Recycled-glass countertops, insulating wall systems, and non-toxic interior paint may have important roles to play in the building of your next home, but don't forget that every sustainable home begins with a green design. Choosing a home plan designed with green features, meaning with adequate natural lighting and ventilation, environmentally conscious materials, a modest size and footprint, is the foundational decision in the building of a comfortable, sustainable home.
Here are some specific criteria that we use when evaluating which plans deserve to be called green.
Value Engineering and Compact Footprint
Plans with simple exterior walls with few corners, bays, or protrusions use less construction material, which reduces costs, waste, and labor. A smaller home also uses less energy to heat and cool, requires fewer resources (including land) to build, and is more affordable to build and maintain.
Flexible, Hard-Working Spaces
Choosing the right plan can eliminate the need to move as your household grows or shrinks. Plans with bonus rooms that accommodate later expansion fit the bill. Having the master suite and main living spaces on the first floor keeps the house accessible so you can age in place.
Passive Heating Potential
Look for large walls of windows to take advantage of passive solar heating if the home is properly sited. Similarly, well-placed roof overhangs can provide energy-saving shade.
Green from the Drawing Board
Some plans go above and beyond by specifying materials and/or building practices to acheive a home that can be certified green. These designs may be accompanied by photos of finished, certified homes.