What makes a Green Home green? Is it the bamboo floors? Maybe it’s the low-e windows or the extra insulation in the walls? What about a high efficiency heating and cooling system? Or maybe it's a plaque by your front door that says, “I'm Green!”?

How about all of the above and then some? What about the word Green? Is that really the most accurate one to use, or is it too broad? How about Energy Efficient, High Performance, Net-Zero, or Passive?

If you can't decide on your own, there are always the many green building certification programs to help. You may be familiar withLEED for Homes, but what about ENERGY STAREarthCraft House,National Green Building StandardEnvironments for Living, orBuilding America Builder's Challenge.

 

All of this can be about as confusing as going to a coffee shop. Decaf? Skinny? Whip? Foam? Make it a Double? Do you want a scone with that?

 

How about just, "a cup o' coffee"? Period.


What would the equivalent be in designing a green home? Could we remove green, have all homes just be designed and built well so that green features are just part of the design? While studying Environmental Design in College, I heard a quote referring to incorporating green or sustainability in to our projects as “it’s just good design.”

 

So then, what is ‘Good Design’?

 

Well, with as little Architecturebuilding science or green jargon, (and, especially “no whip”!) I'll give you my view on what I consider good design. In the end though, what is good to me may not be good enough for you. So, mine is just a definition, notthe definition. Like when someone writes about the Civil War, the title should be “A History of America’s Civil War”, not “The History of America’s Civil War.”

 

Good Design: A definition


Good design begins and ends with the house as a system. But, not only based on building science basics that the link I just provided discusses. The house system includes many parts and functions, and all of them need to be considered. Incorporating the best practices of building science, energy efficiency is just one of those parts, and this is at the heart of what good design is. Every part plays its role and needs to be given its due respect. A good example of what I mean is how a centipede walks. All the legs look the same, and are just as important as the next leg to effectively and efficiently get the insect where it needs to go.

The best designed homes are complete systems where every part works together to make a home everything it needs to be, including functional, efficient, durable, and beautiful. The reason these homes are considered to be designed well is because everything about the home, from aesthetics to performance, is considered during the design as a whole and not separate parts. For example, if something is efficient and not functional, or durable and not beautiful, the design is broken and the home fails to live up to its purpose.

Good design considers and integrates every part (finishes, mechanicals, fixtures, accessibility, windows, etc.). Nothing is independent.

Good design makes sure that the exterior wall assemblies are designed to provide the best thermal and moisture protection, but not without considering what kind of windows and how they will be installed in that wall to maintain the thermal and moisture protection. And, that window will also be located, sized and shaded to allow the appropriate amount of light to the interior space. Good design also ensures that the structure will work with the heating and cooling equipment and its delivery system, but not without considering the interior design details, the location of a stair, and the occupants habits and comfort levels.

 

In good design, there are no islands.

 

Green Home photo by nickname and Coffee photo bycrestedcrazy from flickr.com, used under a Creative Commons license.

Views: 52

Tags: architecture, building, buildings, design, efficient, energy, good, green, homes, science

Comment

You need to be a member of Home Energy Pros to add comments!

Join Home Energy Pros

Home Energy Pros

Home Energy Pros was founded by the developers of Home Energy Saver Pro (sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy,) and brought to you in partnership with Home Energy magazine.

Latest Activity

Hal Skinner replied to Richard Beyer's discussion Spontaneous Combustion and Flash Fire regarding Spray Foam Insulation
"Richard, here is something else that might be pertinent. In my hundreds of conversations with our…"
52 minutes ago
Trip posted a discussion

Starting a Home Weatherization Business. Considering it...

I am considering starting a home weatherization business. (I live in Southeast Alabama)  Currently…See More
1 hour ago
Jim Gunshinan commented on Jim Gunshinan's blog post My Energy Upgrade California—The Numbers Are In
"To all, one thing I don't lack is advice from the experts! Thanks for the input, challenges,…"
2 hours ago
tedkidd commented on Jim Gunshinan's blog post My Energy Upgrade California—The Numbers Are In
"Jim, I'm glad you are open, that's great!  We all learn best when we are open! The…"
2 hours ago
David Eakin commented on Jim Gunshinan's blog post My Energy Upgrade California—The Numbers Are In
"Jim, Well, as the editor of Home Energy you should already know that the order of remediation is…"
2 hours ago
Greg Labbe posted a blog post

Technical Tape Desecration

Lets face it – building science is pushing the performance of adhesive tapes to a new levels and…See More
4 hours ago
Stacy Hunt posted an event

High Performance Enclosure Strategies: Part II, New Construction at Online

August 13, 2014 from 1pm to 2:30pm
Please join the Building America Program for our free webinar: High Performance Enclosure…See More
6 hours ago
Richard Beyer replied to Howard Katzman's discussion UV lights on filters
"Howard, There are numerous manufacturer's who swear these systems work and then you have the…"
15 hours ago
Christopher Morin posted a blog post

How do You Test a TXV?

  Thermostatic Expansion Valves (TEV or TXV), one of the most popular metering devices for…See More
18 hours ago
Howard Katzman posted a discussion

UV lights on filters

I recently saw UV bulb installations in 2 HVAC systems in a home. Each system had the Lennox…See More
20 hours ago
Don Fitchett joined Michael Stuart's group
Thumbnail

INFRARED THERMOGRAPHY USERS

This group is dedicated to knowledge sharing and discussion of infrared thermography for building…See More
20 hours ago
Don Fitchett commented on Diane Chojnowski's group Pinterest
"While most of our (BIN95.com) energy post and boards are industrial related, there are crossovers…"
21 hours ago

© 2014   Created by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service