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The Challenges of Building a New Green Home vs. Upgrading an Old Home

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified Jul 11, 2012 01:01 AM
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by Glenn Meyers last modified Jul 10, 2012

The majority of older homes, stately or not, were not built with renewable heating or air conditioning in mind. And if solar roof panels are part of the grand plan, it will be a matter of pure luck if the roof structure is oriented to catch the best angle of the sun. The options for tools and equipment then jump in price, whether it be a crane, high-boy, or even complex scaffolding.




 

 

There’s plenty to find on the romantic side of the fence when it comes to renovating an old home, especially if it’s located in a mature neighborhood with grand gardens or trees and plenty of urban amenities nearby – easily accessible mass transit, dining and entertainment options. But there is little that’s appealing when trying to build a green retrofit for such an old stead. The majority of older homes, stately or not, were not built with renewable heating or air conditioning in mind. And if solar roof panels are part of the grand plan, it will be a matter of pure luck if the roof structure is oriented to catch the best angle of the sun. The options for tools and equipment then jump in price, whether it be a crane, high-boy, or even complex scaffolding.

This is where building new has a lot of appeal. If your goal is to build an innovative green structure, going new allows you to be the planner – with or without architect and engineer – from the onset. The work may at first appear easier and less costly, but be advised, there is a lot of tedium in the details, from site planning to design of all things green.

If you decide to go new, here is a very simple list with which to start a green ledger:

• Site planning (if you use solar, how do you orient the roof and the windows to sun and shade?
• If you choose to use geothermal, what are the regulations for drilling, where will the heat pump and remaining infrastructure go?
• How will you manage waste and water, and will you ever use grey water to meet your needs? Is your toilet going to feature an extremely green flush level, or will it compost?
• Will you compost or garden, and if so, where? Again remember sunlight and shade.
• What shall your surfaces be made of? Remember, sun is great for energy, but brutal for most surfaces, including plastic and paint.
• Where shall you shop for food, and where and how will you store things? Remember, freezers generally require a lot of electricity.
• Then there are the aesthetic details: where shall you entertain, write, meditate?
• Then there are all those other details: closet sizes, affordability, lighting, and where service access exists to work on things in need of repair or updating.

Whether new or old, theses are just some of the challenges and decisions a homeowner faces in designing green. While there may seem to be an abundance of never-ending detailed work that’s encompassed in the process, there’s much to enjoy when all is said and done. This article has been provided by Hitachi Mini Excavators.

Photo credit: iStock 



 

 

 
 
 

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