Building Green Homes

Green homes can use recycled steel for their beams, and also for a reflective metal rooftop that is lightweight and durable. Green homes can use bales of straw for the walls, a building material that is perfectly natural, abundant and cheap.

Straw House with Metal Roof
House with straw bale walls and a metal roof

Green homes can rest on a single finished concrete slab, efficently combining floor and foundation into one pour. The slab can be interlaced with tubes that channel solar heated water into the slab, warming it in winter.

In addition to providing solar-heated hot water and photovoltaic electricity, the entire roof can collect water from rain, filtering the runoff and storing it in cisterns.

There is an excellent television show called Building Green ( where the host introduces green building contractors and architects whose structures are as green as they come. A recent report on Building Green showed an entire roof covered in turf, with plants growing. What a fantastic way to filter rain, improve indoor energy efficiency, clean the air, and mitigate the urban heat island effect!

A goal of green buildings is to create a zero-impact building. A structure that has no net energy or water consumption, uses no toxic materials, and has no heat signature. According to statistics provided by the U.S. green building council (, if the United States had 100% zero-impact buildings, they would save 40% of all national energy use, and 12% of all water use. Put another way, for every 10% gain in green building efficiency, the U.S. reduces energy consumption – from all sources – by 4%.

What is most interesting is perhaps the only remaining constraint on more green homes is the environmentalists themselves, whose activists have choked off suburban sprawl – translation: “affordable homes for you and me” – development on open land. Maybe now that the green home has arrived, environmentalists will step aside, and accept massive developments of low density green homes.

5 Responses to “Building Green Homes”
  1. We are interested in the subject. Please revert back with details of process where we can update viewers at home(India) through website

  2. Loved the fact that you’re sharing info. about green building. But putting any blame on environmentalist..I quote.. “whose activists have choked off suburban sprawl -translation: ”affordable homes for you and me” – development on open short sited at best.

    As more and more natural habitat is replaced with buildings, our life giving support system becomesemore compromised. Pavement and tiled or even metal roofs do not give oxygen to this planet..24/7 without any help from humans. Our natural habitat does.

    It has been our unintended consequences of creating buildings that are not taking adavantage of naturally occuring, free and environmentaly friendly principles like passive solar heating and daylighting that has gotten us to the place we are today – Millions upon millions of buildings that can’t even be tolerable to inhabit without pumping them full of heat and air-conditioning.

    Have we all forgotten that humans have lived and refined their dwellings..without electrical appliances ..for thousands of years. A.C. being threatened because of our short-sited behaviors. Let’s learn from our past and not keep repeating irreversable choices with devastating results that our children and their children will inherit.

    Presently in the U.S. there are over 10 million vacant homes. Do we really need more urban sprawl? Or could we make better choices and redo what we’ve already built? Thank you for reading, Chris Prelitz

  3. Ed Ring says:

    We aren’t trying to dismiss the benefits of environmentalist activism – we are environmentalists, too. But the consequences of environmentalist influenced policies also have to be assessed. If people lived in green homes then it is fair to ask why development restrictions can’t be relaxed somewhat. There is nothing inherently toxic or environmentally destructive about a green home – or to the extent there still is, that detriment must be weighed against the benefit of having affordable homes again, and having more homes available with lots that are bigger than a postage stamp. Modern suburban developments are often on lots only 4,000 square feet in area. Look at these developments from the air – they are giant heat islands – no trees, and their open space is only in the form of parks and “commons” that are maintained at huge taxpayer expense. It seems like some model should be found for low density suburban development – there are thousands of square miles of foothills and land within a few miles of major freeways where this sort of development should be considered. Cordoning off our cities and forcing everyone into ultra high density “in-fill” is destroying the quality of life in existing cities and suburbs. Why don’t we protect open space within our existing cities?

  4. Ed, we presently have close to 18 million vacant homes in the U.S.
    Any new construction – no matter how green- is much more environmentally damaging than retrofitting an existing building to be energy efficient and healthy. I just did a green flip out in So. Calif. It sold in 13 days in a horrible market for just $5,000 under asking price. $790k) It was the frst episode of a new discovery home show “Greenovate” aired Jan. 1…hopefully again.
    And, as I tell my fiends…The best lots to build on went first. Many of the choice south facing lots were snatched up in the 20′s ,30′s and 40′s. Many times you’re better off picking up an older home on a big lot in a great part of town where you can walk to amenities. Check out the “End of Suburbia” for a real eye-opener about the future of new suburbs.

  5. Ed Ring says:

    Chris: No doubt there are vacant homes – and there are also homes where two or three families are living in one home because that is the only way they can afford the payments/rents. In any case I totally agree that older homes on larger lots are great places to live – IF you can be certain you don’t end up a year later with a brand new federally subsidized, state mandated cluster home development suddenly going in, with 14 units to replace the single home on the large lot next to you – in the sacred name of “infill” and “smart growth.” These policies are destroying older neighborhoods.

    I would be very interested in learning your source for the 18 million vacant homes. I didn’t realize there are that many.


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