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How to Build Your Green Home

written by: Laura Jean Karr•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 2/12/2012

There are many different ways that you can build a green home in today's world. From creating your own bricks from local soil to buying a yurt, housing options come down to personal choice and what your goals are for building a green home.

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    There are several ways to build your home green. Some methods can become expensive, while other green building options can be much more cost effective than building in the traditional commercial way. The method that you choose for building depends on what your goal in building a green home is. You can build to leave as little footprint on the environment as possible or you can build in a sustainable way that will ensure that your home lasts for many generations. Personal preferences and creativity are key when narrowing down your green home building options.

    First we are going to go over the main ways in which to build the foundations and support for building green. The different materials that are listed below are geared more towards a permanent generational structure.

    • Straw Bale: Straw is used from surplus waste of wheat, oats, barley, rye and rice in bales that are covered by stucco. Options are using straw bales in conjunction with post and beam construction or using the straw bales as the structural source for the construction. Using the right amount of plaster/stucco in building the life of the straw bales often lasts up to eight years or more with regular maintenance to keep the structure water resistant. Learn more through the International Straw Bale Building Registry.
    • Earth Block: Depending on the local soil in your area there are various ways to make your own Earth blocks. Generally, you will want to use the base subsoil's for your area that are at least have a clay content around 30% and each brick needs to be compressed for durability. This method of green building has become so popular that there are entire home communities like The Villages of Loreto Bay that are built all off of Earth Block construction. For more information see the constructors site Earth Block, Inc.
    • Adobe: Building by using Adobe is also becoming as popular as the Earth block method. You have the option of making your own or getting help from adobe builders. Local soil can be used and the mixture that is needed for pure adobe construction consists of 75% sand and 25% clay. You can learn more about creating your own adobe home through the Adobe Building Systems Do-It-Yourself guide.

    To get a more in depth look at the various ways in which you can build your own green home, or get help from certified green home builders then check out the Sourcebook for Green and Sustainable Building online.

    Now, we are going to take a look at green building options that are made from sustainable materials that leave less of an impact on the environment. Many of the following green building home options are portable and can last for many years but are by no means as structurally lasting as the green building options listed above.

    • Yurt: Modern yurt homes are based off of the nomadic housing of Central Asian cultures. The base of the yurt comes from either a collapsible wood or steel frame and is covered in fabric. A tension band and a central compression ring create the "glue" that holds everything together. For more information on yurts in America, visit The Pacific Yurts.
    • Eco-pod: The eco-pod design idea that comes from creating a sustainable and portable home built from recyclable materials. All eco-pods come with their own solar power systems for off gird living. Learn more through Eco-Pod Canada.
    • Folded Bamboo: Housing deign by Ming Tang, in corporates and pop-up type style of portable and green housing. A series of bamboo poles are pre-assembled into different geometric shapes that are then covered with recycled paper. View these homes through Urban Revision.