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What is Green Design?

“Designing Green” can mean different things to different people but as general principles, the following apply whether building a new home, an addition or a renovation.

  1. Give Site Orientation its Due:
    If you give thought to the amount of south facing windows to maximize the potential of solar heat gain in the winter while providing overhangs to minimize solar gain in the summer coupled with good cross ventilation you’ll lower both your heating and cooling costs. This is not to say you shouldn’t have windows on other walls - your site may have it’s view or some feature to the west where in the summer you may have excessive heat gain or to the north, where you’ll feel the winter chill, but think about the amount of glass you really need and consider using high performance windows to compensate for better year round performance.
  2. Reduce that Carbon Footprint:
    It’s a given that the smaller the house or addition, the less of a carbon footprint you’ll have, both in its embodied energy (the amount of energy it requires to produce) and in the ongoing costs of heating and cooling. The best bang for your buck is to build a really well insulated home that has a high integrity building envelope and a mechanical air exchange system that reclaims heat while continuously providing fresh air to the home, thereby creating an environment inhospitable to mold. The result of this, is that you lower your costs for heating and cooling and you’ll find yourself in a quiet comfortable home with good indoor air quality.
  3. Think Globally in the Choice of Materials and where possible Choose Locally:
    You can increase the quality of indoor air by choosing products and materials which
    have low to negligible VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds – those nasty little off-gassing chemicals) and there are a myriad of products available. But consider this: as a consumer each of your choices have an impact - for example:  if you are interested in a product that is sustainably harvested at its source but then has to be shipped ½ way around the globe to end up in your home, ask yourself if  that is congruent with your original intention, or is there a local product sustainably harvested (or produced) which could serve you just as well, while minimizing  your impact on the environment and at the same time providing you with healthy indoor air quality
  4. WATER Our Precious Resource:
    So what about those glossy magazines featuring a perfect human body being sensuously caressed by 20 body sprays in a shower? They may each be low flow, but it adds up. Choose not only your fixtures wisely, but the number of them. And where possible, reclaim your water, either through roof catchment systems or grey water systems. Your garden will thank you for it.

We are so fortunate to live in an area with abundant resources: from energy audits on your home to let you know where you can really make a difference to renewable energy alternatives taking full advantage of solar or wind power, to water reclamation systems and sustainably harvested materials. 
The green list goes on & this home designer hopes you will make full use of it. For more information contact

Jennifer Charles, Residential Building Designer
250-334-0690 or e-mail

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