LEED is generally attributed with starting the green building movement in North America.
It stands for "Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design" and it is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices.
Although more commonly seen in commercial buildings, LEED is gaining traction for residential projects. Aside from direction on how to focus a wholistic strategy on building a green home, LEED can add value to your home by increasing its marketability for resale down the road.
The downside of LEED is that it requires documentation to prove that it is built to a certain statndard and this adds costs to the projects that are not included as a tangible asset.
LEED doesn't just address the energy performance of your home - but also measures other metrics such as how your green home is built (local products), the water and energy efficiency of your home, and the indoor air quality to name a few.
To learn more about LEED homes - please click on the Canadian Green Building Council link below.
Net-zero homes are not common yet, but are gaining popularity - especially in Edmonton, AB. where there is the most amount of net-zero homes in Canada.
A net-zero home consumes as much energy annualy as it produces
on an anual basis. This isn't to say that at some points in time, the home will not draw energy from the grid - just that averaged over time you take as much energy as you produce.
The downside of building a net-zero home is that it will cost more money in the short term, and the pay back for this up front investment will not come overnight.
The upside of building a net-zero home is that you insulate yourself from the rising costs of energy and make a big statemet to your neighbourhood and community at large, on what is possible and how you want to commit your hard earned dollars towards a sustainable world.
An interesting note for those that are keen on building a net-zero house though don't have the enough capital to invest into their dream home - is that you can build your home 85% towards net-zero with only a 10% increase in construction costs. This is an attractive option in that down the road when you have some more money to invest into your almost-net-zero home, you can spend the money on a renewable energy installation such as solar panels to take your home the last 15% to net zero energy consumption.
If you are eager to read more about Net Zero homes, you can click on the National Ressources Canada link below.
A passive house design is essentially a home that is passively heated and cooled. Though this concept isn't new - the Anasazi First Nation are said to have been the first to have used a passive solar design in their homes; they lived in cliff dwellings that captured the sun for warmth when needed and blocked the beaming sun when it wasn't. The modern passive house design is one which intentionally keeps an exceptionally tight building envelope with a high degree of insulation, keeping the climate inside the house very predictable and steady; this puts more onus on building a high performing building envelope and in turn simplifies the design of the mechanical system.
In many ways, an earthsthip is a type of passive house although they are radically different. A passive house will mostly look like a regular residential home - whereas an earthship will certainly stand out as a unique home.
The increase cost in quality building envelope construction is mostly offset by less costs in mechanical system; building a home to passive house standard results in savings in energy bills, which over time add up and prove to be quite economical.
The Canadian Passive House Institute offers more detail on the fundamentals associated with this design and can be found by clicking on the link below.
Don't be fooled by the name, an earthsthip is hardly a ship at all. It is a green home that was designed by an architect by the name of Michael Reynolds from the United States.
The biggest thing that seperates an earthsthip from a regular green building is that the majority of the wall structure is built using recyled tires filled with rammed earth. Earthships are popular with people who want to live offgrid - though on-grid installations are equally viable.
The design of the earthship is made so that it minimizes reliance on external energy and water input from regular domestic sources (hence why it is a popular off-grid home).
The cost to build an eartsthip is comparable to the cost of building a typical home in your community. The added bonus of building an earthsthip is that you will sustantially insulate yourself from any external factors of energy or water while also offering a niche market for resale if you chose to sell your home at a later date.
Earthships can be an exciting topic to learn more about, if you are keen on doing some more self study on earthsthips - please feel free to click on the link below to visit the original designers website.
The old mentality for residential housing was to build them so that they were breathable. This was done so that there was a healthy air quality inside the house and as well to ensure that the walls of the house had adequate means to rid themselves of accumulated moisture. Although this design served the purpose for the time, it doesn't work in our modern economy because energy is no longer cheap and the environment is feeling the stress of this type of excessive energy use.
Residential homes these days are built to a much higher standard than they were before. There are also emerging building approaches that are gaining momentum with the average consumer that have a very green approach to them.
A green building is essentially one that is well insulated, airtight with controlled ventilation. Orientation of the house must be taken into consideration to ensure solar gains are maximized in the winter and minimized in the summer. Add some energy efficiency and renewable energy - you have yourself the makings of a green home.
New construction for a green home or a green renovation of an existing home, are some of the best economical and environmental investments you can make when it comes to going green. The sections below briefly illustrate some of the branches of green homes and can help give you a sense on what a right fit is for you and your family.