If you're an eco-conscious individual who wants to build the most energy efficient home possible, you may want to consider purchasing a green home plan. These plans take the guesswork out of building an environmentally friendly house, ensuring that renewable materials and energy efficiency are kept as a priority throughout the building process.
Finding Green Home Plans
Green home plans can be designed or purchased in a wide variety of styles. It is important to think through your style preferences before contacting a potential architect or purchasing a blueprint. Keep in mind that after you purchase a green home plan, you can have it modified or enhanced by a variety of contractors, including geologists, construction specialists and engineers. If you don't find a plan the suits your needs, you can always contact a local architect who specializes in green home construction to help you design a custom home plan.
Conventional Green Homes
Most green home plans are built in a conventional style. Conventional homes include one- or two-story plans in the styles typically seen in new home developments. The house may be a square, rectangle or a combination of the two. Common conventional home plans include:
- Ranch style homes
- Cape Cod style homes
- Modern cube and suburban loft homes
- Colonial style homes
- Bungalow style homes
- Foursquare style homes
- Craftsman style homes
You can find a number of conventionally styled green home plans online:
Rounded or Dome Style
This style became popular in the 1960s as construction techniques allowed for the placement of beams to accommodate domed ceilings. The overall shape is curves, and may be round or oval. The house walls may be seamless around the curves or they can be constructed of a series of short sections which provide a "rounded" appearance when attached end to end in a circular manner. Common round house styles include the yurt and geodesic dome. Many rounded green homes come as prefab construction.
This style uses the Earth as a key portion of the home's construction. The advantage of this design is that the temperature about six feet under the Earth is consistent year round and so it will take less energy to heat or cool the home. The home could be built against the side of a hill, covered with dirt, or constructed totally underground.
The organic style uses the building site's natural elements, like wood, straw, clay and stone, as part of the building. Elements used vary widely and could include trees used for center supports, hills into which the home can be built and sun and air sources that can be captured to their advantage with skylights and windows.
Parts of a Green Home Plan
Green building is a growing home trend. The concept of "building green" does not just mean adding fluorescent bulbs or using more insulation. Building green considers the total environmental impact of the home during the design, construction, maintenance and use. If you are considering building a green home, your building plan should include elements with positive environmental impacts, such as:
- North-south orientation: South-facing windows will capture the natural light and solar energy
- Materials conservation: Minimize the amount of wood used with 2 x 6 exterior wall framing, as compared to 2 x 4 framing
- Energy-efficient design: Avoid high volume ceiling heights to avoid heat trapped at the ceiling
- Energy-efficient components: Windows should have a R-5 or R-6 rating, as compared to the typical R-1 window rating
- Heating and cooling systems: Heating and cooling systems should be energy efficient use renewable energy sources
- Water-wise: Water use should emphasize conservation and include systems such as low flow toilets and low water landscaping
- Eco-friendly kitchens: Countertops should be made of natural materials such as granite, marble or ceramic tile. Lighting fixtures should be compact and use energy-efficient bulbs
- Renewable materials: The materials checklist should only include building materials that are sustainable, recyclable, biodegradable and nonpolluting. Bamboo and rattan are good alternatives to hardwood
Choosing Your Green Home Plan
Choosing a green home plan is a highly personal decision, but you need to keep the building site in mind. If you're building on a hill or in a wooded area, you may want to consider an organic or earth-sheltered home. Similarly, if you're building on a plain, you may want to determine whether you can incorporate energy efficient wind power and passive solar features into your plan. Building a green home can help you realize a dream as long as you ensure you make the best choices for your family.