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YourAdministrator, eh?
8,000 Posts
Depends on what you consider a "Green Residence". If you are paying for labour, plus travel, plus materials, plus (PLUS, PLUS) then yes, a "Green Residence" could cost as much or more than your basic cookie-cutter home.

If you are building everything using locally produced materials with locally produced labour (your own hands and the hands of your family) with only minimal transportation of materials, then a "Green Residence" can be less money to build.

There are things that you would not be able to produce locally, so, you will pay a premium for those items (solar panels, wiring, charge controllers, batteries, heat and water pumps, tanks) but, if you do it right, those costs would be fairly negligable.

The wanderer
4,350 Posts
It depends, too, on how much time and work you want to put into it yourself.

Can you cut and peel logs yourself? Tear down a building and re-use the materials? Find other sources of used building supplies? Habitat for Humanity operates "thrift stores" of used or excess building supplies, everything from paint and doorknobs to bathroom fixtures and lights, doors and windows, you name it.

In it's own way that's "green" because you're recycling.

Then there's "green" in the long-term sense of solar electric set-ups, since after this initial cost, there's very little cost either to your pocketbook or the planet.

The first step I'd take is to look at my proposed building site and see what's available nearby --logs, stone, an old recyclable building. Then I'd work from there.

145 Posts
Some "green" building can be done by taking advantage of passive solar energy, planting trees for shade or evergreens for a wind break. In that case it may not be more, assuming its done in the planning stages. Its possible to buy "green" plans or hire a designer that specializes in the area.

155 Posts
You want to build "green" ( I hate that word), build just as big as you need, use all engineered building material or metal and insulate like crazy. The real building cost will likely be lower than a "normal" build.

While I did build twice as big as I really needed, most building materials were engineered wood (young farm trees) or metal ( old cars). I then exceeded the insulating code by 2 to 3 times, the cost of insulation is cheap compared to energy. The house design had wrap around porches, all windows and exterior walls are shaded. I did my energy calculations and they sized my AC for 1.5 tons while all the HVAC calculators said 4 tons. I compromised at 3 and wish I had settled for 2. The cost to heat and cool is very small ( did not talk about heating because I don't have any idea of cost, private gas well for heating)

Nothing fancy but very effective at reducing energy usage and building cost.

684 Posts
'Green' can mean anything from reusing old lumber from another building that is getting torn down, which saves trees, transportation, market space, ect. which is all considered 'Green',

Or you can build from new materials, but build your home sealed up tight, with lots of insulation so you don't piss away energy trying to heat/cool it, and don't waste energy with a lot of yard lighting, high amperage fixtures in the home, energy hog appliances, ect.
That is all considered 'Green'...

Or you can look for Locally made products,
Since about 80% of most products is packaging and shipping costs,
If they are found locally, then they get shipped a lot shorter distance, and that is considered 'Green'.

Using things like Bamboo which grows very quickly and is 'Renewable' instead of exotic hard woods that grow very slowly and have to be extracted from rain forests which does damage, and take a very long time (if ever) to grow back, and have to be shipped a long distance...
Bamboo and local things like cement counter tops instead of marble or granite counter tops is considered 'Green'.

Having your place built so it saves energy,
Stuff like a lot of insulation, low impact/high efficiency heating/cooling, fans ceiling fans instead of turning on the air conditioning in April, keeping the thermostat down to about 65 degrees in the winter and wearing a sweater is considered 'Green'...

Recycling the crap you normally throw out,
I use my over packaged cardboard and paper instructions around the plants in the garden, Keeps the weeds down (I HATE weeding) and the cardboard recycles as it rots away and gets plowed under when we replant.

Smashed up tin cans make a good mat to go under a new driveway.
They rust together, make a mat that keeps your rock from sinking.
Nothing like replacing the rock every year or two on a long driveway, but if you skin the sod back, mat the drive with smashed cans, and lay your rock it won't disappear.

I reused most of an old barn in my garage for paneling, counter, bar, work benches, ect.
About any of the wood that wasn't rotted or filled with bugs I reused.
Makes for a VERY rustic look, and was 'Enviormentally Frendly'...

Another version of 'Green' is to build your home so you take advantage of 'Passive Solar',
Porches that are sized to keep the high summer sun out of the home so you give the air conditioner a break,
But short enough they let the WINTER sun in the house to keep the heat bills down...

One of the Versions of 'Green' that is expensive is Solar Power,
Solar energy is mainly two things, PV, which is electric,
Or solar thermal, which is heat.
Some guys build hollow false walls outside the framing of the house, catches the heat and circulates it though the home in the winter,
In summer, the heat is released out side through vents, and the home stays cooler.
That's also passive solar...

Active solar,
You can Pre Heat your water going into the hot water heater or boiler by using collectors on your home.
These are pretty inexpensive and easy for you to make yourself,
Or you can buy those huge, expensive things from manufacturers that cost a fortune, your choice.
The idea is, the sun heats the collector panels up, that heats liquid inside, and then you pump that liquid into your water heater where it sheds it's heat to the hot water tank.

Solar electricity (PV) means you make your own power, more or less.
Over time, these ALWAYS pay for themselves!
They have some pretty expensive up front costs, but they emit ZERO emissions and keep your electric bill reasonable.
This is the 'Chic' version of 'Green' building right now...

We ALL KNOW that energy costs are going to do nothing but go up like crazy,
My array was supposed to pay it's self back in 22 years, took less than 9 with the rate hikes!

Seal up those cracks and leaks that wick away your heating/cooling and that is 'Green'.
Put in thermal windows, that is 'Green',
Put in new thermal doors, that is 'Green'.
Put some extra insulation in, that is 'Green'
It all saves you money when heating/cooling!

Switch over to compact fluorescent bulbs or LED bulbs, they save you a TON of money over time.
Pay attention to the efficiency rating on things like water heaters, furnaces, air conditioners, stoves, microwaves, even hair dryers will suck the crap out of your electric bill!

Turn off computers, TV, cable boxes when not using.
They suck a ton of electricity when they are on 'Stand By', actually cut the power to them and you will see your electric bill drop immediately.

That is money you keep in your pocket, and green house gases and waste products the power plants don't produce.

Now, we didn't build 'Green' on purpose, We built 'EFFICIENT' which turned out to be 'Green' when everyone else figured it out.

Poured concrete house that is earth sheltered,
Earth sheltered means the temp stays constant and we don't have to spend a fortune in heating/cooling.
Super insulation, sprayed in closed cell foam helps cut the Heat/cool bills even more.
Triple pane, gas filled Low E coatings on the windows that are south facing.
Lots of windows means we don't have to burn lights much in the daytime, and the efficient windows means we don't loose a bunch of heat/cool through them.
We get passive solar in the winter, keeping cool in the summer since the porch roof is extended enough to keep out summer direct heat, and lets in low sun in the winter.

Radiant floor heat means the floors are always warm, the heat rises evenly, and ceiling fans circulate the heat/cool around the rooms so the boiler/air conditioner doesn't have to run as much with heat sticking to the roof, and cool sticking to the floor.

Saving rain water run off keeps the water bill down, garden and livestock get watered from mostly run off water from shop/garage roof.
One small pump that is solar powered keeps things watered without me having to constantly keep track of things.
Low pressure keeps from having the water run off, the ground actually gets the moisture instead of the water running off then drying out again like high pressure, high volume systems do.

Drip irrigation in the garden helps too.

It's up to you, think it through, use everything to your advantage if you can...
The contractors will try and sell you what they can put up fast and make the most profit on,
So it's up to you to do the research, make sure the seams are caulked, the windows fit the holes and are sealed up, ect.
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