Green building is a building method that works to reduce or eliminate a building’s negative impact on the climate, the natural environment, and its occupants. Green building takes every aspect of construction into consideration — from planning and design to construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition — and constantly seeks to minimize the impact of each of those steps on the environment, while creating a home that is beautiful, comfortable, healthy, and sustainable.
Any building can be green, whether it’s a home, apartment building, office building, hospital or manufacturing facility. The term “green building” encompasses a wide range of building methods, and is used to define a sustainable, resource-efficient method of building. That means that all kinds of buildings can be green, regardless of architecture, style, or size.
Lose less, use less, and then produce should be the mantra of a well-built resource-efficient green home. This includes the following key features that make a building “green”:
Green building is a building method that focuses on planning, designing, and constructing an environmentally-friendly, sustainable building that is also beautiful, comfortable, and safe for residents.
Since green building can mean so many things, it might be helpful to look at an example of a “green” home. Meadowlark is a top green custom home builder and remodeler in the Ann Arbor area that has been using sustainable building methods for years.
This custom whole-home renovation is a great example of green building:
The goal for this green building project was to rebuild this home in a way that would get it as close to carbon-neutral as possible. Our clients were passionate about walking lighter on the earth and were classic “early-adopters” and thus wanted to incorporate as much cutting-edge green technology into the project as possible. To achieve their goals it was decided that the existing home would have to be taken down to the foundation and a new home built from the existing foundation up.
Here are just a few of the features that went into this green building:
The whole-home renovation was an ambitious green building product, with the finished home achieving LEED Platinum Certification. You can see more images of the finished green building, and learn more about what went into this whole-home renovation at the full client story: Pushing the Envelope.
When it comes to green building, there are a number of terms that are associated with green or sustainable construction. In the section above, we mentioned that the green home achieved a LEED Platinum Certification. If you’ve heard terms like LEED, passive home, or net-zero, it’s good to know that each of these terms refers to a green building method or certification that falls under the general umbrella term of “green building.” Let’s take a look at each of these green building terms, break them down, and offer an example of each.
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is a green building rating system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council that is recognized around the world as the standard for green building design, construction, and operation.
LEED uses a point system to score any building type on factors like:
The more points a building gets, the higher the level of certification achieved. LEED certification levels are, from lowest to highest, Certified, Silver, Gold, Platinum.
An Example of a LEED Certified Home
This 1910 Victorian was transformed from a state of total disrepair into a LEED Platinum Certified home. The Meadowlark team of designers and construction professionals used green building methods to bring this beautiful home back to life. Today, this home achieves net-zero many months of the year. Check out the full project.
Net-zero is a term that refers to buildings that are so green or energy-efficient that they produce as much renewable energy as they consume over the course of the year. While many of these homes do use solar panels in some way, passive house strategies are essential to ensuring that the home is designed and built for exceptional energy efficiency. Passive strategies include maximizing the solar orientation of the home so both passive and active solar strategies can be used to heat and cool the home.
Passive building or a passive house is another term you’ll hear often when you research green building. Passive building is more focused on the insulation, heating, and cooling of the home than the other terms. In general, passive building is most concerned with delivering the highest level of interior comfort for residents, with minimal energy use.
An Example of a Passive, Near Net-Zero Home
Reaching net-zero is no small feat in a climate as cold as Ann Arbor, MI. This beautiful home in one of Ann Arbor’s oldest neighborhoods was rebuilt using recycled and salvaged materials from the original home, along with new green technologies and building methods. A new solar array helps nudge this home right up to near net-zero. Check out the full project.
Whether you’re interested in a net-zero, passive, or LEED-certified home, green building methods will get you there. A building method that takes every aspect of the home into account, from using energy-efficient technology to sourcing sustainable and recycled materials, green building delivers a home that’s clean for you and for the environment.
If green building and sustainable living are at the top of your priority list for your upcoming new home build or remodel, Meadowlark Design + Build is your go-to firm in the Ann Arbor area. We’d be happy to answer any questions you have about green building or remodeling. Give us a call at 734-332-1500 or contact us online today.