What Makes a Green Home “Truly Green”?

You may be surprised by how many factors go into making a home green…


green home in westchester county new york Many factors impact the benefits you receive from building a green home. And, your home is just part of the equation. Building truly green homes require a comprehensive understanding of what makes a home green and how green it is.

However, you need not worry. BPC Green Builders will educate and guide you, making sure your home is as green as you want and also as green in the ways you desire. 

You don’t need to worry or become a green home building expert when working with BPC Green Builders.


Key Green Building Factors

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Every piece of property is unique, and it is important to site your green home so as to take advantage of the unique attributes of your lot and preserve its local ecology. Orienting your house with regard to the sun and prevalent wind patterns can make your house more pleasant and energy-efficient. The siting should also take shade and wind cover into consideration to protect you from summer heat and winter winds, respectively. If you are considering using solar energy, the placement of solar panels must also be taken into account.

In most cases, it is environmentally preferable to renovate (and expand, if necessary) an existing home rather than build a new one. However, if the home is in poor condition and/or the desired changes are massive, it may be more cost- and energy-efficient to start anew.

There are many aspects of how you design and engineer a green home that lead to how well it will perform, how green it will be and how much benefit will be provided to the homeowner. A green home also has to look great and serve the needs of the homeowners just like any home. There are many design and engineering approaches that are used for green homes such as overhangs, use of natural light, wall thickness to maximize insulating quality while reducing the amount of wood needed, use of engineered products, proper sizing and specification for heating, cooling, hot water, etc. components, heat exchangers, the use of alternative energy and energy-saving products and equipment and so on. Proper sealing, control of airflow and air quality within the home are important.
Proper insulation of your home, high efficiency doors and windows, the use of proper moisture and wind wraps, heat exchangers, insulated hot water pipes, the use of properly sized high efficiency HVAC and water heating equipment are all major components of green home building. So are the type of lighting, the use of natural light and heat sources. Smart home technology has come of age so that your home can be even that much more efficient.
There are sophisticated standards evolving to evaluate the environmental impacts of different building materials. These standards factor in energy used to produce the materials, pollution caused, impact on endangered plants, and waste generated. In general, the following guidelines and product selections should be followed:

  • Design the home to use less material while achieving better performance.
  • Recycled materials, when possible.
  • Products that require less energy to grow, extract, and manufacture.
  • Materials that are produced closer to home and therefore use less energy to bring to your home.
  • Engineered wood products over products made from old growth trees.
  • Materials that are durable.
  • Materials that don’t leach toxic chemicals into the soil.
  • Materials that, when a home is eventually demolished, will not add toxic materials to the landfill.
  • Materials that require minimal maintenance and use of chemical finishes and/or cleaning products.
To get the most benefit from green materials and products, your green home has to be constructed properly and carefully by crafts and tradesmen who know how to construct or renovate a green home for maximum benefit. Not all construction workers have the knowledge or skill to build like this or meet the special standards needed.
Using clean, renewable and sustainable sources of energy can offer substantial benefits. This energy can be purchased from the grid or created using design and technology right at your own home.

Solar Energy

With green homes, solar energy can be harnessed many ways to save you money and minimize the carbon-based energy required to operate a home and its systems. One simple way is to locate the house with the largest glass area facing south. This captures the sun’s heat in the winter.

Photovoltaic panels, which are cheaper and more efficient than ever before, can also be used to generate electricity for use in the home and to feed surplus power back into the grid, for which power companies pay or credit you.

Finally, solar hot water panels produce hot water for domestic use, as well as to help heat the home.


Geothermal heating/cooling systems are becoming more popular with green home owners. These systems extract heat from the ground to heat the home in the winter and dump heat into the ground in the summer. This is a highly efficient system with low operating costs.


Wind energy is by far the largest source of sustainable energy in the US. In our area, using wind energy can sometimes be generated on site or purchased from the power company. To be effective, a wind turbine must be located in an area with relatively high and constant winds. Also, many towns have zoning restrictions that prevent the installation of a turbine at the necessary height, which is usually over 30 ft. in the air. If you have the right property, wind power can work for you.

Most people in the western part of the US didn’t worry as much about water conservation until it they started having major drought problems. Now they will have to retrofit homes with water conservation systems which can be extra expensive unless you are renovating a whole home or building a new one.

Low-flow plumbing fixtures represent a great starting point for water conservation, but there are many other options. For example, your home could include a gray water system, which recaptures water from all uses (other than toilets) for re-use in an irrigation system. Other options include collecting and storing rain water for uses such as bathing and washing clothes and using modern hygienic composting toilets, which eliminate the need for fresh water to process human waste.

Other Green Home Considerations

Some aspects of making your green home are not as obvious as others. Here are some of the other factors that can contribute to making your home even greener.

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A basic and important consideration for building a green home is its size. Larger homes require more energy to heat and cool. They also require more energy and material to build and maintain.

However, your lifestyle and what you need from a home may require a larger rather than a smaller home. When BPC builds a green home of any size we can improve its energy efficiency in many ways but size is a factor that you should consider.

We can help you determine the optimum size for your new green home that takes into consideration your lifestyle, needs and green building benefits. You may find that your home can work very well for you with some areas smaller than you think may be needed.

If you don’t already have a parcel of land to build on, these are some things you may want to consider. A home that is located on a smaller parcel near the center of town will have less environmental impact than one on a larger lot away from town.

Proximity to work, services, and schools reduces the energy used and pollution generated for everyday traveling. Smaller lots reduce the amount of energy needed to maintain the property, including pollution caused by lawn mowers and snow blowers, as well as the use of water, fertilizers and pesticides to maintain a large lawn.

If you want a green home that is “off or almost off the grid” in terms of energy independence, the property has to be large enough, the zoning right and other conditions right for including wind or a larger solar array.

For homes built green that generate surplus clean energy such as by solar photovoltaic panels or wind power, where power companies are required to buy the surplus energy, return on investment for the construction of your green home is accelerated.
For many reasons, the lifetime cost of owning and living in a green home is less. Owners save money on power, have lower maintenance costs, can have lower water bills, the homes will be more competitive when sold and buyers want greener homes in the future. Some construction approaches in green building actually lower the costs of construction. However, green homes usually cost the same or a bit more than a conventional home to build.
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