Green Homes

When you have the opportunity to build a custom home in the Southwest where you may expect 300+ sunny days, there is no excuse for not making it green–so we did. We wanted low water usage, low heating/cooling energy use and minimal power use otherwise. So here is what we included:

  • Passive solar design–large glazing along a wide south-facing front
  • Concrete floors for thermal mass (also saves on costlier low VOC floor coverings)
  • Reflective metal roof to avoid attic heat gain
  • Seven-inch foam (soy-based to avoid unwanted toxic off-gassing) in the walls and under the roof framing (open attic above ceiling)
  • Air exchanger
  • NO AC–not even an evaporative cooler (outdoor high temp 95 degrees last 12 months; indoor max 85)
  • Casement windows–some with left open and some right for maximum ventilation
  • High efficiency DC motor ceiling fans (very rarely used)
  • High efficiency appliances
  • CFL and LED lighting–no incandescents
  • Solar light tubes in windowless rooms
  • Openable skylight in kitchen
  • Low and dual flush commodes
  • Honeycomb blinds
  • Active solar–grid-tied for cogeneration credit from the utility company (for 12 years and net-metering after that)
  • Baseboard heating only (generally required only 1-3 hours per day in selected areas) Lowest outdoor temperature about 20 degrees last 12 months; lowest indoor temp about 64 (before baseboard heating)
  • Solar powered-well pump
  • Future rainwater harvesting planned (gutters and piping in; only need another storage tank and pump)

Federal and state incentives for solar still apply for renewable energy–grab them while you still can!