Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Top 10 Green Things to Do! When building your new home.

In my real job (non-blogging) I am finding that more and more people are interested in building a more environmentally responsible and healthy home.  Leaving political discussions and arguments about “climate change” behind (I don’t like being preached to and I don’t like preaching), I believe there are many common sense reasons to build a “Green” home.  Here are two pretty good ones:

  • Save you money $$$ in the long run
  • Reduce your stress level – improve your quality of life

If you want to build a Green Home there is an abundant amount of information available to you.  But start investigating Green and you begin to realize there can be a daunting number of decisions to make – and they all impact your construction budget in some way.  Building Green can start to look incredibly complicated and expensive - and neither of these notions is inherently “Green”.  Well it does not have to work that way.

So what I want to do, starting with this posting is to help you simplify things.  I am starting out with a top 10 list of green things to do.  This will give us some focus for more detailed discussions to follow.  Those discussions will provide more detail on my top 10 list.  So here goes.

Top 10 Green Things to do! – When building your new home.

  1. Hire an Architect or a very competent designer that understands “Green” (and is not a jerk) – They will be able to assist you with all the following items and help you in sorting out priorities.
  2. Hire a Builder who is committed to your Green house (and isn’t a jerk).  In the end you will be much more successful if your entire team is on the same page.
  3. Build close to your work and / or close to community services.  A short commute means less stress, less gas money and more time for your fam.  That’s good isn’t it?
  4. Build a “just the right size” house – The classic “Goldilocks”.  Size and surface area significantly impact heating, cooling and maintenance costs – not to mention construction cost.  So don’t build too big.  But don’t build it too small either or it might not be functional and that’s not green.
  5. Build a home with quality.  Remember the 3 little pigs?  A quality home lasts longer, costs less to maintain and definitely holds up better when the big bad wolf is blowing.  Ok, that’s enough of the kid stories. 
  6. Build a thermally efficient home.  Warm is good.  Believe me, I am writing this on a 20 degree below zero day in Minnesota.  I have relatives in Phoenix that say Cool is good!  Thermally efficient also means less money from your pocket to the local Utility.
  7. Use an energy efficient Heating, Ventilation and Cooling (HVAC) system. You don’t have to spend many dollars here to reap some good $$$ savings.
  8. Develop a landscape plan that reduces erosion and water use. Who wants to spend the entire weekend mowing and watering?  I’d rather be playing Guitar Hero, or Twittering or something.
  9. Consider your homes building product and material choices.If it smells bad don’t use it.  You are going to be married to that floor for a long time.
  10. Install energy efficient appliances and electrical (lighting) systems.  Once again small investment for good gains.

So that’s my Top 10 Green Things to Do list.  You may notice that I don’t specifically mention solar panels, photo-voltaics or geo-thermal systems.  Well those items might be a great addition to an overall sustainable building plan, but the initial costs are high and the payback is longer.  I’ll discuss more in future postings.

By the way, if you want to buy a “green” house plan that you can build.  You might start at Simply Elegant Home Designs.  All of the plans in their portfolio have been designed keeping many of the green principals listed above in mind.


  1. LEED Certificantion would also be quite helpful.

  2. I don't see Leed certification as one of those "common sense" green things to do. Certification with Leed involves an involved process that is inherently not green.

  3. I quess that's a pretty good starting point but I think a bit more focus on HVAC, water heating, window design and insulation would be helpful.

  4. Building a house is a complicated project and utilizes dozens of subcontractors, workers and suppliers. Building or supervising a construction project requires a minimum of knowledge, but equally important, a tried-and-true method. Keep in mind that home design, plans and homebuilding can be quite time consuming, and may be quite a strain on you and your family if you try to do too much yourself. It is a big job in itself just to do the new home plans, oversee construction and deal with the numerous, sometimes complex, situations involved in home designs and house building. Plans for every aspect of building your home is the key to a successful project.


  5. Common Sense is King when it comes to Affordable Sustainability. That's one thing the folks at LEED seem to lack sometimes. Keep up the good work SimplyElegant, As far as I'm Concerned, you're right on target.

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