Eco homes are residential structures that are designed and built in accordance with green construction principles. Although builders may have different definitions of what constitutes an eco home, generally, these homes are built in ways that attempt to improve the efficiency of natural resources, such as minerals, water, and energy. In addition, an eco home is usually built with the goals of reducing pollution, minimizing environmental waste, and diminishing negative impacts on human health. Eco homes fall within the broader categories of sustainable architecture or green building. They are also often referred to as green homes or eco-houses.
Typically, an eco home is built with the philosophy of sustainable design in mind. This philosophy seeks to build homes that are in sync with their natural surroundings. Most sustainable design principles use low-impact building materials for constructing eco homes. These materials usually require a low amount of energy and may be made from recycled goods or produced in a sustainable manner. In addition, in order to minimize replacement impact, eco homes are often designed with high-quality materials that are made to last for a long period of time.
A key goal for eco home construction is reducing natural resource consumption. Eco home builders often accomplish this goal by designing houses that capitalize on the use of renewable resources. For example, many eco homes use solar technologies, which are derived from the sun. The heating system in an eco-house can be powered by the sun using glass windows in the house as solar energy collectors to gather the sun’s rays. Solar energy may also be used for electricity production.
Eco homes frequently use vegetation to help reduce pollution and increase energy efficiency. For example, rain gardens and green roofs are common in many eco homes. Rain gardens are planted depressions that cause stormwater runoff from roofs, driveways, and walkways to soak into the ground instead of into storm drains. In a green roofing system, plants and trees are planted on all or part of the roof in order to help absorb rainwater and reduce heat reflection.
A number of countries have adopted standards for builders who construct eco homes. For example, the United States, Mexico, and Canada have all adopted some form of The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. South Africa uses the Green Star SA green building rating system while New Zealand uses the Green Star NZ system. China, Japan, and many other countries have also implemented national rating systems for green buildings.