Green Builder Picks the Five Best Building Ideas This Century (So Far)

Green Builder Picks the Five Best Building Ideas This Century (So Far)

Tell Us Your Favorite Green Innovation; Get Entered to Win a $1,000 Lowes Gift Card

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Low-energy use, no hazardous waste, long life ... LEDs are a win-win-win.

Freshwater supplies are getting scarce, especially out West, dual-flush halves the amount of water going down the drain.

Part of the Internet of Things, smart thermostats can save you 20-30 percent on your heating or cooling bill.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 - 10:00am

The building industry is notoriously slow to change, but when the global recession hit a few years ago, smart builders carved a green niche to save their companies. Eco-friendly construction tends to continue, even when times are relatively bad, motivated by the idea of saving money on energy, water, and maintenance.

What's really changed in the past couple of decades? Here's my short list of some of the best and brightest ideas, and why they matter:

LED Lighting. Finally, we can stop cursing our compact fluorescent lamps. Unlike fluorescent lamps, which rarely live up to their promised of 10,000 hour lifespans, contain enough mercury to classify as hazardous waste and make your complexion look like undead zombie flesh, LEDs do it all. They' use a fraction of the energy of a CFL, come in dimmable versions that change color warmly, last up to 50,000 hours, and don't contain mercury. Win, win, win. (There is even an LED that fits effortlessly into existing traditional fluorescent fixture.)

Dual-Flush Toilets. A simple either-or button push on most new toilets keeps half the water of a normal flush from going down the drain. At a time when freshwater supplies are getting scarce--especially out West--the dual-flush toilet changed the rules. The only way to get much MORE water frugal will be a switch to bidets, like the Europeans, but I doubt that will happen until Scarlett Johannson says it's the only sexy way to cleanse. Do it yourselfers, convert your regular toilet into a dual flush. Check out this how-to video

Super-Quiet Bath Fans. Remember the roar of the old bathroom fan? A lot of the new fans are so quiet, however, that you don't even know they're running. They're silently keeping your bathroom ceiling and walls dry enough to prevent mold and rot. An important part of an indoor air quality strategy.

Smart Thermostats. There's a reason Google paid $3.2 billion for Nest, a company that makes "learning" thermostats and smoke detectors. The future lies that way--in what some call the Internet of Things. It's a future where your thermostat compensates for your lazy attitude toward conserving energy, and adjusts temperatures for you, simply by observing the way you live. It may sound creepy, but when you save 20-30% on your heating or cooling bill, you may be willing to forgive the digital intrusion.

Catalytic Wood Stoves. Wood stoves cost little to operate, and burn renewable fuel-but the old models are terrible polluters, linked to asthma and a host of other repiratory complaints. Fortunately, well-ventilated new models have a double-burn system that reduces particulates by 70 percent. They also burn 1/3 less wood than models made before 1990. Spend a little extra for a new model, and avoid serious health risks.

Got another green innovation in mind? Tell us what you think should be on this list and we'll enter you to win a $1,000 Lowes gift card at the same time. Click HERE for info!—Matt Power, Editor-In-Chief


Matt Power
+1 (207) 274-1327
Green Builder Media
CATEGORY: Environment