Are Active Eco Friendly Homes Better Than Passive Ones?

By Nick Matteo | March 23, 2016

What better way to celebrate Earth Day?

The Industrial Revolution: it’s in every textbook. It was the first time that people started congregating in cities; it was beginning of an era of factories, smog, and huge leaps and bounds in technology. That was in 1760.

Eco-Friendly-HomesFast forward 250 years. The global community is just now admitting that we as humans have impacted our environment, and is starting to move towards taking ‘green’ measures to stop harming the earth.

At How Building Services, it’s a delight to build eco friendly homes. If you’re considering constructing an eco friendly home, there are two methods you can use.

The two overarching ways to achieve an eco-friendly home are Active and Passive. ‘Active’ means that your home is actively working to save on energy and reduce its carbon footprint. ‘Passive’ eco friendly houses have the energy-saving efficiency built into them from the very start, so that they have almost no carbon footprint to negate. But which is right for you?

Eco Friendly Homes: Active or Passive?

Active eco friendly homes take certain measures to get advanced LEED certification. For example, the Electronic House of the Year award went to a home in New Canaan, Connecticut. That home has touch screens built into the walls that control lighting, heat, irrigation, sound, and more. A lot of energy can be saved simply by having an easily-accessible way to turn off different functions.

Another way to be Active is to use a geothermal heating/cooling system. Geothermal heating and cooling systems rely on the stable temperature of the earth (6-10 meters from the surface), to regulate the temperature of large homes. This is extremely efficient, and although the upfront cost of a geothermal system may seem daunting at first, the initial investment will pay off in the long run.

Passive homes, on the other hand, rely largely on concepts that have been around for millenia. Starting with eco friendly home plans, they construct houses that are virtually air-tight, heavily-insulated, and north-south facing. The goal is to allow for natural solar heating through strategically-placed windows, and natural cooling from the ventilation from–again–strategically placed windows. Alex Bozekovic writes for The Globe and Mail, quoting the architect of a home in Montreal: “Windows on the end gables open, as do skylights, creating a strong cross-breeze that moves along the length of the house and pushes warm air up and outward. This kind of air movement is called stack ventilation, ‘and it sounds a bit complicated, at least for anyone born after the 1970s,’ Pearl says with a laugh. ‘If you’re older than that, or if you live in an old house, it makes sense.’” The house is then insulated so that little-to-no heat can make an untimely escape.

Both methods effectively produce green homes, but they should be considered now, well in advance of the actual build. Any builder should be thrilled to implement any of these measures, provided they are comfortable with and knowledgeable about the necessary steps.

For more information, or to talk to a builder who you can trust to build a truly eco-friendly home, call (484) 483-1690.

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