A green designed house can respond to the serious problem of growing landfills, dwindling natural resources and global warming. Harmony Architects creates solutions for your house to achieve maximum harmony with the environment. This is achieved through thoughtful planning with respect to site orientation, consideration of heat gain and loss, selection of eco-friendly building materials, energy saving appliances and incorporating renewable energy sources. Green building goals are triple fold: consideration for the environment, healthier buildings for the occupants and to save money in energy and utility bills.
Visit www.treehugger.com/gogreen.php for a plethora of information on how to "go green" in every aspect of life.
Think about the environmental impact of a product before making a purchase. When comparing products, think about how much energy has been utilized in creating the product.
Buying higher quality products increases the chance of a longer product lifespan rather than it being thrown in a landfill soon.
Reuse plastic grocery bags for trash or at the grocery store till they are worn out and then recycle.
Take your own bags to the grocery store. If you purchase only one or few items, do not accept a plastic bag- just carry your goods! Visit www.amazon.com to buy canvas grocery bags.
Request online bills and pay online to reduce paper used by corporations.
Walk or bike where you can instead of driving. Use public transportation wherever possible.
Avoid cheap plastic toys for children's goody bag gifts. Most of them are made abroad with no regulation on the quality of plastic and dyes used. These toys also break easily and quickly end up in landfills.
Use unwanted envelopes of junk mail for quick notes or writing grocery lists.
Buy products with recycled content. There are building products, paper products, home products such as door mats, garden edging boards, outdoor furniture, paper towels, tissues etc made with recycled content.
Do not keep the water running when brushing teeth or shaving. Wash hands by rinse, soap and rinse method instead of keeping the tap running.
Run appliances such as laundry and dishwasher during off-peak times to save on electricity.
Run the dishwasher and laundry when loads are full and on short cycles.
In summer, utilize the natural heat to dry blankets, sheets and bath rugs.
In summer, utilize portable fans instead of turning on the whole house A/C. An effective way to reduce heat gain in summer is to keep windows facing east, south and west closed with drapes drawn from 10 am to 5pm when heat gains are maximum. If required, turn on A/C to cool down the house and then turn it off. Thereafter utilize a fan.
In winter, allow maximum heat gain through windows by keeping the drapes open, but windows closed. Use portable heaters instead of whole house furnace. Wear extra clothes for warmth before turning the furnace on. Heat from a furnace dries up the indoor air inducing nasal dryness leading to coughs and colds. Utilize a humidifier along with a heater to balance the humidity levels in a room.
Reuse, repair, refinish, upholster or donate furniture.
Donate items to thrift stores.
Recycle or donate electronic goods, bicycles, CD's, batteries, appliances, toys, computers etc. Visit www.stopwaste.org for a list of facilities which accept these goods for recycling and proper disposal.
Purchase Energy star www.energystar.gov/ approved appliances such as dishwashers, refrigerators, furnaces and windows.
Use cleaning products which do not release harmful chemicals. Baking soda on a damp sponge works great on kitchen countertops to get rid of tough stains and grease. A spray bottle filled with water, a teaspoon of vinegar and a drop of liquid dish soap works great to clean mirrors, windows and even floors. Clean stains on carpet with a rag towel, warm water and a bit of liquid dish soap.
Maintain indoor air quality by ventilating the house by opening windows, replace furnace air filter, and use natural cleaners such as baking soda and vinegar for sinks, windows, mirrors, etc. Use formaldehyde and toluene free nail polish and avoid using permanent marker pens like "Sharpies" in poorly ventilated rooms.
Save energy by turning down the furnace thermostat and water heater setting to "vacation mode" if you plan to be out of the house for a few days.
Use durable reusable items such as cloth napkins for cleaning; plastic or glass plates for entertaining instead of paper or Styrofoam. For parties, have guests write their names on paper cups to avoid each person using three or four cups for a single evening.
Use reusable gift bags rather than gift wrapping paper wherever possible.
Do not use Styrofoam containers, plates and cups. These items are non biodegradable and only containers which have not come in contact with food can be recycled.
Avoid using paper towels for wiping and cleaning. Use cloth or micro fiber towels which can be reused.
Use zero or low VOC (volatile organic compound) paints. Regular paints emit fumes which are toxic to human health and are ozone depleting. These are available through manufacturers such as Sherwin Williams, Kelly Moore, Benjamin Moore.
Do not dump left over paints, cleaning solutions, chemicals or motor oil in a household or storm drain. These products have hazardous chemicals which contaminate the watershed when poured down a storm drain and contaminate our Bay. Dispose off at local hazardous waste drop off centers. Find more information from your city waste management department. Clean brushes with rags and turpentine instead of washing in sinks.
If remodeling; old carpets, windows, bathroom fixtures, and cabinets can be donated instead of disposing off in a landfill. Items can be listed on websites such as http://sfbay.craigslist.org/
Notify the contractor to carefully remove old building materials rather than demolish, so it could be salvaged for reuse.
Use compact fluorescent bulbs or LED bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs. Several attractive fluorescent light fixtures are now available which accept pin type fluorescent bulbs.
Consider planting drought resistant plants instead of lawns to conserve water. Use mulch, pebbles or decorative glass pieces at base of plant to retain moisture in soil. Visit http://www.stopwaste.org/home/index.asp?page=629 for a list of Bay friendly plants which require minimal water and maintenance. Install drip irrigation system instead of overhead sprinklers to water plants.
For outdoor paving surfaces, use permeable pavers or pavers laid in sand over a compacted sub base. This allows rainwater to naturally infiltrate the ground and replenish groundwater reserves.