It would be great if every project could integrate the complete bullet list of sustainable design features. However, while most private home and commercial project budgets can’t accommodate all of them, they can accommodate a handful. Knowing which features make the most economic sense will steer you in a direction that makes the most sense for your building.
Here is a list of five sustainable design features that will yield the best return on your investment.
- The home’s envelope. A tremendous amount of energy is lost through a building’s exterior walls and roof (the envelope) as the result of air leakage and/or heat gain and loss due to poor insulation. Building an air-tight home, with high-efficiency windows and doors and insulating as per the Energy Star recommendations saves a tremendous amount of energy.
- Building orientation. Heat loss and gain is directly related to building orientation. Buildings should be set with sun and wind exposure in mind.
- Passive green features. Things like building orientation, insulation and thermal mass are called “passive green features” because there’s no mechanical breakdown. These investments continue to pay off year after year.
- Solar thermal. Harnessing solar energy to heat the home is a great way to save energy and money on your utility bills. Tax incentives help to off-set the initial costs.
- Water efficiency. It hardly costs anything to install water-efficient fixtures and appliances that reduce your water consumption and conserve our most precious resource.