Too many times it seems there is a mystery about green homes. There really isn’t. The basic principles of green homes are just good old common sense. It does seem that sometimes common sense is not so common. One of the basic premises of green design is lot and site or rather how the home sits on the land and interacts with it. Homes, even temporary ones, have some impact and interrelationship with the land they sit on.
When working on a green home certification with the National Green Building Standard, we go through six areas of practices and selections to arrive at a holistic, complete green certifiable home. Today’s episode is dedicated to “lot and site” or where the house is and how it interacts and impacts the land it resides on.
Knowing basics about your home and its relationship with the land is helpful for both new and existing homes. For example, knowing the orientation of your home or which direction the home faces can have many impacts and affect choices. Landscaping can be used for energy efficiency as well as enjoyment, and plantings around a house help insulate and provide some sound absorption.
When you pick where your home lives, think about the community – is it walkable or bicycle-friendly? What resources are available nearby? Being a part of a walkable area promotes a vibrant community, local commerce and healthier lifestyles. Increasingly, suburbs may offer these resources, such as the planned community Marla lives in that has many resources within walking distance, bicycling and hiking trails and more. Matter of fact, many communities, including the St. Louis metro, are connecting their trails to promote bicycling for recreation, health and alternative transportation.
Your home needs to live somewhere just like we do.
When building or remodeling your home, typically the project team helps figure out how the house and land interact. It is important to have team members who understand building codes (even if you are remodeling on your own, you may be impacted, especially when you go to sell).
Some parts of the project, like electrical and plumbing, are good places to get professional help.
A green professional adds to the project team and can ensure that green, sustainable and energy-efficient components are integrated into the project.
For many developments, we still see clearcutting trees to install the infrastructure – sewer, water, storm water runoff, utilizes. While other options are available this is still the most common way the conveniences of a modern home get to the home.
If the home is being built where there is already an existing house, deconstruct and donate usable home components. Habitat for Humanity does this in many communities and sells what they can take from the deconstruction in their ReStore to raise money for the homes they help build.
Storm water management on a home’s lot is a big consideration in many communities, including St. Louis where our aging infrastructure is a factor. Better management of watershed areas (creeks and rivers) are helping keep storm water on properties to infiltrate rather than running off, which also can cause flooding, as seen often across the nation and in the St. Louis metro over the last few years. Help out with a rain garden or rain barrel.
And then there is lawn. Lawn is such an oxymoron. We spend time, money, water, chemicals and energy to encourage plants to grow so we can mow them down. Many homeowners/residents are choosing to have more garden space, including edible gardens and native plants, and less lawn. Native plants are such a big deal because they don’t need all of the chemicals to prosper and they do well with the water patterns of the region.
Or go native with a wildlife garden. The Missouri Botanical Garden is a wonderful resource for many things plant and garden related. Or search online for native plants and landscaping to find what works in your area. If you can’t go native, go regionally appropriate. Add colorful flowers to bring in the birds and butterflies or go so far as a butterfly and/or bird garden.
If you are looking to do something innovative – go up! Install a green roof with plants on the roof or a white roof to reflect heat. Just using less concrete or using light colored concrete helps reduce the heat. And just using light colored roof shingles helps reflect heat. Common sense approach with choices in your home.
Don’t stress about what you can’t do, yet do what you can. All of the pieces combine to bring about a solid end product.
Check out the resources to find a way to get started, or do your next project, with your own home.
Resources about Where a Home Lives on today’s podcast
Metropolitan Sewer District (STL) Project Clear
For more information about green homes and green living, check out www.GreenHomeCoach.com.
Every week on iTunes and The Green Gab Podcast, get the gab with us as we share what we’ve done, as well as tips for greening up your home, your job, your family and your life! Get in on the gab for why green matters – to you, your family and friends and your community.
I’d love to speak at your next event – for ideas check out my speaking information. Thank you and have a blessed day.
Get in on the gab for why green matters – to you, your family and friends and your community.