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What are the Different Types of Green Home Building?

Kristie Lorette
Kristie Lorette

There are three primary types of green home building, which is a type of construction that is eco-friendly. These generally include buildings constructed or renovated with sustainable or renewable materials, energy efficient homes, and structures with both characteristics — made with sustainable materials and operate in an environmentally-friendly manner. Many of those fabricated using green home building plans are also designed to be healthier for residents and visitors.

Green homes built or renovated with sustainable — also sometimes known as renewable — materials are items and products that can be replenished, or are recycled or recyclable. For example, when a building or home is knocked down, or a portion of it is demolished, some companies reclaim any building materials that can be used in making other homes. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), some common reclaimed building materials include marble fireplace mantles, antique fixtures, old-growth hardwood floors, wide-plank lumber, and knot-free wood with a fine grain. Using recycled materials to build or renovate a home is another type of green home building. Recycled home building materials may be used items, items that have been rebuilt or reconditioned, or products that are manufactured from re-made parts.

A house with solar panels.
A house with solar panels.

The second type of green home is one that is energy efficient. This can originate from a multitude of places. For instance, installing energy efficient appliances that use less water and require less energy to operate is more efficient and can make a home more green. Proper insulation is another example of ways to maximize energy use in the home. For those who take this form of efficiency a step further, the home may contain solar panels on the roof, use rain barrels to capture water for landscape irrigation, and be painted with paints that do not emit toxic fumes.

A green home might incorporate reclaimed lumber.
A green home might incorporate reclaimed lumber.

The final green home building type is a hybrid of the two aforementioned options. In such a newly-built home, the entire building may be made of sustainable, renewable, or recycled products. In addition, features like the insulation, appliances, and heating and cooling system may be as energy efficient as possible, Also, the structure may be void of toxic materials, so that the home is healthy for the people in it and is friendly to the environment. While it may be necessary for some new parts to be used in building a home, the less waste created and the more reused materials are included, the more green the home is.

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Discussion Comments


@ElizaBennett - Something else to keep in mind with green building materials is what your floor covering will be. Carpet is made of synthetic materials these days and it also is known for outgassing.

So there are a few different options. You can get carpet made of wool or other natural fibers that hasn't been treated with toxic chemicals, or you can look into alternate flooring materials, like stone or (sustainable) wood. An advantage of hard flooring is that it is easier to keep really clean. You don't have to have it shampooed with harsh chemicals every year and it doesn't hold in allergens, indoor air pollution, etc.


If you're interested in green home design, keep in mind that what you put *in* your home can be just as important as what it's made of! Ironically, for instance, a baby's nursery is often the most toxic room in the house.

Why? Because everything in it is brand spankin' new, and new products are notorious for "outgassing" - that is, the chemicals in the finish, the glue, the mattress stuffing, etc., are coming off the product and into the air in your house.

I was able to find a crib with nontoxic finish for less than a hundred dollars and I aired out the mattress on my screened-in porch for several days. (I just couldn't afford to shell out three figures for a wool mattress.) Everything else I bought used! That way, they were pre-outgassed.

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    • A house with solar panels.
      By: il-fede
      A house with solar panels.
    • A green home might incorporate reclaimed lumber.
      By: leekris
      A green home might incorporate reclaimed lumber.
    • Green homes are energy efficient with proper insulation.
      By: Barbara Helgason
      Green homes are energy efficient with proper insulation.