Blogs > Ed Binkley > April 2010

A Call for Sensible (Responsive) Housing: Part Three of Three: The Low Hanging Fruit


One of the first considerations when beginning a green project is asking the question, “how green can we go?” My response is to pick the low hanging fruit and base your decisions on budget, homeowner desires & goals, availability, and user friendliness.

The first response from many is that “green costs more”, which (fortunately) is becoming less and less true. Studies are being compiled now that, for the first time, offer actual comparisons of in-place systems based on payback and life costs. And the results are encouraging for all of us in this business.

With lower budget housing most of the upfront decisions will be based on the shell of the building, which includes three primary areas of focus; the construction system, window package, and insulation. If these three areas are well specified then we are about 75% there, the rest is budget and goal driven.

Some of the moderately priced MEP systems to consider include heat recovery ventilators that bring fresh air inside through existing ductwork, water circulation systems that direct cold water normally headed down the drain back to the water heater, tankless water heaters that are a point of service heat source, geo-thermal systems that capitalize on ground source temperatures for heating and cooling, and solar thermal collectors for hot water.

Pay attention to the window package and specify windows that are low E and Energy Star rated. Pay attention to the orientation of your home and place windows accordingly, if extra UV protection is needed add a solar film to windows of high sun exposure. Also consider exterior shading devices such as awnings and landscape.

The lighter the roof and base color of the home the better the reflective quality, and will direct heat away from the home and back to the surrounding surface…so landscape and softscape solutions should also be well thought out to avoid any heat island affects. Low water usage, low maintenance, and seasonal vegetation should be researched and incorporated. Also check into local green guidelines and with your nursery for water tolerant and indigenous plantings for your area…remember being green also has to do with how you spend your free time. If you like to tinker in the lawn and garden do it because it is an enjoyable hobby…not because bad decisions were made in selecting plant materials.

There are many systems, applications, budgets, and considerations to be made. Pick what works best for you, and remember it is okay to take one step at a time. The important thing is to do “something” that makes a difference. The end result should be a home that is considerate of its surroundings, responsive to the elements, allows the homeowner some freedom of choice, and can be easily duplicated.

Posted: 4/22/2010 9:39:59 AM by Ed Binkley | with 0 comments



About Me

Ed has been instrumental in responsive housing design since 1985, having been a partner with two national architectural firms in the past, he opened "ed binkley design, llc" in July of 2009. He has a strong focus on an affordable, green, systems approach to housing, which coincides with his development of “the shelter series”, a collection of small rapidly built homes that incorporate sustainable principles. Ed’s experience also includes work with national and international green housing programs and the design of several demonstration homes that highlight sustainable design principals. He is a frequent speaker at symposiums, contributing editor to national publications and has been featured on a variety of HGTV and radio programs presenting his green building philosophies. Ed has a strong belief that green design starts with a responsible program and client…and the end result is only as successful as that collaboration is strong.

 

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