In the following articles I am going to assume that you have put together “your green team”. That means you must start with a group of real experts like a green consultant, a green Designer or Architect, a HERS rater, a good HVAC contractor, a mechanical engineer and you, with an open mind and a desire to learn.
Lot Design, Preparation and Development. It makes cense and it is easier to build a new home in a subdivision that was designed with green and sustainable design principles. For one, we can start by avoiding “environmentally sensitive areas”, like critical habitat, cultural and historical areas, aquatic corridors and wetlands. We could also leverage the natural resources of the site by bringing-out the positives and negatives characteristics of the land to develop opportunities and design strategies that allows maximizing the site and landscape design.
Other than natural sites or Greenfields, we can learn to use Infill, Greyfield and Brownfiled Redevelopment. Most of us are familiar with Infield Sites as construction occurring in established areas of the city that are served by existing infrastructure. Infill Sites refer to redevelopment of residential and commercial sites and usually enhances the built environment with multi-use properties, open space and parks.
Greyfields are old, obsolete and abandoned commercial and industrial sites that have moved out leaving behind millions of empty square footage and acres of gray pavement. These sites reduce property values and become eyesores, but they can become a very good investment and presents a good opportunity to reinvigorate the community.
In general terms, Brownfields are properties that have some environmental issues, yet are not classified as contaminated sites by the EPA. Usually they are under-used or abandoned commercial and industrial properties available for redevelopment. A developer must ensure all environmental constraints are met while meeting the goals of economic and sustainable development.
At the risk of sounding wako, for some folks, Green and Sustainable development is an oxymoron, as “development” seems to impose environmental degradation. But good developers use guidelines that encourage efficient land use and positive impact on the environment without sacrificing their economic benefits and well being of the community. Today, many of these guidelines promote Compact Developments, Transit-oriented Design, Solar-smart Strategies, Stormwater Management and Preservation of Natural Site Ecology.
The one strategy that can be achieved for no additional costs is Passive Solar Designs. These strategies can vary by location and climate, but the main rule is to maximize solar heat gain in the winter and minimize it in the summer. The most common strategies are:
- Locate the long axis of the house in an East-West orientation.
- Glass selection, orientation and size to optimize heat gain in the winter, reduce it in the summer and provide natural lighting.
- Installing roof overhangs and porches to increase shading.
- Using natural ventilation to reduce cooling needs.
Next article will be about Resource Efficiency, but if you want more information or details, please call or email Phil Crone at the Home Builders Association of Greater Dallas, or www.greenbuiltnorthtexas.com, or you can contact me, Armando Cobo, at 972-781-9248, or www.CoboDesigner.com.