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How Advanced Infrastructure Will Affect the Environment

Bobbi Peterson's picture
Editor Living Life Green

Bobbi is a contributor to many environmental publications and the editor of  Living Life Green, a blog dedicated to sustainability, education, and helping people achieve a more...

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  • Dec 23, 2017

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Consumers are showing more interest in constructing green homes due to the potential cost savings on utilities over time. The percentage of green homes built in the United States alone increased from 2 percent in 2005 to 23 percent in 2013, and is expected to grow to nearly 40 percent in 2018. Eco-friendly homes also generate a lower carbon footprint, compared to traditionally constructed models. Here’s how environmentally conscious dwellings are saving the planet.

Use Recycled Materials

Developers often use new materials when constructing homes, rather than recycling materials from older construction. Eco-friendly homes tend to use materials that are easy to recycle, such as stone and wood. Brick, tile, cabinetry and other elements that are no longer suitable may also be salvaged and repurposed from houses and buildings.

Recycling building materials prevents landfills from filling up too quickly. Over time, the liners in landfills may become compromised as the ground and material settle. Cracks and other fissures enable toxic leachate to come in contact with aquifers and the surrounding soil, which can cause groundwater contamination.

Reusing old materials also reduces the number of new items needed for construction and, in turn, saves natural resources for future generations. Environmentally friendly homes often use these types of materials in conjunction with sustainably sourced resources.

Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Eco-friendly homes have better insulation and need less energy to maintain temperatures. They also have more energy-efficient appliances and use less electricity. Less power means burning fewer fossil fuels, which lowers greenhouse gas emissions and slows the rate of global climate change.

Improve Indoor Air Quality

On average, people in the United States spend over 90 percent of their time indoors. Unfortunately, the air inside homes is approximately two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. Fire retardants, cleaning supplies and organic compounds — including mold and mildew — are just several of the items that contribute to indoor air pollution.

Green homes typically have better ventilation compared to traditionally constructed models. The better ventilation allows for improved air quality inside of a house, which, in turn, reduces the volume of concentrated pollutants. Better air circulation will lower the risk of respiratory illnesses and improve health overall.

Reduce Water Usage

Fresh water is quickly becoming a scarce resource. Water from aquifers is being depleted faster than it gets replenished. Surface water is expensive to treat due to higher levels of contamination. In many areas in the southwestern United States, droughts are frequent. Fortunately, green homes offer a solution to the water crisis.

Many green homes have low-flush toilets and motion-sensing faucets to help reduce the volume of fresh water used for daily activities, such as showering, flushing the toilet and washing dishes. Additionally, some homes take it a step further by using gray-water systems, which recycle water from showers and sinks to use for flushing toilets, rather than using potable water.

Reduce Water Pollution

Rain picks up chemicals from fertilizers, roofing materials and driveways as it flows to streams, lakes and rivers. Water flows faster over harder surfaces, such as concrete and asphalt. Eco-friendly houses often use rain barrels to capture runoff from roofs to use for watering lawns and gardens, which reduces the volume of contaminated rain water that makes it to lakes, streams and rivers. When the rainwater is reused on dry earth, it is absorbed and naturally purified by the soil.

Environmentally conscious homeowners tend to use fertilizers and organic compost to improve the quality of their lawns and gardens, as opposed to inorganic sources. Chemical fertilizers can make both animals and humans sick if they ingest them, or if they allow the hazardous materials to come into contact with their skin or open cuts. Excess chemicals may run off lawns into storm sewers, which will then hurt marine life.

Investing in a green home will save you money and help protect the environment.

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