There are several aspects to the process of building a sustainable home and it’s much more than simply choosing the best materials.

Other considerations must be taken into account even before the planning and design phase if a structure such as a house can be considered truly sustainable. However, like most other building efforts, even sustainable home building is subject to some adjustments and design compromises.

Ultimately, a sustainable building or structure will incorporate the best available aspects of design, location, construction, and materials that are within the constraints of the project’s budget and geographic location.

Sustainable home building

Pursuing Sustainability in Home Construction

There is, today, a growing body of literature and information on the topic of green or sustainable building. In fact, for the novice – especially a homeowner as builder – the wealth of data and content can be overwhelming. 

Simply put, the commonly accepted goal of a green, or sustainable, building is to reduce its overall impact on human health and the natural environment. And these objectives are addressed by efficiently using energy, water, and other resources, by supporting the health of occupants, and by reducing waste, pollution, and environmental degradation.

In an ideal pre-construction planning environment, several key factors are typically addressed. These include the following:

  • Siting and structure design efficiency
  • Energy efficiency
  • Water efficiency
  • Materials efficiency
  • Indoor environmental quality enhancement
  • Operations and maintenance optimization

While these concepts are fully developed and incorporated into the planning and design of most sustainable commercial structures, they are applicable on a smaller scale to a sustainable house building project, as well. 

They can be thought of as ensuring the optimum location for the home as well as the best design for environmental considerations, how energy and water usage will be optimized, what materials will be best suited for the design as well as for sustainability, and how the design can make for the best indoor environment for the homeowners.

In addition, just as with a commercial building, there will be best practices for functioning in and maintaining the home. Or, as one source put it,

“No matter how sustainable a building may have been in its design and construction, it can only remain so if it is operated responsibly and maintained properly.”

Sustainable Home Building for the Rest of Us

The reality is that a sustainable or green building may not ever be perfectly ideal or 100 percent “sustainable” in its design or in the composition of its building materials. However, the real goal on a pragmatic level is to come as close as possible within the restraints or limitations present.

For example, certain building materials are considered to be far more sustainable than others, but may not be suitable for the design or the climate. They could also be beyond the limits of the builder’s budget or simply not readily available.

Consider residential flooring: choices of sustainable materials can include cork, bamboo, or Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified lumber products. The costs and availability of any of these flooring products vary which may be a deciding factor in itself. And this is even more so when considering salvaged wood planks, for example.

And the list goes on.

There are the walls and ceilings, roofing and exterior cladding, paint and caulking materials, wood and millwork, glass and insulation, and all of the fixtures and other components. 

Working to ensure that each and every element of your homebuilding project is truly and 100 percent sustainable can be far more than just challenging – it can be almost impossible at times. However, this does not negate the overall quality and efficiency of the home. 

In some ways, sustainable home building is analogous to a Zero Waste initiative – we can certainly come quite close but will probably never achieve it 100 percent. 

One other important factor in the sustainable home building arena is the continuing growth and development of green, sustainable technology and resources. Innovation is at the heart of sustainability practices and design and construction enhancements can be integrated over time, if desired.

A Construction Consultant Can Be a Valuable Asset for Sustainable Building

Building sustainable homes is a far preferable approach to residential construction and it is gaining in popularity among homeowner builders and many residential contractors.

While there are plenty of guidelines, certifications, and a wealth of information available for builders, enlisting the help of an experienced and knowledgeable consultant is always a wise investment. 

A construction consultant who is adept with sustainable building practices can simplify the process for homeowners and contractors, while explaining the complexities of pursuing a green and sustainable construction project.

An experienced construction consultant can guide you in all the phases of your project and answer questions that may come up along the way.

Whether you’re a contractor about to build a home, a homeowner planning to build your own home or an addition, or a business owner who wants to create a more sustainable facility, investing in sustainability consulting will benefit you.

A sustainable building construction consultant can provide input and direction for your project, whether it is for new construction, retrofitting for energy efficiency, or simply adding or upgrading energy saving components.

To learn more, email us at or give us a call at (707) 865-5157.


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