Consider Building or Upgrading to a Sustainable Home

Whether you are building your dream home or upgrading your existing home, sustainability should be one of your top priorities.

A sustainable home efficiently uses resources, energy and materials to reduce your environmental footprint.

When building from scratch, consider the direction the home is facing, with the largest surface areas east and west to keep internal temperatures stable and south-facing windows to increase natural light. South-facing is also optimal for solar panels.

Whether you are upgrading or building, here are a few things to consider:

Recycled materials

Recycled building materials reduce the environmental impact associated with traditional materials, which use more resources and energy when created and end up in landfills.

Consider using reclaimed wood or brick, rubber slate or recycled asphalt shingles and recycled glass. If recycled materials aren’t available, opt for locally sourced and recyclable materials.

Energy-efficient doors & windows

In sustainable homes, high-performance doors and windows are paramount. Fiberglass doors are best for exterior doors. For windows, Low-E and/or double-glazed glass is best. For colder climates, triple-glazed windows retain heat better. Look for Energy Star certified options.

Solar panels

The sun is a wonderful source of energy, and solar panels coupled with a battery backup system mean energy can be stored to make your home self-sufficient, even during power outages.

Another option is solar panels along with an electricity grid, using solar power when the sun is out and grid power when it’s not.

Solar panels can be relatively easy to install and represent significant long-term savings. Best of all, the cost has gone down significantly thanks to technological advances.

Grey water

Grey water, wastewater from showers, bathtubs and laundry, can be redirected into a filtration process to remove such debris as hair, lint and chemical pollutants. Once filtered, grey water can be used for drip irrigation.


A sustainable home should use high-quality, high-efficiency insulation. Familiarize yourself with the R value, or the resistance rating, of insulation — the higher the R value, the more insulation.

Smart thermostat

Smart home technology, especially the smart thermostat, is arguably the most important addition to a sustainable home. Smart thermostats help control overall energy usage by adapting and optimizing heating and cooling.

Additional options include eco-friendly appliances, LED light bulbs, a compost bin and natural household cleaners.

You may want to plant a garden to benefit the environment and your health. Optimize your garden for low-water usage for the best results.

Creating a sustainable home doesn’t happen overnight. The first step is being aware of the environmental impact of your home and then making well-informed decisions. Remember, no change is too small, and it’s never too late to get started creating a sustainable environment for you and your family.

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