Building green is affordable, practical (typically resulting in lower utility and maintenance costs), durable and healthy. Green building reflects a deeper spiritual value that people are buying, building, and remodeling with the environment in mind. It means leaving as light a footprint as possible on the earth.
Green building features can include energy-efficient windows and appliances; solar paneling; construction using recycled material or renewable resources; backyard composting; glues and paints with reduced levels of toxic fumes; earth–friendly insulation; and incorporating grasses, plants and shrubs into the landscape (to name a few).
Minneapolis–based Otogawa–Anschel Design–Build is committed to green living and green building, as is Jeffrey Swainhart of Swainhart Construction Services
“I look at the building not as a static structure, but as a system that exists over time,” Swainhart explains. “Our buildings are responsible for significant environmental impacts: greenhouse gas emissions, water usage and landfill usage. It is our responsibility to minimize those impacts. We spend 90 percent of our time indoors, so it’s important that we create buildings that are pleasant and healthy to be in.”
Double green in regards to energy—save money on your utility bill by making energy–efficient choices.
- According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, the gaps around windows and doors in an average American house are the equivalent of a 3-by-3 foot hole in the wall. Caulk and weather strip to seal these air leaks; use window putty to seal gaps around loose windowpanes; and cover bare floors with padded rugs for added insulation.
- Lighting accounts for about 15 percent of household energy use. If you swap five standard light bulbs for energy-saving compact fluorescents, you can save about $60 each year on electricity. EnergyStar compact fluorescents are tested for quality and longevity.
- Unplug seldom–used appliances and chargers when they’re not in charging mode. Keep them unplugged until you need them.
- Set computers to sleep or hibernate, allowing them to use less power.
- Use sunlight wisely. Leave shades and blinds open on sunny days during the winter, close them during the summer.
- Turn out the lights when you leave a room.
- Wash only full loads in the dishwasher and washing machine (this saves water and energy).