Building Green: Eco-Friendly Homes

By: Danny Lipford
Danny Lipford explores building a green home

Danny Lipford takes a look at what goes into building a green home.

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I’ve long been a proponent of green building, since it’s both good for the environment and can save big bucks on utility bills. Here are some of the many aspects of building an eco-friendly home, from recycling and energy efficiency to saving water and reducing VOCs.

Recycle and Reuse

One key aspect of green building is reducing and reusing the waste generated during the construction process. When building or remodeling a home, I always try to reuse any scrap building materials and recycle the rest.

Grinding construction waste into mulch

Construction waste can be ground into mulch for use in landscaping.

Another way I like to conserve natural resources is by using salvaged materials whenever possible. Reusing old flooring from a demolished building or sawing storm damaged trees into lumber are great ways to reduce cost while adding character to your home.

Heat and Cool

The type of HVAC system in your home can make a big difference in how much you spend to heat and cool it. One of the most energy efficient systems I’ve seen is a geothermal heat pump, which works by extracting heat from ground water. While more expensive than a traditional heating and cooling system, a geothermal heat pump will pay for itself over time and can also be used to supply hot water for your home.

Spraying foam insulation into walls

Foam insulation expands on contact when sprayed into walls and attics.


To further reduce heating and cooling costs, consider spraying foam insulation in the walls, floors, and attic. Even though foam insulation costs more, it can save money in the long run, since it reduces heat loss by 60% or more.

Insulation Tip

When installing rolls or batts of fiberglass insulation, always face the vapor barrier in toward the heated part of your home. Use unfaced insulation when adding an additional layer of insulation to an attic to avoid condensation.


Eco-friendly building practices can even apply to your yard. Plants that grow naturally in your area will do better and require less attention than nonnative species.

Patio has permeable base and mondo grass planted between stones

Patio with permeable base and mondo grass planted between stones to absorb water.

Another great green idea for your yard that I’ve seen is permeable materials for your driveways, sidewalks, and patios that allow rainwater to pass through rather than runoff.

Conserve Water

To water your yard more efficiently, install an eco-friendly sprinkler system. The Weathermatic SmartLine has a built-in weather station that monitors the amount of moisture present and adjusts the watering schedule accordingly.

Other ways to reduce the water usage in your home that I try to include in my projects are installing low-flow sinks and showerheads along with water saving or dual-flush toilets. Look for products that carry the WaterSense label, since they use an average of 20% less water than other models.

Eco-friendly furniture made with natural fabrics and soy-based foam

This eco-friendly furniture was made with natural fabrics and soy-based foam.

Air Quality

Since energy efficient homes are tightly sealed, it’s important to use low or no VOC paints and adhesives to keep harmful chemicals out of the air. In addition, I try to make sure that cabinets, countertops, furniture, and flooring are free of formaldehyde and other dangerous chemicals.


Building a green home even extends to the furnishings that go in it. Select rugs and fabrics colored with vegetable dyes; or use natural fabrics such as linen, cotton, and bamboo. I’ve found that furniture cushions made of soy-based foam are another green choice.

Green Home Info

Further information on the eco-friendly home featured in this episode is available at:

  • House Plans: Chatham Design Group
  • Home Builder: Jeremy Friedman

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Other Tips from This Episode

Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Do-It-Yourself Rain Barrel

Homemade rain barrel for your yardA rain barrel is a great way to save water when irrigating your yard, and you can make one yourself for under $50. Drill a hole near the bottom of a large plastic garbage can, then screw an outside spigot to it. Cut a hole in the can lid, fit it with a drainage grate to keep out debris, and secure the lid to the can with cable ties. Set the barrel on concrete blocks, and direct the downspout into it. (Watch This Video)

Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
Exterior Multi-Surface Cleaner

Exterior Multi-Surface CleanerThe oxy-foaming action in Exterior Multi-Surface Cleaner from Thompson’s WaterSeal removes dirt and mildew on everything from wood and composite to concrete and masonry without bleach. Apply the cleaner with a pump-up sprayer, allow it to soak for a few minutes, scrub with a stiff brush, then rinse off. Thompson’s Exterior Cleaner is available at The Home Depot. (Watch This Video)

Thinking Green with Danny Lipford:
Importance of Natural Light

Mirrors can increase natural lighting in a homeDid you know that natural light in your home not only saves energy but can improve your mood? Adding mirrors can increase the amount of natural light in a room. You may also want to consider adding a tubular skylight to provide an additional outside source of natural light. (Watch This Video)



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