Green Design in New Urbanism

In urban areas, the sustainable designs of what is sometimes called the “new urbanism” are becoming popular. They take advantage of making high-density living enjoyable and efficient.

Multi-Use Green Designs

One of the tenets of the new urbanism is combining residential and retail spaces in the same building. This allows city dwellers to easily walk to the bakery and cleaners around the block rather than making trips all over town. It also seeks to eliminate the need for automobiles by placing such buildings near public transit such as urban train lines.

Green Certification

There are organizations that make inspections and give out ratings of green certification. Not unlike the organizations that certify organic foods in the US, these organizations are NGOs that have drafted documents that outline the basic requirements of sustainable building and design practices and judge buildings accordingly.

Water-Saving Green Designs

Conserving water in these designs is a high priority. Many of the most highly rated green buildings make the best possible use of water, often even harvesting it from the sky for use. Eco-roofs are one way that gray water from residential and business use can be recycled for irrigation. Moreover that irrigation can support plants that help cool in the summer and function as insulation in the winter.

By building such developments with water conserving devices such as low flow toilets and facets, high capacity washing machines, hot water on demand and others, vast amounts of fresh water can be saved in the first place.

Urban Agriculture

These buildings are, perhaps surprisingly, well-suited for urban agriculture. Green roofs can be used to grow fruiting crops and even trees that are now gracing roofs all over the world. As agricultural and horticultural productions are brought closer to city, more people in urban areas will begin to have a stake in their own food.

Retrofitting Old Designs To Green Designs

Not all building projects are new construction. There are many old buildings that can be retrofitted to adapt to a new, low-carbon urban environment. This process goes well beyond installing some insulation. The actual function of many older buildings can be adjusted with redesign to encourage new urbanism in older buildings.

Green Design – 7 Ways to Use Green Products in Your Next Renovation

More and more people are concerned about the environment and individuals are asking what they can do. While doing a home improvement project may not seem to be eco-friendly, there are ways you can improve your home and be green at the same time. Here are 7 ways you can go green.

1) Use Green paint. No I don’t mean paint everything green. I mean use zero VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paint. Many leading brands are now using these zero emission paints. You can find these paints in a wide variety of colours and they are available in both interior and exterior grade.

2) Use Eco-friendly flooring. Consider using Bamboo or cork. Bamboo has a modern feel to it and Cork is comfortable to walk on. There are also eco friendly hardwood flooring options that are easy to install and look great. For carpet, look for wool or linen and consider sisal or grass for area rugs.

3) Purchase Energy Star rated appliances. Most of the top brand appliances are offering energy efficient options. They allow you to save time and money and you can get rebates back from the government.

4) Recycle materials you already own. Have fun and get creative with the things in your garage. Break up old tile and create an interesting table top or backsplash. Take old scraps of fabric and create colourful throw pillows or a piece of wall art.

5) Use HardiPlank siding instead of vinyl. Vinyl siding is flammable and toxic to produce. HardiPlank is made from wood pulp and it comes either pre finished or ready to paint. It won’t rot, crack or split.

6) Buy Green furniture. Again I’m not referring to the colour, not that I have anything against a green sofa. More and more furniture designers are getting into the green movement and creating pieces made from recycled materials and eco-friendly fabrics.

7) Change your lights. You can now find a great selection of fixtures that use LED lighting or Fluorescent bulbs. They both use 75% less energy than incandescent fixtures. If you aren’t planning on changing the fixtures themselves you can still be green. Switch the bulbs to CFL’s or compact fluorescent bulbs. They last 10 times longer than the incandescent bulbs.

Hopefully you can incorporate some of these tips in your next renovation project. Ask your favorite retailers to show you their eco-friendly lines. I think you will be surprised how much is out there now in green products.

Green Design Will Save the World

Green design is not a new concept in building. It has been around since ancient times as our ancestors considered their natural surroundings and resources to build their homes. Green design is simply designing structures in an environmentally friendly fashion, taking into consideration the whole building as well as the occupants that will reside in it.

Three core goals of green, or sustainable design are energy efficiency, natural resources conservation, and indoor air quality. The aim is to make a positive difference in the world around us by reducing negative human impact on our planet due to poor construction methods. We hear so much of the bad plight of our environment from air pollution to land deforestation to depleting fossil fuels. Green designers have risen to the challenge to take a systematic approach of designing buildings from beginning to end with energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and materials selection first and foremost in mind.

With buildings contributing to more than 40 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, green designers aim to be as energy efficient as possible in the hopes of helping to reduce that percentage. Designers aim to reduce their carbon footprint by using renewable energy sources such as solar power when possible as well as utilizing recycled products. Solar hot water tanks are becoming more and more popular in new construction homes to reduce the amount of energy in heating our water for our homes.

Passive solar designs are also becoming more popular as designers educate potential builders of the benefits of such design. With this type of home design, heating costs can be cut between 30 and 50 percent. With this type of green design in mind, your home will be designed to face the south so that the sun can be used more efficiently to heat your home when needed. With energy efficient, south-facing windows, better insulation, and great design, you will be pleased to see your heating bills decrease.

Almost every resource that goes into your home can be environmentally friendly. Green design has come a long way in the past thirty years and many resources abound geared toward reducing your carbon footprint. A good designer will give you various options regarding materials to use in building or remodeling your home. Everything from roofs to recycled lumber to counter top and carpet can be environmentally friendly.

Indoor air quality is an important part of green design as well. Indoor air pollution has been a problem for many and the high rate of asthma alone in the U.S. has been blamed on poor indoor air quality. Green designers will take this into consideration and be sure to design proper ventilation for your home as well as use environmentally friendly products such as insulation, lumber, carpet, paint, and more.

If you are concerned about the environment and would like to make your home more environmentally friendly, hire a green designer or consultant to discuss how you can make changes to do so. Whether you simply want to reduce the carbon footprint of your current home, remodel, or build a new home, green design ought to be one of your main concerns and well worth the consultation.