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   Garages: Building Green
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Building a Green Garage

How might "Green-Building" affect the way you build your garage? A home's I.A.Q. (indoor air quality) can be negatively impacted by car exhaust, solvents, chemicals, paints or other fumes coming from an attached garage. There are a number of solutions for curbing the possible dangers that come with an attached garage. We will discuss some green strategies for carports, breezeways, detached and attached garages.

Building Green

Even if you are not ready - just yet - to take on the learning curve to achieve a LEED rated silver, gold or platinum certification, you can take away some of the principles and practices. These can go along way in making your existing home or garage more green.

10 Ways to Think Green When Building Your Garage

When deciding on building materials for your garage think green and look for:
  • 1) energy efficient windows and doors
  • 2) materials that are renewable & sustainable
  • 3) water efficiency
  • 4) insulative materials with a high R-value
  • 5) light timers and sensors
  • 6) low-impact materials
  • 7) low- or no-VOC paints
  • 8) durable materials
  • 9) buy locally
  • 10) solar design
Add to that good building practices and waste reduction methods and you are taking a giant step toward minimizing your carbon footprint when you build.
Attached Garage
There is more of a demand for homes with attached garages in regions that experience long winters with a lot of snow. However, when extra care is taken in building the garage a home's indoor air quality can be preserved. All gaps, cracks and joist bays have got to be meticulously caulked and sealed, the service door from the garage to the house must be weather-stripped, and the ceilings and walls should be painted. Rooms that are above or beside the garage need to have carbon monoxide (CO) detectors.
Beyond protecting your home from toxic transfers, your garage itself ought to have adequate ventilation to exhaust bad air. Such exhaust fans can be set up with a timer control. It can then be set for an hour or so to clear the air while your lawn mower or vehicle cools down. Exhaust fans can also be wired to come on with the garage door opening.

Carport Style Garage

Carport Syle Garage

Indoor Environmental Quality is preserved by an open carport because car exhaust fumes are not being captured and held for easy entry into the home. Additionally, open carports use less materials and resources, which in turn results in less material waste. Further, by creating a smaller footprint a carport has less of an impact on the site than a full garage with a foundation and poured concrete floor. This falls under the category of sustainable sites on the LEED for Homes program.

For a more solid looking street presence one side of the carport can be sided, and even have windows added, to match the home and to give the illusion of an enclosed garage.

Garage Attached With a Breezeway

Garage with a Breezeway
An attached breezeway between your garage and home is a brilliant solution that is practical and offers some visual interest and symmetry. The breezeway allows a sheltered passage for those exiting the garage, which is perfect for rainy or snowy climate areas. Moreover, this open link to the house is able to blow away pollutants that, in the case of an attached garage, would have had the chance to transfer when the service door between the house and the garage was opened.
Garage doors don't always have to face the road either. With the aid of a curved drive way, the garage door can open from the side or back end of the site. Then the road facing wall of the garage can be designed and finished to look like an extension to the house, rather than the head and mouth of a sleeping dragon.

Heated Garage/Workshops

Garages often double as workshops. Depending on your climate you may need to heat or cool your garage. The USGBC recommends against HVAC equipment and ductwork being in the garage. To make the heating an cooling that you use for your garage energy efficient your garage should be well insulated with a tight building envelope. Then make sure that it has a fan exhaust and is adequately ventilated for the kind of work you will do in it.

Is Your Old Refrigerator in the Garage?

How many of us do now, or have in the past used an old refrigerator in the garage to store extra food or beer? If the fridge is old chances are it is a big energy consumer. The idea of purchasing a new fridge is not just so that your kitchen looks updated. A new fridge should be an energy saving purchase that can cut your power bill. The latest ENERGY STARĀ® rated refrigerators use more than 60% less electricity than a fridge made before 1980. You are really defeating the purpose if you keep using the old fridge. Not only that, your older fridge may have to work even harder if your garage is not insulated. The moral of the story? Retire the old fridge from your garage, when it comes to food buy fresh and store less, and cool drinks only as you need them.

Water Reuse

A environmentally conscious way to conserve water consumption in the garage is to collect rain water from the roof of your garage in a rain barrel and use it for washing your car, pet grooming or cleaning your garage.

Garage Builders

Get help building your new garage from skilled building contractors. Ask your contractor about ways to build green, or ways to green up your existing garage!