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What You Need to Know About Sustainable Construction

Posted by Chip Glennon on Monday, September 17th, 2018 at 9:12am.

Top Trends in Sustainable ConstructionSustainable construction and manufacturing have made some bold moves in the past few years, prompting many Olathe KS homeowners to learn more about how the new priorities and methods of building. From better insulation to zero-waste homes, there are a number of trends steadily progressing based on everything from federal guidelines to consumer demand. How are the advancements, attitudes, and atmosphere of sustainable construction are slowly transforming the traditional industry?

From the Top

The roof of a home can be a full 60° F (or more) higher than the temperature of the ambient air outside. When the sun is directly hitting the top of the home at peak temperatures in the summer, it's not uncommon for the roof to hit 150° F. This not only increases the temperature for those inside the home, it can also create a heat island effect in a major city. If there's enough smog in the city, it will trap the hot air inside a bubble — making the streets and the people below the roof even warmer. A cool roof is a sustainable solution designed to reflect the heat up to 50° F. This solution keeps homeowners' energy bills down while making the air outside their home more comfortable for everyone.

Heating and Cooling the Home

When temperatures start to fluctuate, homeowners can use geothermal energy or solar power as a means to cut back on their carbon footprint. Geothermal energy draws heat from the core of the Earth, while solar looks to the sky. Solar power has become much more popular in the past few years due to its increased efficiency and lower price tag. In fact, California will require all new homes to be built with solar power in the next two years, and it may not be long before other sunny states follow suit.

Geothermal energy is also becoming popular in states without quite as much sunshine. This technique can be used to either heat or cool a home, with help from the Earth's core temperature of 60° F. This technique involves installing pipes to distribute energy with the help of water and antifreeze. It will require electricity to power the pipes, but the energy used is typically far less than those of traditional heating and cooling efforts.

Understanding the Glass

From the windows to the doors, homeowners can install low-e glass to help control their heating and cooling costs. This product features a specially designed coating to reflect the sun's infrared energy. Homeowners can also learn more about smart glass, which allows owners to press a button to block out some or all of the light coming from outside. Before long, smart glass may rely on sensors and Wi-Fi to adjust the windows for the homeowner based on their personal temperature preference.

A New Lease on Materials

There have been a lot of manufacturers experimenting with how to make sustainable materials, and their achievements are becoming much more notable. Some people are siding their homes with bark shed from different trees, while others are painting their home with natural paint made from 98% lime. Insulators are using cotton from old denim jeans and floor manufacturers are using old wine corks. The underlying trend is to use recycled materials without compromising the quality or the beauty of the home.

The Zero-Waste Lifestyle

A zero-waste home is one that only uses recycled materials to build and natural resources to power. These homes tend to honor the architecture of our ancestors while using modern solutions to improve upon their original designs. For example, a homeowner may use rammed Earth (or a mixture of soil and clay) as the base of the home, along with a water run-off system to minimize the chances of water damage. These homes are not only environmentally friendly, they can also save homeowners thousands in energy bills.

The Future of Sustainability

Zero-waste homes may not be on every street corner today, but it's clear that we're moving closer to this ideal every day. It's estimated there will be a 45% increase in electricity and a 62% increase in natural gas in the US over the next 20 years. The Department of Energy has already said the demand will outpace the supply in the next two decades, making it important that everyone — from manufacturers to builders to buyers — understand how their choices affect their energy bills, their neighbors, and the larger world.

The options and technology of sustainable construction are moving along at a steady pace. And while homeowners may not have access to it all at the moment, there's reason to believe that green homes will soon become the norm rather than the exception.

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