell these products.
Your involvement in the process of material selection should start by verifying product data sheets for material composition, air, and vapor permeability, as well as application and installation instructions that show conformation to guidelines established by LEED and other green building organizations. For wood products, make sure they are certified by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) to ensure that sustainable forest harvesting practices are being maintained.
Building your home with sustainable materials requires a substantial time investment but it will help keep the forests productive, the air clean, and contribute to a healthy environment for everyone.
Innovative Building Materials
How do you go green in construction?
Building Green means committing to the 5 pillars of Green. Energy | Health | Materials | Water | Place.
To measure this and know you are on track, you need 3rd party green building certification. This includes but is not limited to the LEED for Homes, GreenStar Homes Certification, NGBS Green Certification, or the Passive House program.
Each of these programs is a tool in your tool belt to guide you on ensuring your project is not just energy-efficient but also meetings the other important areas of green, especially having a healthier home.
Use their resources through design, construction, and even into how to operate your home.
Green Home Institute
How Can I Start Being Sustainable at Home?
Being sustainable at home means different things for everyone. The most important first step is to figure out what your goals are. Do you want to lower your footprint? Do you want to improve indoor air quality? Do you want to reduce toxins to support a healthy family? Getting clear on your WHY and then being strategic about the steps you can take to reach your goals will help you stay focused on what matters most to you, and avoid the overwhelm of trying to do too much. If creating a healthier home is part of your why, I’ve got resources and tools to help you! Visit greenathome.ca for free downloads, articles, podcasts, and more.
Emma Rohmann, environmental engineer, mom of 2, and founder of Green at Home
Section 2: Energy
Section 3: Food
How can I start an orchard at home no matter space?
Growing fruit trees in a small backyard allow for a hyper-local harvest! When choosing fruit trees for a small space, opt for dwarf or super-dwarf trees. Super dwarf trees are compact enough to grow in large planting containers like a half-barrel; dwarf trees get somewhat bigger. Use an espalier technique to train dwarf fruit trees like apples, pears, and peaches to grow flat against a warm, sunny wall or fence. Self-pollinating varieties are a must unless you’re able to plant trees in multiples.
Author of Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living (National Geographic Books)
Section 4: Benefits and Best Practices
What is the importance of recycling at home?
In my opinion, the absolute most important reason to recycle at home is to use the recycling process to train the younger generations on how to best protect our environment, our natural resources, and our planet. There are so many opportunities to recycle on the home front properly. By the way, Responsible Recycling and Reuse are both very easy to do so… “WHY NOT DO IT?”
1 Green Planet
What are the best practices to reduce plastic waste?
At Keep America Beautiful®, we encourage everyone to make it a priority to reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle at home, at work, and on the go. One of the first steps to reduce plastic waste is to analyze your consumer behavior and reconsider options and alternatives when shopping. Making swaps such as bringing reusable bags to the store, using real dishware at gatherings, and buying in bulk can reduce your plastic consumption. However, we believe it is also important to recycle more and buy products made with recycled content. When single-use plastic is the preferred choice or the only option in a situation, it is vital to dispose of your waste properly and that includes recycling what you can.
Keep America Beautiful
As you can read from our experts, having a sustainable home is an effort that we can all make and there’s no need of making a huge investment in the begging, by small actions we can start making more sustainable decisions at home and every day.
This article is still developing. Learn more here
The 2020 Green Homes Smart Market report is out!
“Third-party verification, whether through a HERS score or through certification, is the top way that home builders demonstrate to their customers that projects that they build are green”
A 3rd of single-family home builder’s top marketing tools include the Home Energy Rating Score (HERS) and a 3rd party Green Home Certification. Remodelers find that Green Certifications are the top for them compared to other forms of marketing. Even though builders and remodelers say green appraisals are important, they believe these 3rd party certification methods are a better means to help market their projects.
I think it is important because while we want to see more green appraisals occur, we know that the whole idea of a 3rd party rating is to give the appraiser assurance it is green and not necessarily rely on them to be green building experts.
Over 50% of those builders who say more than half of their projects are usually green projects are using green certifications AND HERS as a way to show it.
Check out the report here below, and if you are ready to take your business to the next level, you can learn more about our 3rd party green building certifications here. https://greenhomeinstitute.org/services/
There is often a misunderstanding that building a “green” or “environmentally-friendly” shed is the same as building a sustainable one. While closely related, there are distinct differences between the two. Building an environmentally-friendly structure involves using means that will not hurt the environment. However, building sustainably has even higher standards and is not only about not harming the environment but protecting it for years to come. This means a product or method might be “green” but it may not be sustainable if it takes a lot of resources to manufacture, releases pollutants into the environment, or there isn’t a viable way to dispose of it.
Benefits of a Sustainable Outdoor Storage Building
Utilizing this method isn’t just beneficial to the environment, it also advantageous to your pocketbook. Benefits of sustainable building include:
- Minimal operating costs
- Reduced carbon footprint
- Potential tax incentives
- Production of less waste
Constructing a sustainable garden shed is easier than you might think. This is your guide to building a garden shed with minimal impact on the environment.
Let Your Shed Do the Work
There are features you can incorporate that will allow your shed to self-regulate its temperature by keeping the heat in during the cold winter months and keeping the cool in during the hot summer months.
- Insulation – Make sure you use plenty of insulation in your storage building. It may come as a surprise, but many structures lack adequate amounts of insulation. Insulation made from sheep’s wool, cork, cellulose, and types of fabric such as denim is made with minimal manufacturing which makes them great sustainable options as opposed to your traditional fiberglass insulation. A little-known fact is that adequate insulation can also improve the acoustics of your shed.
- Thermal Mass – Optimize the thermal mass of a building, which is the ability of the exterior of your shed to absorb and store heat energy to combat external heat fluctuations. Concrete, brick, tile, and masonry are excellent options to choose for the exterior of your outdoor storage building.
- Ventilation – Adequate ventilation is important when your shed is well-insulated and air-tight to circulate fresh air and control the level of moisture in the shed. Poor ventilation can also be a potential health hazard. There are two main types of ventilation that you can incorporate into the design of your shed. Passive ventilation is openings near that roof that are typically screened to allow air to pass through. Wind ventilation uses the power of the wind to force fresh air through your structure.
Reduce the Need for Artificial Light
Maximizing natural light is a key part of building a sustainable outdoor storage building. Incorporating skylights, sun tunnels, and adequate windows throughout the building will reduce the amount of artificial light needed and thus reducing your energy bill and carbon footprint.
Tip: Make sure to use only energy-efficient products, such as double and triple pane windows, and make sure installation is airtight. Otherwise, your efforts will be counter-productive, and you will end up losing heat through the fixtures.
Alternative Forms of Energy
The use of solar energy or wind energy as alternate forms of energy to run your shed compared to traditional electricity reduce operating costs. These are excellent methods that require minimal resources and do not emit pollution into the environment.
How to Select Sustainable Materials
Incorporating these types of features is only part of building a sustainable shed. The second part is making sure to choose materials that meet the requirements. Here’s what you should look for when purchasing construction materials for your outdoor storage building:
- Choose items that require minimal processing, manufacturing, and shipping. All three of these require resources. The more that is involved in producing and delivering the product to its end location, the larger the carbon footprint.
- Look for products made with recycled materials. Repurposed materials mean fewer resources were needed to make the product and materials were used that would have otherwise ended up in landfills.
- Have an eye towards durability. Durable products will last longer, which means they won’t end up filling up landfills in a few years. Long-lasting products emit less pollution, ultimately save resources, and reduce your carbon footprint.
The Bottom Line
Sustainability is about taking advantage of what mother nature has already provided and caring for our resources so that generations to come have a healthy world to live in. Constructing a sustainable shed is easy to do with a little planning from the start. Get started on your own backyard garden shed by browsing FREE shed plans at shedplans.org.
Author: Jessica Bliss
Due to COVID-19, this event is postponed and will be hosted on August 25-26, 2020.
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