Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sustainability and Maintainability

Sustainable Housing can be defined as housing that conserves resources as much as possible.

What's the most important resource to the average person? Their MONEY. Therefore, new green built homes should not only aim for zero energy, but also for zero maintenance. Life's too short to paint siding.

Here's the start of my zero maintenance checklist:

1. No exposed, painted wood. Board and Batten wood siding may be used if you make the pledge to let it weather naturally, and turn silver grey, then mottled dark brown.

2. Use large gutters and downspouts. The bigger they are, the less likely they are to clog. Employ scuppers where appropriate, they can be cleaned in a fraction of the time. Pop rivets should be specified in lieu of screws. "Gutter Helmet" type devices are not the silver bullet, but they can help.

3. Consider designing the house to look good with galvanized sheet metal trim. 24 gauge galvanized gutters and fascia will never have to be replaced or even painted in your lifetime. When it does start to rust in 80 years, let it, and go for a rustic look. Failure is still 40 more years out. Of course, copper is even better, but the price/performance is not.

4. Pay a lot of attention to the "splash zone" where rain puts wet mud on the house on the lowest 12"-36"

5. Low maintenance landscaping. Please don't be tempted to put concrete and asphalt everywhere, or astroturf.

6. Fiberglass windows. These really are the only option for zero maintenance windows. Vinyl will crack eventually, and any sort of wood window needs regular painting or varnishing.

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