Sustainability Tips for Homebuilders and Their Clients
If you are even considering having a home built sustainably, or you are a homebuilder with a client interested in sustainability, set those internet floorplans aside and START HERE:
- NATURE’S AFFECTS ON THE SITE: Which way does the sun move across the sky and, therefore, what orientation will provide the home with the best solar access? Where does the wind predominantly blow from? How much rain or moisture does this particular microclimate receive? What are the median high and low temperatures throughout the year? START HERE FIRST!!!
- SITE FEATURES: What are the existing native landscape features and how can they be used and integrated into the overall design of the project? What are the views that we want to preserve and develop?
- NEEDS vs. WANTS: Now that you have done a complete assessment of the site, examine what your needs truly are, not what you think they are. The best way to build sustainably is not to overbuild. Ask, “What does my typical day look like from start to finish?”. Now you can design a home around that pattern. A talented designer (call Grant) can help you through this process and help you achieve a design that is even better than the one you got from the search engine.
- DESIGN SOLUTIONS: When finally selecting building products don’t simply look at numbers or read the manufacturer’s greenwashing verbage. Look beyond the product and look at how it is made, where it comes from, how far does it have to travel to get there, how much energy is involved in creating and using the product both before and after it arrives on-site.
- FINALLY: The landscape you create is even more important than the home itself when considering sustainability. Why? Because you have the potential, over the lifetime of the home, to mitigate and even negate the carbon footprint that the construction process created in the first place. Plants and trees clean the air, shade homes from the hot sun, break the cold winter wind, provide habitat for creatures big and small and have positive emotional and psychological effects on us. And if you can integrate rainwater harvesting into your design and irrigate the right plants and trees during the dry season with stored rainwater you will help to create a carbon neutral or even carbon negative residence. In this case, negative is positive!
REMEMBER, just because something is built green doesn’t necessarily mean it is sustainable, ESPECIALLY if you haven’t even considered the landscape it’s built in! And just because you use ‘green’ products in the home doesn’t mean you’ve built the most sustainable house you could have. Green walls, green roofs, smart irrigation, rainwater harvesting, proper planting, and drought tolerant native vegetation all add up to a sustainable solution.