Houses and other buildings are directly or indirectly responsible for more than 40% of the greenhouse gas emissions.
Behind the energy consumption of buildings are thousands of fossil fuel-fired plants and a huge gas and oil network.
On average, over 80% of a home’s carbon footprint comes after construction, from energy consumption. Savings achieved during construction count about 20%, which while important, is not as important as preparing the house for energy efficiency. Do not forget: to be green a building should be able to have a small utility bill.We are building large homes, installing more air conditioners and more computers and appliances and energy-hungry electronics.
And we aren't paying enough attention to home design, construction techniques, or to issues such as home siting, sizing and orientation.
It's possible to build a comfortable and affordable house, with small energy needs. But to get it we need to follow strict rules. You can't compromise on basic principles.
Commandments for home energy improvements
Design, Architecture & Home Construction
Working and finding a knowledgeable architect
Working and finding construction professionals
Mortgages and Brokers
First Priorities When Building a New Home or Making a Big Renovation
Popular Architecture and Design Magazines are Full of Nonsense
We should not forget the Energy Improvement Golden Rule: energy conservation is usually less expensive and more environmentally-friendly than energy generation, even when the energy comes from renewable sources.
In other words: It’s cheaper and easier to save energy than to produce it; it’s usually more advantageous to save energy by installing high levels of insulation in our homes or by using energy efficient appliances and lighting systems, than by producing energy – even if it comes from green sources.
We give some examples below.
The role of photovoltaic systems and insulation
Many builders are promoting buildings by using PV solar panels, without having reduced their consumption through very high levels of insulation, air sealing and high-performance windows, or by designing the buildings properly.
And that’s not a great help. The PV solar systems are only one part of a marketing strategy. The PV systems will only be able to meet a small amount of the energy needs.
PV systems only make sense in tightly built and highly insulated homes where energy consumption has been reduced to low levels. See: Before Installing a PV System
Geothermal heat pumps in energy-efficient homes / Zero Energy Homes
Geothermal heat pumps systems are another example of a green technology that does not make sense in average single family homes. They make sense in schools and other large buildings, or in condominiums, with large energy needs, but not in single-family homes, built with energy efficiency in mind.
Radiant floor heating in green homes
Radiant floor heating is another example of a much-praised technology, often described as green, that doesn't make sense in well insulated homes. And the reasons are those already mentioned earlier. Radiant heating is expensive to install and to run, and can cause overheating problems in high-energy efficient homes. See: Radiant Floor Heating Efficiency