Recently, I had the opportunity to host VIP tours of Green Builder Media’s VISION House® at Disney’s Epcot Theme Park in Orlando, Florida. The idea behind this exhibit, created in collaboration with Disney Imagineers, is to showcase the latest innovations in green design and sustainable living. I discovered a few money-saving and environmentally friendly features that anyone can add affordably to Save Some Green by Living Green.
Brick on the Exterior Saves Energy Bucks
Brick is a sustainable material that helps lower the utility bill because it holds in temperatures. Brick is made of clay and water so it’s environmentally safe, free of chemicals and pollutants. It’s durable, can carry heavy weight loads, fire resistant, and recyclable. As a bonus, old bricks make great architectural features when they are salvaged and reused in structures to add character.
Smog Eating Tiles Keep Us Healthy
I was surprised to discover that roof tile can actually cut down on air pollution. Boral manufactures the BoralPure Smog Eating Tile that reduces the formation of smog. According to Boral, the roof tiles “eat” smog when exposed to sunlight by oxidizing pollutants and converting them into inert calcium nitrates that wash away with the next rainfall.
LED fixtures Use 75 Percent Less Energy
According to U.S. Energy Department, ENERGY STAR-qualified LEDs (light-emitting diodes) use 75 percent less energy and last up to 25 times longer than other light bulbs. The movement of electrons through a semiconductor material illuminates LEDs. They can be integrated into all sorts of products to provide white and colored light, such as flashlights, light bulbs, and integrated light fixtures. Unlike incandescent or fluorescent bulbs, LEDs emit light in a specific direction, reducing the need for reflectors and diffusers that can trap light; they are ideal for recessed downlights and task lighting. Another cost-saving advantage, LEDs emit almost no heat whereas incandescent bulbs release 90% of their energy as heat and CFLs release about 80% of their energy as heat. The Vision House features LED lighting by Sylvania.
Low-VOC Household Features Improve Air Quality
“VOC” stands for Volatile Organic Compounds, which are chemical fumes released into the air. A common carrier of VOCs is the kitchen cabinet, which can contain formaldehyde used to bind the particleboard in cabinet’s interior boxes. The toxic chemical also shows up in cabinet stains and finishes. No or Low-VOC cabinets improve indoor air quality and reduce toxins because they don’t contain formaldehyde and other chemicals.The Vision House kitchen features Low-VOC cabinets from Armstrong World Industries.
Home insulation is another potential source of VOCs. The insulation in Vision House is made of natural cotton fiber including denim clothing. The natural cotton fiber insulation has no VOCs, it’s mold and mildew resistant as well as fire retardant and completely safe to touch. A picture window into the wall in the family area provides a close up view of the insulation.
Energy efficient Windows Shave 15 Percent off Heating and Cooling Costs
Energy Star Qualified windows filter out damaging ultraviolet light and save on heating and cooling costs. The U.S. Energy Department estimates that upgrading to Energy Star Qualified windows can save approximately seven to 15 percent on a home’s energy bill. The windows in Vision House are by Pella and have three layers of glass with argon gas between the layers. Argon gas is denser than air and enhances insulation.
Grow a Wall Garden
Another creative idea that adds ambiance and enhances air quality and energy efficiency in a home is a green wall made of living, breathing plants. The Vision House features a green wall in the backyard that helps to regulate temperature, clean the air, and filter the water. It’s also a lush focal point in this backyard retreat.
The entire Vision House is powered by Hanwha Solar photovoltaic modules on the house’s rooftop and a whole-home automation system (The Home Intelligence system) that can adjust the lighting and temperature in each separate zone throughout the house. If you would like to check it out, Vision House is located in Epcot’s Innoventions Exhibit area. What are your money-saving and environmentally safe ideas for going green at home? Share your comments with our readers. I would love to hear from you.