Green = Sustainable

The principle of sustainability was first brought into popular use in 1987 in the United
Nations document Our Common Future, a report by the World Commission on Environment
and Development.  Sustainable development is defined as "servicing the needs of the
present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own".

Virtually synonymous expressions such as "green", "eco", "environmentally friendly" are
now in widespread use.  

Applying the underlying principal of minimal impact on the environment to residential
construction, two distinct phases should be considered
 a) design / construction
 b) occupation

During design, considerations include
    1) including thermally massive materials - to maintain heat in winter & cool in summer
    2) natural daylighting - large glazing faces pointing south, skylights, light tubes
    3) shading to complement the south-facing glazing, to allow it to be moderated
    
During construction, selecting materials with a low embodied energy (that require little
energy to extract / produce).  Referred to a minimizing the carbon footprint, it includes:
    1) use of "natural" substances, such as timber and clay
    2) local sources of material, thus reducing energy needed to transport         
    3) avoiding chemical finishes, which often require large amounts of energy to produce
    4) energy-star rated appliances
    5) insulation

During occupation, minimal reliance on non-renewable resources, including:  
   1) fresh water         dual flush toilets, low flow shower heads, reclaiming grey water
                                     xeroscaping (native drought-tolerant plants))
    2) electricity           photo-voltaic cells, solar hot water heating, daylighting
                                     fluorescent or LED light-bulbs)
   3) natural gas          insulation, sealing, double glazed low-E windows)
   4) landfills                recycle / compost waste,
                                     use re-claimed / re-cycled / salvaged materials)
   5) minimal toxins     VOCs (volatile organic compounds), moisture leading to mold)

There are, of course, inter-relationships between the actions must be taken during design
and construction in order to benefit during occupation.  If it all sounds somewhat
overwhelming, fear not.  There is no single optimum design for a sustainable home:  the
possibilities are endless and the prospects exciting.  Click on
WHERE DO I START, to allow
us to guide you through a progression that makes sense for your wallet and sensibilities.
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