Modular Homes Lead Industry Green Building Efforts

Modular homes and custom modular homebuilders are quickly reinventing the homebuilding industry. Because of the focus on energy efficiency, architectural and

design communities worldwide are coming together to create innovative designs for homes of all shapes, sizes and tastes. Not only are modular homes providing

affordable housing solutions because they are constructed more quickly and at a lower cost than traditional site built homes, modular home builders are also

leading the way in sustainable new home construction and environmental preservation through green building.

Modular homes are constructed in pieces in controlled factory environments. Factory production means fewer accidents and mistakes and a more predictable product and time frame. The pieces are then shipped to the site where they are assembled. Because the pieces need to be shipped, they are built much stronger than traditional site built home structures and components, using ten to fifteen percent more construction materials than are normally used. Modular homes also offer a much higher quality control standard, with so many third-party inspectors, engineers and architects involved.

Since modular home builders provide 80 to 85 percent of the home, the buyer avoids the risk of giving money to a builder and not having the home built to their specifications, or of having their price inflated by numerous change orders. Additionally, unlike modular homes, site-built homes are exposed to unfavorable weather conditions during the construction process, making the home vulnerable to water or weather damage, and increasing the costs of the project by adding additional materials and replacement components. All of these cost savings are passed on to the consumer, giving them more home for their money, but also giving builders more leeway to incorporate energy saving building best practices and products and services into their construction processes.

For builders, most green building benefits come from then flexibility inherent in the design and engineering of modular home systems. Modular homes are built stronger that traditional homes. They produce less waste because of reduced construction time, and less time needed on a site means less damage to the home site and surrounding environment. In addition, the design flexibility and innovation combined with the use of non-traditional building materials enable homebuilders and designers to build around existing trees and wildlife, creating new homes that are less intrusive to their environments.

Modular, or systems built, components are pre-treated before they are shipped to the site. This pretreatment reduces the amount of chemical vapors that enter the home upon construction, resulting in better air quality from the beginning. In addition, the internal structure of the home is protected from mold or water damage by the tightly controlled environments within the factories. Because construction can be completed in a fraction of the time necessary for traditional homes, there is less site waste, less threat of internal air quality deterioration and reduced chance of structure damage.

Wood for home components is delivered to factories at pre-cut lengths to further reduce waste, and many modular homes factories and materials suppliers employ extensive recycling programs to reduce excess or return materials to the environment. Additionally, many builders take site selection into account to maximize natural lighting, heating and cooling capabilities, as well as other water efficiency, day lighting, ecopower, improved erosion control and environmentally friendly building materials considerations. Other green building practices include increasing slab insulation, using solvent-free foundation sealants, increasing fly-ash content in concrete, improving foundation drainage, providing ventilation for radon and other tactics.

The speed of construction reduces the cost of modular homes, making them an ideal solution both to current affordable housing needs worldwide and also to homeowners seeking relief from recent hikes in utility costs. The reduced construction loan costs and interest amounts combined with lower pricing per square foot as compared to traditional site built homes enables home buyers and builders to focus their home construction dollars on energy efficient water and power systems. These can be as simple as energy efficient water heaters and appliances, or as complex as solar panels or gray water systems.

Many modular homes today are being constructed in such a way as to maximize daylight and reduce or, in some cases, completely eliminate the need for electrical lighting during the day. For example, the Venice, California MCube, designed by Mdesigns, utilizes a Japanese shoji inspired construction with translucent light emitting walls that let in natural light without heat radiation. The house also boasts solar radiant-heated floors, solar heated water and photovoltaic roof panels. This is just one example of the innovative designs emerging from architects and engineers worldwide. Pictures of the house are available at inhabitat.com.

Custom modular homebuilders, such as Grant Smereczynsky, CEO of Building Systems Network, a custom modular homebuilder based in Atlanta, GA, are encouraging consumers who are not yet familiar with the options available in modular homes to educate themselves about the benefits of these advancements in engineering, architectural design and systems-based construction.

Basic Tips For Going Green in Your Home

Did you know that homes are now built so precisely that there is no fresh air entering into or leaving our homes? The air inside our homes is more polluted than the air outside and can be a breeding ground for illness and allergies. Everything from our furniture, paint, household cleaners, flooring choices, and décor has built-in toxins and chemicals that are emitted into our breathing air every day. These toxins, also known as VOC’s or volatile organic compounds, have been connected to higher risks for heart attack, asthma, allergies, skin rashes, cancer, and reproductive disorders.

Now for the good news! You can actively take steps to go green in your home and create a safe breathing environment for yourself and your family. Here are some ways to be proactive and go green in your home.

The trend these days for homeowners is to renovate or rejuvenate their existing home, rather than simply purchasing a new home. As a result, many new products and paints are used to bring new life to older homes. If you’re not careful in choosing eco-friendly products for your renovations, you’re likely introducing more harmful chemicals into your breathing air. Did you know that new carpet will off-gas toxins for nearly 20 years? Suddenly, that “new carpet smell” isn’t so great, is it?

Going Green Tips

1) Choose an eco-friendly paint – paint manufacturers are responding to the need for cleaner air inside our living and working environments, so there are quality choices available on the market today. An eco-friendly paint is created using recycled paint or vegetable dyes and minerals.

2) Opt for eco-friendly flooring – natural fibers are attractive in any home décor, so opt for floor coverings like cork, bamboo, or linoleum. These “green” materials are attractive and inexpensive.

3) Purchase green furniture – furniture constructed from certified sustainable wood or reclaimed wood. Bamboo furniture is also a great choice and can be incorporated into many styles of décor. Do you love the look of vintage furniture? Using furniture that has been around the block a few times is another great way to go green when choosing “new-to-you” furniture pieces.

4) Invest in a natural air purifier – no chemicals are needed to clean the air in your home. Instead, invest in a quality air purifier for your home. Green household plants absorb polluted air, so include these in your decorating plan. Burn beeswax candles instead of chemically created candles. Beeswax candles emit negative ions, which are beneficial for you. Another natural air ionizer is a salt crystal lamp.

5) Look for natural fibers – shower curtains, window treatments, throw pillows, bed pillows, etc, should all be manufactured from natural fibers. Look for products that are manufactured using natural unbleached cotton, organic wool, organic hemp, or shredded rubber latex. Products to stay away from include those made from plastic, foam, or synthetic materials.

Going green in your home does not mean you have to sacrifice quality or beauty. Manufacturers of home décor, furniture, and renovating materials recognize that savvy consumers want eco-friendly choices and they’re providing choices that are beautiful and budget-friendly.

It’s easy to go green in your home, so get started today. You’ll be breathing cleaner air that much quicker!

Focus on Green Homes – Landscaping to Save Energy

Landscaping a home in green manner is an important part of planning and building your green home. Landscaping consumes a lot of water and maintaining your yard can produce a large amount of carbon monoxide. Green landscaping means selecting plants that reduce the amount of water used to keep them alive.

For the lawn, plant grass that grows very slowly and requires very little water to survive. By planting this type of grass, your lawn would not need to be mowed every week, but maybe only a few times a summer, reducing the amount of exhaust from your mowing activities. Also since water bills are usually calculated by consumption, the less water the yard requires, the lower the water bill.

For the plants and bushes around the home, select hardy plants. Hardy plants are less susceptible to diseases and damaging pests, allowing you to forego or eliminate pesticides and fertilizers. The less of these chemicals that are used the better it is for the environment, reducing the amount of chemicals that run-off of plants during a rainstorm and soak into the ground. This type of run-off of pesticides and fertilizers has the potential to contaminate ground water and drinking water.

Another major consideration with green landscaping is the heat island effect. The heat island effect is heat from the home, from man-made surfaces around the home, and from the lack of appropriate landscaping. The combined heat from these sources can increase the temperature in a community noticeably. Heat islands can cause increased use of air conditioning, increased air pollution and greenhouse gas production, and lower water quality.

For your green home, this effect can make your heating and cooling systems less effective. The right types of landscaping can help prevent the heat island effect. For example, planting our hardy trees, shrubs and plants at least 24 inches away from the house can break up the heat transfer mechanism. In addition, planting deciduous trees on the west side of your green home or along driveways and walkways can be very effective for cooling the house and yard. Plan ahead, though. Trees and bushes growth over time can interfere with the effectiveness of any solar panels that are installed.

When planning your landscaping, plan to install a rain barrel as well. Why not store some of the run-off rainwater for eco-friendly, free water for watering the lawn, plants, scrubs, and trees? In addition to a rain barrel, the ground can be shaped to direct water coming from the roof and the ground during a rainstorm to collect around the plants, shrubs, and trees in the yard. This allows the earth to do your work for you. As the water from the storm drains into the ground, the last part of the ground to dry out is the part of the lawn that received the most water, reducing the amount of tap water needed.

By taking the extra time to address these issues during the design of your green home, you can achieve a beautiful, very low maintenance and environmental-friendly landscaped yard.

Green Homes – Ugly Ducklings Or Beautiful Swans?

A “green” home is a home that is highly energy efficient, has excellent indoor environment, and is built to exceed local building codes. So are they ugly then? Look like the Jetson’s space-age house? So obvious they would stick out like a sore thumb? No. No. and No. A green home looks just like conventional construction inside and out.

The beginning of a green home is a set of plans that starts with a conventional floor plan and elevations. Then an experienced green home building will modify the systems of the house to accommodate green home features and energy saving devises – A geothermal system rather than air conditioning; in-floor heating rather than a conventional natural gas forced air system; a grey water recapture system; energy efficient windows, doors, appliances, and water heater; and high quality, high ‘R’rated insulation.

The best part is that these systems work very different from their conventional counterparts, but are invisible to the homeowner and their guests. The home will be quieter and cleaner without the dust and noise of conventional forced air heating. And the energy cost savings are substantial, depending on your particular situation.

Energy Star appliances sip electricity but are similar or identical to your current appliances. And cabinets and trim can be identical to conventional houses or use recycled material or earth-friendly woods for a more eco-friendly alternatives.

The cladding and shingles on the outside of the home are no different than a conventional home making the home blend in to its neighborhood seamlessly. However, the market value is probably higher than the surrounding homes due to its energy saving advantages and tax incentives.

So a green home is a beautiful swan, not an ugly duckling, at all!

Some Tips In Building A Green Home

If you are thinking of joining the advocacy of going green, what better way to do it than to start building a green home. You will need to follow certain environmental practices in building a green home – such as those that help lessen (negative) effects on the environment.

First thing you need to consider is building materials. Building a environment friendly home would require materials that are eco-friendly and compliant with the current standards in constructing green homes. You may browse the internet for details regarding the compliances and product info to help you where to get and how to use them. If you have a contractor in mind, make sure that the company offers services specifically for building a green home.

It is imperative to prioritize sustainable materials such as those that can be recycled or natural materials that can be replenished due to their growth rate. Hardwood from large old trees should not be cut down and used, since they take years to grow and the earth beneath will also be affected when they are taken out. Using alternative wood such as bamboo is better since this specie can grow rapidly.

Lightweight concrete is a type of concrete that has been used in building a healthy home for years. However, this type of concrete is not as strong, but it can perform as well as traditional concrete and can hold up to any weather condition. It is often used as home insulation and it’s also capable of retarding fire.

Prefabricated panels for homes are also available and they can be ordered and purchased at reasonable amounts. Generally, they are similarly priced to regular building materials that are used for a typical home. And they must also get approval from organizations that monitor environmental compliances.

In order to have less impact on the environment, building green homes employ appropriate architectural design. Typical green homes are smaller than regular homes like those that are found in rural areas and large counties. Styles may vary from contemporary, bungalow, Victorian, ranch style and many others.

The important thing about building a green home is that it will help lessen the negative effects on the environment in general. There are many factors that you need to consider such as energy and water consumptions, recycling and using eco-friendly materials. Generally, once you have these factors implemented on your green home, you’ll be able to help reduce harmful impacts on the environment and on the earth.