Tips on keeping things green

By Allen Bunting
January 31, 2008
Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn; styling by Susan Stiles Dowell

Whether building a new home or renovating an existing one, here are some ways for you to make a difference.

Build for your region. Learn about your environment when designing and planning a green home. For example, light-color exteriors reflect heat from the sun, benefiting homes in warmer regions. Alternately, darker exteriors absorb heat for warmth in cold climates.

Build to suit your site. Instead of clear-cutting a lot, use existing trees for passive solar heating and cooling. You can also position your house so that low-angled rays from the winter sun will flood south-facing rooms, reducing dependence on expensive sources of energy.

Choose materials wisely. Conservationist attitudes and economic efficiency guide green construction. Build with sustainable woods and recycled, reusable, and durable materials.

Minimize waste. Take advantage of local salvage companies to remove reusable construction waste, and ask your contractor about recycling options.

Go for the savings. Superior insulation and energy-efficient appliances will significantly cut energy costs throughout the life of your home.

Conserve resources. Use drought-resistant plants and adequate drainage systems outdoors, and efficient pipe systems and sink and faucet aerators indoors.

Stay healthy. The air quality inside green homes is often far superior to that of conventional homes. Low- or no-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints and nontoxic insulation and flooring, for example, can cause fewer allergies, asthma problems, and skin sensitivities.

Want to learn more about green homes? Check out these Web sites: National Association of Home Builders,; U.S. Green Building Council,; Greener Buildings,; and Northwest EcoBuilding Guild, Not sure if you can recycle something? Call 800/732-9253. For a Reusable Building Materials Exchange, check out the 2Good2Toss project at