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Are You Dreaming About Building an Eco-Friendly House?

Category: Green Retirement Communities

By Cynthia Booth

If you have ever dreamed of living your retirement in a dream home that is friendly to the planet, this article is for you.

Denis Carpenter recently acquired a small vacant lot and, to achieve his concern for the planet, planned a residence that was environmentally friendly and easy to maintain. Denis hired designers and Jersey City citizens Richard Garber, assistant professor at New Jersey Institute of Technology’s College of Architecture and Design in Newark, and Nicole Robertson of GRO Architects in New York City to design and oversee the construction of his single-family house. The result is genuine proof of both innovative design and eco-friendly technologies.

What’s so special about this home?

– Inside the home, on the ground level, radiant heating beneath the exposed cement floor warms the bath room and bed rooms.

– In the loft-like second level, sleek aluminum and stainless steel railings accent the bamboo stairway to the mezzanine, lounge room and an artfully designed kitchen outfitted with salvaged devices and cabinetry.

– Passive air conditioning strategies like fans and clerestory windows make it easy for owners to stay cool during summer and warm during winter months.

– The roof has 260 feet square of photovoltaic panels that deliver around 2,000 kilowatts of energy annually to a battery stored in the basement.

– The roof has an area planted with drought-resist materials to collect rain.

This single family 1,600-square-foot home was constructed in six months and won a 2009 American Institute of Architects merit award and the 2010 Green Building of the Year Award from the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency.

How could you convert your existing home into an eco-friendly home without paying too much funds?

If you’re renovating a home, perform an energy audit first to help you establish what energy efficiency improvements should and can be made to your home. In this way you’ll analyze how much energy your home consumes. Start by developing your list of ‘Must-haves’ and ‘Nice to haves’. This will help you in developing a picture of what you need in your new home design and serve as the basis for all your research, make sure to check out, for most people, the home building process will come down to these two major things

My personal favorite eco-friendly method is the passive solar cooling/heating design.

– Passive solar signifies that your home’s windows, walls, and floors can be created to collect, store, and distribute power from the sun in the form of heat in the winter season and reject solar heat in the summer time.

– Existing structures can be adapted or “retrofitted” to passively collect and store solar heat too.

The next 5 aspects constitute a comprehensive passive solar home design:

The Collector – The area through which sunlight enters the building (usually windows).

The Absorber – The hard, darkened surface of the storage element. Sunlight hits the surface and is absorbed as heat.

The Thermal Mass – The materials that retain or store the heat generated by sunlight below or behind the absorber surface.

The Distributor – The system by which solar heat circulates from the collection and storage points to different areas of the house.

The Controller – Roof overhangs can be used to shade the aperture area during summer months or Thermostats that signal a fan to turn on.

About the writer – Cynthia Booth writes for the architecture careers information blog. It’s a nonprofit web-site dedicated to offer help for beginning designers who need resources for their careers. Cynthia would like to raise the consideration on eco-friendly home design and change the general public perception of energy efficiency.

Posted by John Brady on September 14th, 2010

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