Green homes bring together several different practices that attempt to eliminate the impact of buildings on the environment.
Building materials considered to be green include bamboo, straw, lumber from forests certified to be sustainable, stone, recycled metal and other nontoxic or recyclable materials. The building materials should be extracted and manufactured locally so as to minimize the energy used in their transportation.
Insulation should be made from low volatile organic compound-emitting materials, such as recycled denim. These alternative insulation types should be treated with boric acid to keep insects at bay. Salvage and reclaimed materials should be used when appropriate. This includes older doors, mantels, hardware and windows. Commonly used woods are bamboo or cork oak and materials should be gleaned from the site itself.
To minimize the energy loads within the structure, it is important to arrange it so that the home takes advantage of cooling breezes and sunlight. Using ample windows will eliminate the need to use electric lighting during the day and passive solar energy can warm the building. Prevailing winds should be available to keep the home from overheating. The heat stores gained during the day should be available to heat the home at night, minimizing swings in temperature.
Windows and doors should be well insulated. Optimizing the heating and cooling systems by using energy efficient machinery is also important. Some of these cost a great deal up front but overall minimize the heating and cooling costs. Onsite renewable energy through solar power, wind power, hydropower or biomass can be helpful in minimizing energy costs in a green home.