Make Your Home Sustainable by Design

Sustainable architecture has been developed over the last 50 years to reduce the impact of the built environment on the natural environment, with many advances in energy and water efficiency, solar energy generation and use of nonharmful materials.

The movement has progressed into pursuit of net-zero energy homes and regenerative architecture.

Custom-built or renovated homes can integrate many principles of sustainable architecture that can maintain or even amplify a luxurious lifestyle by improving the world in which they exist.

Recycled or renewable materials

Once you’ve decided to build such a home, choose a builder open to using recycled, recyclable and renewable products including stone, rammed earth, bamboo, cork, recycled glass, plastic and steel, and alternatives to traditional concrete made with organic substances like ash or hemp.

Look for local sources of everything you use, starting with what’s already on your property. If you’re tearing down an existing structure reuse as much of its material as possible or consider if any of it has an adaptive reuse.

Net-zero living

You can radically downsize your carbon footprint with a house that generates as much or more energy as it takes off the grid, achievable by reducing power needs along with generating new power.

Orient the house to take advantage of natural light, wind patterns and the position of the sun for installation of solar panels.

Prioritize efficiency with your insulation and windows, and choose low-demand appliances and an HVAC system that relies on geothermal heat pumps, “green” air conditioning using desiccant or other sources not reliant on fossil fuels.

Staying afloat

Your home can become part of the solution instead of just another drain on our water supply by capturing rainwater and snowmelt for landscape gardening, along with “gray” water from showers, sinks, bathtubs and washing machines.

You’re probably already planning on low-flow showerheads and toilets, but you can go much further with a builder who can give you a WaterSense-certified house (equivalent to EnergyStar certification for power) that uses at least 30% less water than comparable structures without compromising on performance.

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