Tag Archive | "green house"

Designing a Zero Energy Building

Designing a Zero Energy Building

This guest post is by Liezl De Ocampo of CircularEnergy.com.

People are getting more conscious about their environment. As they strive to live a healthy life, they also find ways on how to conserve energy and support environmental campaigns. It is good to know that aside from residential buildings, business establishment can also be remodeled into an eco-friendly unit.

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Is it really possible to achieve a zero net energy consumption? One can say that it’s close to impossible but there are ways to closely achieve it. Though it is really challenging to set your net energy consumption to zero, it is possible to lower it to the minimum level.

The first option is to contact green home builders who will design a zero-energy building whether it is for residential or business use. There are lots of providers who can also remodel your homes to make it environment-friendly. They can schedule a free assessment at your site to perform analysis of the property and discuss the plans such as layout, sunlight and shading, electrical services and others.

A zero energy building or a zero net energy (ZNE) building refers to a building with zero net energy consumption and zero carbon emissions yearly. It can be an independent establishment away from the energy grid supply or energy can be harvested on-site. There are also buildings approaching zero net energy and they are called a “near-zero energy building” or “ultra-low energy house”.

How can an existing residential building turn into a zero-energy unit? The design phase is crucial when building or transforming into a zero energy building. But with client collaboration and high-end technology, a modern green architecture is really possible. Here are some important concepts to understand how a zero energy building is designed:

Zero Energy Lab in Texas (image via Wikipedia)

Zero Energy Lab in Texas (image via Wikipedia)

Design and construction

With the progress made in new construction technology and techniques, modern zero energy buildings become easier to construct and maintain. During the design process, it is important to strategize toward the reduction of building’s energy consumption. Shading, solar orientation, material selection and every decision can lead to the success of ZNE building. It can also lead to minimizing heating use through passive solar design. To reduce energy demands, choose a highly efficient water heater. It is also worth investing on solar water heating units and tankless systems.

Common energy resources utilized by popular zero energy building designers are sunlight and solar heat, blowing breezes, and earth temperature. ZNEB are built with significant energy-saving features which enables the heating and cooling load to be adjusted or lowered. These are made possible through high-efficiency equipment, quality insulation, high-efficiency windows, natural ventilation and other popular techniques. ZNEB features vary depending on the climate zones and construction site. Other factors involved are daylighting, nighttime illumination, and miscellaneous electric loads.

Energy Harvest

Energy is harvested for electrical, heating and cooling needs of zero energy buildings. Common technologies uses are microgeneration, using solar cells or wind turbines, biofuels, or solar thermal collectors. It is also important to have an electricity grid to cope with fluctuating demand of energy.

Harvesting of energy in group is known to be more cost-effective and resource-efficient. The topography of the location also provides benefits to energy harvesting in commercial and industrial applications.


Here are some benefits to enjoy when switching to a zero energy building:

  • Reduced total cost of ownership with improved energy efficiency
  • Minimal requirement for energy austerity
  • Comfortable unit due to more uniform interior temperature
  • Stability of energy prices
  • Reliable photovoltaic system
  • Higher resale value of ZEB

While there are lots of advantages and benefits, it is also important to take note that zero energy building is a real investment that it may have high initial cost. However, these expenses is worth all the benefits.

This post was contributed by a guest writer. If you’d like to guest post for Naturally Earth Friendly please check out our Become An Author page for details on how YOU can share your tips with our readers..

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Building an Eco-Friendly Custom House

Remember to Consider Your Landscape When Building an Eco-Friendly Custom House

Some homeowners are realizing that for about the same cost of buying a home they can have a custom house built instead. This option lets people avoid the problem of buying a house they love, but in a less than desirable area. And get their dream house sooner than they originally thought possible.

How many people do you think find their dream house and pass it up? Perhaps the house was too close to railroad tracks or an airport. Or maybe it was in a bad school system. Location is important. You hear Real Estate Agents say it all the time, “It’s all about location, location, location.”

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This is one of the many benefits of choosing to build a custom house. Selecting to have your house built from the ground up allows you to first choose a location you love and then the house is constructed to fit your needs. It is the ultimate in flexibility.

House construction will also give you more control. You can custom tailor the house plan to fit your needs, including the number of bedrooms, whether or not you want a study or office, a game room or even a formal dining room. In addition to the home’s layout you will also have more power over the construction materials used to build your home. This will allow you to implement eco-friendly building materials and systems.

Choose a Reputable Company

First you’ll want to research the different home builders in your area to find a reliable construction company, such as Schumacher Homes. It’s important to find a reputable company that has been around with few grievances.

With a search for Schumacher Homes you’ll notice there are very few people voicing complaints. Even though the number of complaints is important it is also a good idea to look into the complaints more thoroughly. This will help you determine whether they will impact your decision.

You often hear people talk about businesses in the negative, but there may be many more satisfied customers who are just being quiet. Often times they are geographically isolated with a specific section of a larger company. Keep this in mind when doing your research.

Eco Friendly Contemporary Custom House - Schumacher Homes G Line

Eco Friendly Traditional Custom House - Schumacher Homes G Line

Schumacher Homes

Known as America’s largest custom homebuilder, Schumacher Homes currently offers 12 eco-contemporary floor plans and 13 more traditional floor plans to choose from in their G Line. You can then customize them to better meet your needs. They specialize in building custom homes on your own lot.

“Energy efficient homes protect the environment and are more comfortable, while also providing lower utility bills. We take extra steps to make sure that your home is the most energy efficient it can be with features like Andersen® windows, upgraded insulation, high efficiency HVAC systems, house wraps and tight construction.” (SchumacherHomes.com)

After you decide upon a home builder you’ll want to work with the contractors to incorporate green home design factors. The most common eco-friendly house plans generally have a contemporary feel to their design, but more traditional plans can also implement sustainable construction practices.

Design with the Landscape in Mind

Design Green Custom House with Landscape In Mind

When you begin designing your home you will want to work with your region and existing landscape as much as possible. Unfortunately, many heavily wooded areas are clear-cut for homes to be built today. This is not always necessary and may cost you more money than you think.

Instead you can build your home within existing open sections of a wooded area to take advantage of passive cooling and solar heating. This has the potential to help you save on your future monthly energy costs. This will hopefully eliminate the need for clear-cutting the trees, which is bad for your environmental landscape and can be quite expensive.

To help your home’s climate stay more comfortable you will also want to take your house’s position into consideration. How you orient the home can have drastic effects on your heating and cooling costs. If you live in a warmer climate you will want to have smaller windows on the south facing side to minimize extra heat from the sun and larger windows on the north side to maximize natural light. If you live in a cooler climate you’ll want to do the exact opposite.

Another way to benefit from planning around your region and climate is with energy consumption by choosing the right colors. This includes the exterior color of your home. If you live in a warmer climate you will want to use lighter colored exteriors to help reflect the sun’s heat. However, if you are building in a cooler region you will want to choose darker exteriors to absorb solar heat to help keep your home warmer.

By thinking about your region and landscape during the design process you can add budget-friendly options that will have a great effect on your overall environmental impact and household costs.

Sustainable Options to Consider

There are many different options to choose from when deciding on the materials used in building your new custom house, but that’s not the only thing to consider. In addition to materials you’ll want to think about the actual systems your house uses for energy, water, heating and cooling. Often these items cost more to install, but will have a better return on investment and pay for themselves in a few years. Most commonly used in residential houses are solar panels, green roofs, and tankless water heaters.

Solar Panels on Eco-Friendly Custom HouseSolar Panels

With several options to collect your own energy solar panels are by far the most popular and readily available. Typically placed on your roof solar panels will collect solar energy and it will be used for your electrical needs. If you have large enough panels you might even send extra energy back to the grid and have the electric companies paying you.

Install a Green Roof

To help keep your home more insulated you can install a green roof. In addition to helping keep your energy consumption down you’ll have an attractive roof. This can be a small roof garden to grow vegetables and herbs or a larger roof of grass.

In addition to installing a green roof you’ll want to control water runoff by storms and rains. Drains and gutters can be used to direct and collect rain water into cisterns for other uses, such as irrigating your landscape.

Hot Water System

Traditional hot water systems use a tank system that wastes a lot of energy. Today on-demand water heaters are more popular as they will only use energy to heat the water when you need it. This will reduce your energy costs in the future.

Conclusion: Build a Custom Green House

Whether you are building a new custom home or remodeling your existing home you will want to incorporate several eco-friendly construction practices to limit your environmental impact. In addition to being more sustainable you’ll enjoy cost-savings with the more energy-efficient systems and materials.

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