5 Sustainable Home Design Trends You Don’t Want to Miss

Sustainable home designs provide environmentally friendly solutions in high-performing spaces. Architects all over the world are adjusting their methods in response to climate change and providing design-savvy, green options for clients. With clever planning and a focus on conscious consumer choices, it’s possible to offer trendy solutions that also check all the boxes for functionality and sustainability. Sustainable design solutions help conserve resources, protect homes from natural disasters and build healthier lives. 

Read on to see five of the biggest movements in sustainable design.

Sustainability is an investment in the health of your home and the planet. More than just using eco-friendly materials, it’s a movement powered by making mindful choices. Get ideas and inspiration for beautiful, sustainable design options by reading on.

The Crackle Tile line by Kohler is a great example of beautiful, sustainable home design.
Crackle Tile Collection by Kohler WasteLAB

1. Recycled Materials

Repurposed or upcycled goods can be used in many areas, for both functional and design purposes. Instead of heading for the landfill, “waste” materials become the base for creating all new beautiful, design-savvy products. This reduces production waste and cuts down on potential sources of pollution, such as mining for resources.

One great example is the Crackle Tile line by Kohler. It has both stylish color patterns and a fantastic backstory. Their products are created from repurposed materials, such as builder’s clay or ceramic shavings, to make a one-of-a-kind product. Available in a range of tones and sizes, these tiles are a wonderful addition to any eco-conscious design.

According to the EPA, we can all use at least 20 percent less water by installing water-efficient fixtures and appliances.

2. Water Conservation

Cutting down on water use starts at the source, with EnergyStar certified appliances and mindful buying habits. Conserving water is a cornerstone of sustainable home design, and preserving water is one of the biggest topics in environmentalism. A quick look at the numbers makes it easy to see why. According to the EPA, household leaks alone can waste nearly 900 billion gallons of water nationwide each year.

There are many technologies and systems on the market today that help detect and prevent leaks and potentially catastrophic water damage. Read more about these and other smart home systems – including a system with the potential to recycle up to 85% of a home’s water consumption! – on our blog.

Another great way to conserve water at home is to install a hot water recirculating system. According to numbers from the US Department of Energy and the US Census Bureau, we waste between 400 billion and 1.3 trillion gallons of water nationwide each year while waiting for the water to heat up. Hot water recirculating systems prevent this by providing hot water as soon as you open the tap. There are many options available, so you’ll need to do some research to find the right one for your home. Set up correctly, the right system will save time, energy and a significant amount of water.

Focusing on indoor air quality is extremely important, especially as houses are built to be increasingly air tight. According to the EPA, indoor air may have two to five times higher levels of pollution than the air outside.

3. Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality has a huge influence on your health and quality of life. Whether it’s the air you and your family breathe every day at home, or at the office, paying attention to indoor air quality can directly impact your health. Imagine you have a family member with severe allergies. What if the indoor air quality in your home was good enough to minimize or even prevent symptoms?

Advances in building technology make that possible, while also promoting sustainability through energy savings. Proper planning during the design phase is necessary to achieve the best ventilation. Here are some ideas to consider:

Sustainable Ventilation

Sustainable ventilation, such as orienting building plans for the most airflow, maximizes airflow while minimizing heat loss for eco-friendly designs and is a necessity for LEED certification. 

Energy Recovery Ventilators

Energy Recovery Ventilators – often called ERVs – are a smart way to bring fresh air inside the home while maintaining healthy indoor air quality. ERV systems connect to the HVAC ducts and consist of 2 fans. One fan draws clean, fresh air into the home while the other removes stale air by pushing it outside.

Building Materials

Nontoxic building and construction materials offer an alternative to conventional building materials that are full of formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Materials that contain these invisible toxins can off-gas for months or years, polluting the air inside your home. Read more about how rid your home of invisible toxins here.

Radon Mitigation

In areas where radon is common, test for radon and install a radon mitigation system if needed. Radon is a naturally occurring gas that comes from the soil. It’s odorless, colorless, and the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths in the US. Here in Colorado, about 50% of homes have radon levels that are higher than the EPA recommended level.

Other Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality

Indoor plants are a growing trend in interior design, and they can significantly improve air quality. They release oxygen and help to purify the air. Research by NASA shows plants remove toxins like formaldehyde and benzene, so breathing is easier.

The Passive House is a great example of sustainable home design
Designed by KGA, the Residence 8 Passive House was the first home built in the U.S. by a production home builder certified to meet the stringent requirements of the Passive House Institute U.S. Building Standard.

4. The Move Towards All-Electric Homes

Switching from natural gas to all-electric heating and appliances is another way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve indoor air quality. Currently, about 25% of homes in the U.S. are all-electric. In Colorado, Denver’s Climate Action, Resiliency and Sustainability office is in the process of trying to get the city to adopt their Net-Zero Energy New Buildings and Homes Implementation Plan. Under this plan, all new build homes would need to be net-zero energy and all-electric starting in 2024.

The plan includes renewable resource projects such as solar energy farms to provide green electricity and drastically reduce emissions. All-electric homes are the first step in “decarbonizing” daily life with workable alternatives to fossil fuels. Expenses for electricity and fuels would be cut and carbon emissions, as well as energy bills, would be radically lowered. Or, at least, that’s the goal. In states such as Colorado where natural gas is low-cost and affordable housing is scarce, operating costs and affordability create important questions that must be addressed.

Fiber cement siding is a good option to help protect your home because it is non-combustible, meaning it won’t ignite when exposed to a direct flame or contribute fuel to a fire.

5. Resilient Construction

Natural disasters and severe weather can play havoc on our homes, but it doesn’t need to be that way. Many architects, builders, and manufacturers are working to innovate and create disaster-ready dwellings. Whether it’s withstanding fire, high winds, floods, earthquakes, or whatever natural disaster is typical in your region; a disaster-ready home is a smart sustainable design choice since you’re drastically lowering your chances of needing to rebuild in the future. 

While no home can ever be absolutely 100% disaster proof, technology, materials and building practices have come a long way towards creating resilient homes. For example, products such as Cultured Stone have been shown to protect homes from fires. Similarly, fiber cement siding is non-combustible, so it won’t ignite when exposed to a direct flame or contribute fuel to a fire. Materials such as these will likely be a higher investment upfront, but the long term pay-offs are worthwhile if you can afford it. From greater peace of mind to lower maintenance exteriors, you and your family should reap the benefits for many years to come.

Buildings that Stand the Test of Time 

Sustainable, renewable materials throughout the home can add up to have a major positive environmental impact. Bamboo flooring, for example, does not contribute to deforestation and is a versatile product. Many designers are looking into methods to reclaim resources. The biggest trend in architecture is moving in the direction of sustainable, healthy buildings, which promote healthy inhabitants and are better for the planet. The quest for greener designs results in amazing innovations. 

New methods, materials, and designs use sustainable design principles to help cut down on the impact that they may have on the environment. There are more opportunities every day to bring sustainable design to our homes and workplaces. To get started on your sustainable home design, contact our team.

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