Whether you are trying to minimize your carbon footprint, lower your energy bills, or invest in purchases that will withstand the test of time, sustainability is an important factor to consider in your home’s design – both inside and out. Here, we’ve gathered some of the top tips for designing, renovating, and furnishing a more sustainable home straight from our local experts.
Artech Design Group |Katie Pratt
Proper insulation can help reduce energy usage and save on heating and cooling costs, whether you are designing a new home or renovating an existing one. When designing a new home, it is important to make sure the home is properly insulated from the roof to the foundation. During the remodeling process, replacing outdated insulation materials is an excellent way to make older homes more energy efficient. Additionally, homes built before 1978 may still be insulated with asbestos, which can be very harmful and requires professional removal. Luckily, there are plenty of sustainable insulation materials that are produced with non-toxic chemicals and without practices that harm the environment.
HK Architects| Heidi Hefferlin
Building a sustainable home is good for everyone: the earth, your family, and your wallet. Select materials that are durable and sustainably made, thus reducing further resource consumption in replacement of materials, limiting embodied energy, and saving you time and money in maintenance. Improving your home’s envelope by upgrading your windows, insulation, wall materials, and roofing will reduce energy used in heating and cooling. Opt for LED lighting and high efficiency appliances. Ditch natural gas, and opt for electric heat pumps for air and water. Invest in smart home technology that will keep your energy usage down when you’re not home. Plant native plants in your landscaping. Use non-potable water for irrigation like rain harvesting or a greywater filtration system for your whole home.
A. Perry Homes | Kent DeReus
Working with a design-build firm that understands the best options available, which also provides the highest return on investment, is the most suitable way to service a sustainability-focused homeowner. We have found that the most practical or pragmatic solutions are also often the most sustainable. For example, high quality windows, spray foam insulation (especially on the vertical walls), and a high-efficiency furnace all help create a home that is sustainable, reduces utility bills, and is valuable for resale. We also value water-efficient fixtures and using natural and locally sourced materials in homes as much as possible. As a custom home builder, A. Perry Homes has had the privilege of creating homes with geothermal systems, radiant heating, solar panels, and more. Our job is to explain the options available, stay on top of available tax incentives, and allow clients to choose the solutions that suit them best.
Fowler Brothers Co. | Carter Fowler
The best tip for sustainability-focused homeowners when shopping for furniture is buy quality! A quality piece of furniture that is built with sustainable materials will last generations and never end up in a landfill. We see a lot of furniture these days that is truly disposable, but brands like Stickley Furniture have been building furniture in a sustainable manner since 1900. Not only do they build furniture from the finest solid wood materials available, they heat their factory with the sawdust from all of the cuttings – this is truly exceptional! The items that we buy well rather than often are the pieces we will cherish and pass down through the family. When I was in design school, one of my professors asked the class “What is the largest man-made structure in the United States?” The answer was the landfill off of Staten Island in New York. I imagine a lot of cheap furniture didn’t last and was literally thrown away. Always buy quality!