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RachelleW posted a blog entry in Shades of an Apple Green HomeOne of the biggest costs for businesses is their utilities. It costs a lot of money to heat and cool large spaces, and businesses that run a lot of machinery or electronics use a lot of electricity. Also, many businesses are housed in older buildings that aren't very energy efficient. However, there are ways that businesses can cut their energy bills. Here are four ways commercial facilities can save energy by going green. Change Habits One of the easiest and most inexpensive ways commercial facilities can go green and save energy is by changing the habits of employees. For example, the company might do a building-wide push to have people turn off lights, computers and other electronic devices at the end of the day. This seems like a small change, but it can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year. Make Energy-Efficient Improvements Commercial spaces often are older and may not have energy-efficient features, so if you are willing to make the investment, you can make improvements to your commercial space that will help you go green and save money on energy. Some of the improvements you could make could include changing all the lighting to more energy-efficient types such as compact fluorescent light bulbs, replacing windows, and installing solar panels or a geothermal heating and cooling system. Keep up on Your Maintenance Taking care of the existing systems you have can help your commercial building operate more efficiently and make your business greener. Some companies, like Ragan Mechanical Inc., realize that if you have a boiler system for heating, it needs regular maintenance to operate at its best. The same goes for gas and electrical appliances, manufacturing machinery and any other appliances or machinery you have in your business that use energy. Cut Down on Paper and Packaging One of the ways businesses can go green is to change the way they interact with customers. Two of the most common ways to do this are to cut down on paper and packaging. Encourage your customers to receiving billing statements, receipts, invoices and other correspondence electronically to cut down on paper use. You also can look at overhauling your packaging to use less of it. Not only will these moves make your business greener by producing less waste, they also will save you money. Many businesses see "going green" as an added cost, but it doesn't necessarily have to be. Many energy-efficient improvements fulfill a legitimate business purpose and actually save you money.
Green, sustainable building is conquering the world of architecture. It’s no wonder - building homes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient is rewarding on many levels. By building homes that are “green” you’re minimizing impact on both people’s health and the natural environment. Image Credit: GJ Gardner What are the main characteristics of a green home? To begin with, it is a building that efficiently uses natural resources and alternative sources of energy. It is a home that preserves the health of its occupants and helps in reducing pollution, waste and environmental degradation. Let’s see what every green home must include in order to be a true, eco-friendly building. Materials used in green building Whenever we build, there has to be some sort of environmental cost. We often use natural materials and expendable energy resources uncontrollably. People think that using only wood, for example, will immediately make their house or lodge sustainable, but this is far from the truth. The first and the most important rule when it comes to materials is: always use sustainable, local materials that are recycled or recyclable. This often means reusing existing materials and reducing waste. Timber can be used in green building too, if it’s locally and sustainably sourced and FSC-certified. Also, the more processed the material is, the more energy was spent (embodied) to produce it. Therefore, green homes should be constructed from materials that have low embodied energy. Alternative forms of concrete are always a better option than conventional concrete, the production of which is responsible for high carbon emissions. Sometimes, even materials we consider “junk” can be used in the construction of a green home: tires, bottles, cans, materials left over from the pre-existing building, etc. Wood from fast growing trees (instead of hardwood), recycled stone, rammed earth, straw bale and mud brick are the traditional materials that most builders turn to nowadays. Clever design for an energy efficient home The design is another important factor in making a building “green”. Sustainable homes are smartly built – which means they are designed to last long, to fit the climate and use all the benefits their environment provides. Passive design almost always involves positioning homes in relation to the sun and shade to reduce the use of electricity. This can be done is several ways: by spatial zoning, orientation, ventilation, insulation, shading, glazing and using thermal mass. The house should be placed on a ground that receives a lot of sunlight in the winter, with large windows facing the sun and collecting “passive” solar power. Prevention of heat accumulation in the summer can be obtained by strategically placing trees, roof overhangs and horizontal slats. A well-designed floor plan can only help in achieving energy efficiency. Also, adding solar panels can save energy even more and make a building truly eco-friendly. Insulation Adding good insulation is a crucial thing in the building process - it is the most effective addition you can make to your home. Insulation, shading and waterproofing can save up to an amazing 45 percent on monthly energy bills.There are lots of insulation options. However, the top sustainable insulation materials are sheep wool, cotton, aerogel, polystyrene and icynene. We know that polystyrene doesn’t sound very “green”, but it’s an outstanding insulator that can be recycled. It brings structural integrity to walls and provides excellent thermal resistance. Wool fibers are perhaps the healthiest and most fire resistant insulation option. Water management A sustainable building must include water saving in addition to energy saving. An excellent way of saving water is rainwater harvesting – collection, filtration and use of rainwater. This reduces the need for main water supplies and can lead to significant economic and environmental benefits. Rainwater is collected in leak-proof tanks and can be used for many purposes. Image Credit: Wikimedia Swimming pools are big energy spenders and a real luxury in water scarce areas. Therefore, modern green homes feature increasingly popular natural pools and ponds. Water in such pools and ponds is cleaned with the help of plants and bacteria and no chemicals are used in the process. One of the steps in being a responsible water consumer includes using products and appliances that save water significantly. Your home must be equipped with adequate plumbing products, sanitary ware and white goods that use less water than others.