Saturday, January 28, 2012

Green Building Myths

We’ve all heard the arguments over sustainable building and renewable energy. Let’s take a look at three of them.

Sustainable building is too expensive.
There is nothing inherently expensive about sustainable building. At its simplest, sustainable building uses common sense design principles such as considering the sun and prevailing winds when deciding where to build or using design principles that provide shading or natural ventilation.

Green houses look funny.
Some of them do, but most green houses look like every other house on the block. If you want to build a dome or an underground house, go right ahead. However, many of green building concepts being “discovered” today have actually been around for a long time. Deep wrap around porches, dog trot style homes, and two story houses with windows at the top of the stairway are timeless designs in the south that embody “modern principles” such as shading, natural ventilation, and “chimney effects.” Northern homes have used enclosed entries for years. The “airlock” concept is nothing new. The only difference between many green homes and other homes is size of the utility bill!

Solar power, wind power, and rainwater collection is too expensive.
Yes. Those things do cost money. However, green building is not about finding ways for people to become miniature utility companies. In fact, before you even consider producing electricity or harvesting rainwater, you should figure out how to avoid wasting the electricity and water you already use. With that said, alternative power sources are becoming less expensive, and electricity from coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear sources is becoming more expensive. Rain has been a water source for hundreds of years, and in some places as aquifers are pumped down, rain is more reliable than a well.

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