Sustainable Design Principles


There are a few major sustainability principles to follow when constructing or remodeling a home or business.

  1. Design with future remodels in mind.  The easier it is to remodel the building in the future, the less material waste and labor energy will be expended in the future thereby making the project inherently more sustainable.
  2.  Design to minimize energy consumption
  3. Select Non-toxic building Materials especially on interiors
  4. Design using high energy materials for long term uses. Materials such as aluminum, Plastics, Steel, and fiberglass take large amounts of energy to produce respectively.  Use these materials on ways that will last.
  5. Design for the very long term. Don' t think in terms of how many years a building will last, think in terms of how many centuriesor millenia a building will last.
  6. Design with ease of maintenance in mind
  7. Design with future energy sources, energy needs, and communication needs in mind.  Allow for simple retrofitting to change technologies.
  8. Maximize the use of low embodied energy Materials. The lowest embodied energy materials are depending on local availability, Cobb,(other earthen structures) Strawbale, wood, Brick, Integrated Concrete forms and concrete respectively.  Always balance a materials embodied energy with its longevity and energy saving potential.
  9. Design with all parties at the table in the beginning of the project.  Having all the professionals who will be involved in all stages of the design and building and use phases of building in the planning phase will minimze wasteful design flaws and conflicts among trades.
  10. Design with future sustainable modes of transportation in mind.  Mostly we don't think that we can impact this area, but there are many steps that can be taken.  Where you chose to develop is critical and obvious, but there are less obvious things that can be done.  For example, a solar array can be over sized and a high voltage charging circuit can be included in the garage to accommodate for fast charging of a plug-in-hybrid or electric car.  Buildings can be oriented to favor walking, biking and talking with neighbors.
  11.  Create edible, water conserving, wildlife enhancing and green gas offsetting landscapes.  In sustainable building circles, landscapes are often thought of as only places to save water.  Landscapes are the intersection between buildings and the natural environment.  The more we can use landscapes to provide for the occupants and the ecosystem, local and global, the more we learn to reintegrate our society back into the natural world.  With the projected urbanization of the planet it is critical to create links to nature and how it provides for us.  Whenever possible include edible plants in the landscape, include natives and high carbon offsetting plants like evergreens and broadleaf plants.  Use plants that provide food and habitat for local wildlife.  Consider planting trees and shrubs that can be used as fuel and fiber.
  12. The bottom line think about the future use of the building and do your best to create something that lasts, promotes occupant health/happiness andminimizes energy consumption and waste production.