Eco friendly, or green homes have come a long way in just a short time. Ten years ago, the idea of an eco friendly home created images of large solar panels rising from rooftops. To many people, making a home “green” meant having to turn their lives over to mother nature. Eco friendly homes were for tree huggers, not for the everyday person.
Perception of an eco friendly home
Today, the perception of what an eco friendly home is has changed dramatically, and the results have brought the idea into mainstream society. There is more to an eco friendly home than a series of solar panels. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, an eco friendly home is one that “uses less energy, less natural resources, and releases fewer toxic chemicals.” Additionally, an eco friendly home should be indistinguishable from traditionally constructed homes (Max).
Demand for eco friendly homes
The demand for eco friendly homes is rising across the world. In some places, eco friendly homes are being built from the ground up, while in others, individuals and families are simply upgrading existing homes by using insulating foam, painting with non-toxic paint, and installing wooden floors from sustainable yield forests to make them greener. The benefits of these eco friendly homes can be seen in the amount of money that is saved on energy costs. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a typical home can lose anywhere from 15-20 percent of its cool or warm air as a result of air duct leaks. Eco friendly homes save money by reducing the amount of energy that is wasted through the use of energy efficient appliances and construction materials.
The popularity of eco friendly homes is not limited to the United States. In recent years, there has been a noticeable rise in the demand for eco friendly homes and housing in Canada (Davis). Across the country, individual homes and larger housing complexes are making the decision to go green. In South Ottawa for example, real estate developers are working together with architects, engineers, homeowners, and eco friendly housing experts to help build new eco friendly homes. The goal is to eventually move from building individual green homes to building entire green communities. In this particular South Ottawa effort, the eco friendly homes feature everything from a method of harvesting rainwater to be used for irrigation and a built-in recycling center, to natural ventilation, and fluorescent lights throughout the home.
Another program in Toronto is taking existing homes and converting them to eco friendly ones. The project, known as The Now House project, is taking homes built during World War II and converting them to eco friendly homes. The push toward green homes is so strong in Canada that there is a strong effort not just to create green homes, but to create near-zero or zero energy homes. These homes are designed to produce just as much energy as they use, making for an overall energy use of zero. In fact, the goal is to have every single home in Canada be zero-energy by the year 2030 (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation). The goal seems extremely ambitious, but with contests that boast $50,000 and $100,000 awards for the winning design, the Canadian government feels that a net zero energy house design is not too far away (Dunn).
More and more individuals across the planet are becoming willing participants in the move toward greener, more eco friendly living. Whether it means driving a hybrid vehicle or living in an eco friendly home, the general goal is to minimize the amount of energy wasted and the amount of carbon that is released into the environment. With a drive toward eco friendly homes and housing in Canada and everywhere else, progress is definitely being made.
Written by Martin Jauregui
Davis, K. “Eco Friendly Prefab Home Gets Attention.” The Toronto Sun 01 October 2005.
Dunn, C. “All Canadian Homes to be Zero-Energy Homes by 2030.” Design & Architecture 18 July 2006.
Max, S. “Your Home: Is Going Green Worth the Cost?” Money 21 June 2007.
United States Department of Energy. 5 July 2008. U.S. Department of Energy. 1 July 2008 http://www.doe.gov/energyefficiency/
United States Green Building Council. 7 July 2008. U.S.G.B.C. 7 July 2008 http://www.usgbc.org/
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