Many of the energy-efficient qualities of a green home are easy to spot. They include appliances, windows, and water heating systems that have ENERGY STAR® ratings. Efficient lighting fixtures and bulbs are also common. Renewable energy sources, such as photovoltaic electricity and water heating systems can also further decrease the overall energy consumption within the home.
Fixtures and appliances such as low-flow showerheads, faucets, and toilets, ENERGY STAR dishwashers and washing machines all conserve water. Additional water savings can also be realized through programmed, low-volume irrigation systems, rainwater collection systems, wastewater treatment systems, and hot water recirculation systems.
During the home design and lot development process many of these key resource efficiency decisions are made. They include home size, home orientation on the lot and floor plan layout. The house orientation and design should take advantage of natural daylight to reduce lighting needs, and should use strategies to reduce heat gain in the summer and heat loss in the winter. The home should contain renewable materials, including rapidly-renewable wood species such as bamboo, and recycled-content materials in carpets, tiles, and concrete formulations.
Indoor Air Quality Features
The heating, air conditioning and ventilation system (HVAC) must be appropriately sized for an efficient and properly ventilated home. Fans in the kitchen and bathrooms should cycle fresh air inside, and release stale air. Low-VOC paints, finishes and wallpaper should also be used.
Outside the Home
In a green home, care must be taken to preserve trees and other vegetation native to the area. Landscaping should contain plants that are appropriate for the climate, and grouped according to water needs. Driveways and other impervious surfaces should be reduced as much as possible, and may be composed of gravel, permeable block pavers, grids, or other permeable systems.