The latest in Green Living

Say "goodbye" to the green home of the 20th Century and meet the 21st Century green home, a stylish, healthy, high-performance home perfectly suited to any lifestyle.

"Green building" – society's buzzword that refers to environmentally-sensitive construction – was once the dream of a select few forward-thinking environmentalists. It required compromises – compromises on design, lifestyle and price.

Today, however, green building is gradually becoming a reality, infiltrating every facet of life. Now, building green allows you to build the home of your dreams, and rewards homeowners with a healthier home for both their family and the environment.

Making seemingly small changes to one's own home may seem inconsequential when the nightly news is flooded with global warming headlines, but small efforts add up. Together, one home at a time, we can keep Cape Town clean and vibrant for future generations to enjoy as much as we do today.

BENEFITS: GOOD FOR YOUR ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH

The benefits of building a green home are diverse, but the most widely recognized outcomes are environmental. Reducing the environmental impact of homes is an important step towards fighting global warming and conserving valuable natural resources.

However, there are numerous, less publicized benefits of green homes. The first warms the heart of every South African – savings. Cost has long been considered a deterrent to building a green home, initially turning interested homeowners away. Closer inspection, however, reveals that price increases are generally only a few percentage points higher (a statistic decreasing as green practices become increasingly mainstream).

Learning to view these upfront costs as an investment is key. Additional expenses will literally pay for themselves in lower energy and water bills, tax and insurance credits and reduced repair needs.

Anyone buying a home should consider the, "total cost of ownership – the purchase price, plus operating costs, plus maintenance, plus taxes, etc. Often, one will find that the higher purchase price for a better built, more sustainable home has a lower total cost of ownership."

Economic Benefits

  • Reduced Material Consumption
  • Lower Energy Costs
  • Lower Water Bills
  • Low maintenance Due to Durability
  • Increased Home Value
  • Potential Lower Insurance Costs
  • Potential Tax Credits & Incentives

The superior energy efficiency of a green home reminds us that it's truly a high-performance home. Attention to detail and durable, sustainable materials makes a green home far superior to the average home on the market and results in numerous health benefits. Along with drastically improved air quality and reduced exposure to mold, mildew and toxins (of great comfort to allergy sufferers) green homes also maintain consistent temperatures and humidity levels throughout the home.

As the advantages of green homes become more desirable (and necessary) green elements will likely become standard on homes. Therefore, homes without green attributes may actually lose value. Going green today is a valuable way to protect your investment in your home, regardless of whether you think you will ever put it back on the market.

GREEN DESIGN

Contrary to popular belief, homeowners do not have to give up the personal style and luxuries that they have come to expect in order to build a green home. In the past, a green home could be spotted a block away by its simple design and unmistakable bank of solar panels on the roof. Fortunately, today nearly any architectural style can be built green. The green features are subtle (and often desirable) such as simple awnings and large porches for shade and durable building materials such as copper or steel roofing and brick walls.

We see green building as high-performance building. There are a lot of people looking for high-performance homes, and when we get involved we can explain how a high-performance home is really a green home, and then we can show you how we can continue to make improvements and help the bottom line. It's just the beginning.

Building a high-performance home, however, does require extensive planning. But this extra attention to detail can really pay off.

BUILDING GREEN

After careful research and consideration, you make the decision to build a green home. Now what?

There are numerous "shades of green" to building a home, which is often initially confusing to homeowners. Working with an experienced green home builder can be extremely beneficial

ELEMENTS OF A GREEN HOME

Innovations in green building technologies are immeasurable, with researchers developing new green products and strategies each day. Consequently, there is a vast array of areas in which a home can be designed to be green.

Sustainable Community: If you desire to be steadfast to the principles of a green home, consider building it within a sustainable community. These forward-thinking neighbourhoods strive to strike a balance between the natural systems of the area and the new homes. Every effort is taken to preserve natural resources while enhancing the community with pedestrian-friendly tree-lined streets, bike trails and sidewalks, thus creating inviting outdoor spaces. To reduce car trips, some communities incorporate shops and small cafés within walking and biking distance from homes.

Solar Orientation: "Siting" your home on its home site refers to orienting your home to true south to take advantage of the sun's natural path across the sky. In winter the northern sun helps to warm your home, and the exposure is particularly important if you have solar panels. Although not every home site will afford this orientation, attempt to get as close as you can.

Stormwater Management: Stormwater runoff from sidewalks and driveways and can be funnelled into underground storage tanks where it is filtered and gradually absorbed into the ground, drastically reducing the need for elaborate sprinkler systems. On a simpler scale, rainwater runoff from roofs can be funnelled into storage barrels to later be used for watering plants.

Size Matters: As a general rule, less is more... more green, that is. The larger the home the more energy it requires to operate. Reduce your home's footprint on its home site by building up rather than out. Small trade-offs, such as building the garage under another part of the house, can make a big impact by leaving more of the home site untouched.

Recycling: A green home may incorporate a diverse selection of products actually made from recycled materials, and due to modern innovations in production, they may be difficult to spot. Everything from carpet to counter tops to hardware can be made from recycled objects. Continue the sequence by recycling construction waste (this is particularly important with home renovations). An easy example: Any trees cut down during construction can be turned into firewood or mulch for landscaping.

Solar Power: If you don't think that solar panels fit into the architectural design of your home, think again. New breakthroughs in solar panel design offer the option to use a collection of small panels that resemble roofing tiles, seamlessly blending in with your roof.

Home Envelope: A vital step in making a home energy efficient is reducing uncontrolled air leakage. Innovative low-E (low emissivity) windows that improve the insulation value of the window itself. For the remaining exterior walls, increasing the R-value (resistance to heat flow) of insulation increases thermal performance and energy efficiency. When homes are built air-tight, controlled ventilation is typically added to maintain indoor air quality.)

Durable roofing systems such as steel or fiber cement rarely need to be replaced in a lifetime (experts refer to this trait as being "sustainable") and suit a variety of design styles. Incorporating subtle overhangs over windows and doors and terraces further protects your home against the elements.

Landscaping: In order to honor your community's sustainable design, make your landscaping sustainable as well. Planting indigenous species of plants and other drought resistant varieties as well as minimizing grassy lawn areas reduces irrigation