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Why Building Green Homes Is Harder Than You Think

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In the era of climate change, not all industries are making the changes they need to. While construction methods and materials now exist to make homes and other buildings more energy efficient than ever before, legislation and regulations often struggle to keep up, resulting in many people avoiding green construction.

Why New Construction Methods Are Needed

Construction and new buildings are often a source of additional waste that adds to climate change. In fact, construction projects produce as much of 40% of all American waste. Additionally, the creation of new materials for construction can contribute to industries already doing damage to the environment. Today the world makes and consumes about 600 billion pounds of plastic yearly, and the market is still growing about 5% a year. Many traditional construction materials make use of plastics, which don’t biodegrade at the end of their life cycles and rely on limited, nonrenewable resources to create.

Options Ready And Available

Thanks to technological advances and growing consumer trends, a variety of green building options are quickly becoming available. Between natural building materials and incredibly efficient options like ICF walls, many builders and homeowners are finding alternatives to reduce their environmental impact in their homes. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, ICF walls can save homeowners 20% to 25% on annual heating and cooling costs.

Not all environmentally-friendly homes are constructed exclusively of green materials; some reduce their impact by reducing their physical footprint. Tiny homes have become popular among minimalists and environmentalists, but these unique homes come with an equally unique problem: zoning laws and building regulations. Many tiny homes aren’t large enough to be considered a legal residence, leaving tiny home owners in a difficult position.

Zoning Laws Struggle To Keep Up

With unconventional building methods and materials designed to reduce environmental impacts, many local governments and other organizations are having difficulty keeping up. This is partially due to building codes varying greatly from state to state and even county to county. There are 67 counties in Pennsylvania alone, and different counties will have different requirements for green homes to meet.

Currently, builders and homeowners have been using a variety of strategies to get around the restrictive zoning laws. While some choose to make their green homes mobile to avoid zoning issues, others work closely with consultants, contractors, and local officials to carefully adhere to legislation while still meeting all of their environmental goals. Solutions vary between locations, but currently, few overall options exist to guarantee green homes will meet building codes.

The Future Of Green Architecture

As more people make the move to green homes and architecture, zoning laws will need to adjust to keep up. Environmentally-friendly construction methods already exist, with a variety of options available to homeowners everywhere. Instead, zoning laws will need to adapt to accommodate these new, modern buildings designed to meet the needs of a changing world. With the right adjustments, it is possible that green buildings and homes could become the new normal nationwide.

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