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Southern Home Design - Can Southern Homes be 'Green'? Part 1

Services for Real Estate Pros with Tim Barron Architect, Inc.

Southern Home Design - Can Southern Homes be ‘Green'? Part 1Tim Barron Southern Home Design

Recently, I was talking with an Architect friend who asked if a Southern Home could be ‘Green'.  My reply was immediate - "Of Course it can!"  In fact, I believe the old Southern Homes were the epitome of Green.

To illustrate my point, I'll use the LEED certification categories and tell you how well Southern Homes performed. What is LEED anyway? "LEED", which stands for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a buzz word you hear a lot lately. The U.S. Green Building Council, which is a non-profit organization representing the entire building industry, has set up certain criteria that they deem a project should meet in order to be environmentally friendly.  These are the 9 certification categories- Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, Location & Linkages, Awareness & Education, Innovation in Design, and Regional Priority.LEED



Clearly, Southern Homes did well in the Sustainable Sites category. Maybe not on Compact Development, but talk about Site Stewardship!  All landscaping was done with Local Plant Materials, and Surface Water Management was simple common sense.  No Urban Heat Islands or Light Pollution here! And Non-Toxic Pest Control was the norm - unless you consider that many varmints died of ‘lead poisoning' from being shot.

Water Efficiency was a huge part of the Southern Home.  We've come a long way in making our Irrigation Systems more efficient, but Rain Water Harvesting was prolific.  Farms used cisterns, and city homes used rain barrels.  Southerners used very little water on their lawns - it just wasn't that important.  And modern science still hasn't come up with a toilet that uses as little water as an outhouse! [Not that we'd want to go back to that.]

That will get our discussion started, and I will cover the remaining 7 categories in future posts.

When I design Southern Homes, I try to use lessons learned from the old examples of the past and incorporate newer technologies to make my homes as green as possible.

Geoff ONeill
John L. Scott Medford - Medford, OR

The most benefits seem to be derived from inexpensive and sometime accidental things.  The Tree that shades the home in the summer and keeps the AC bills down.  From what I've seen the best bang for the buck is a programmable thermostat.

Feb 05, 2011 07:07 AM
Tim Barron

Geoff, I agree totally. The programmable thermostat is my #1 recommendation for energy savings bang-for-the-buck. Of course, you do have to program it to get the benefit.

And mature, well placed trees can have a HUGE effect on energy savings, comfort, and the many added benefits of nature. Getting them to be well-placed is really about placing the home well - after all, the trees have to be mature to give shade! I think a tree has to be at least 20-25 years old to be tall enough and thick enough to shade a 2-story home effectively. It KILLS ME when tract builders mow down acres of mature trees to build a neighborhood of (often cookie-cutter) houses, and then try to sell them as 'natural' because they planted a Bradford Pear on the lot!

Feb 06, 2011 09:30 AM