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ELEMENTS OF SUSTAINABLE DESIGN

All decisions we make in design and materials affect the health of ourselves, our children, and the planet.

  • SIMPLE, NATURAL, SITE-SPECIFIC DESIGN
    • COLLABORATION WITH THE SITE AND NATURAL SYSTEMS
      • Imagine what the site would design for itself.
      • Leave the surrounding area more natural than before construction.
    • NATURAL STRUCTURES AND INTERIORS
      • Respect sun, earth, plants, and water. 
      • Design for full advantage of the sun.
      • Minimize electromagnetic radiation within buildings.
      • Use more natural materials and fewer chemicals.
    • APPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGY AND MATERIALS
      • Take advantage of local resources and craftsmanship.
      • Use energy-saving products.
      • Find out how, where, and with what each product is made.
      • Know how the product is installed, how long it lasts, and how it can be reused and recycled.
      • Know how much energy it takes to transport, maintain, and use each product.
      • Be aware of the effect each product will make on nearby living beings.
  • ENERGY CONSERVATION
    • PASSIVE SOLAR DESIGN
      • Place spaces where the sun can warm them. 
      • Use house elements as thermal storage to balance heating.
    • NATURAL, LOW-ENERGY LIGHTING
      • Use natural light to decrease electricity and add dimension to all rooms.
      • Light spaces with minimum wattage.
      • Decrease energy usage with warm, natural-colored fluorescent lighting fixtures.
      • Use task lighting in work areas.
    • NATURAL HEATING AND COOLING
      • Provide natural, even heat, and lower thermostat settings, with radiant hydronic slab heating.
      • Construct for low heat loss.
      • Use natural breezes to build thermal mass and passive cooling. 
      • Design outdoor rooms. 
      • Invest in high-quality windows and doors.
  • HEALTHY INTERIOR ENVIRONMENTS
    • THE BREATHING HOUSE
      • Construct houses that both insulate and breathe. 
      • Use heat recovery ventilation systems to save heat and moisture.
    • NATURAL MATERIALS AND HEALTHY INTERIORS
      • Make sure interior construction materials and finish systems are alive and breathing, instead of plastic and dead.
      • Use wood, stone, earth, brick, grasses, cork, recycled tile and vegetable oils. Do not use plastic, chemicals, or toxins.
      • Instead of wall-to-wall carpet and vinyl flooring, use natural flooring and area rugs.
      • Use natural, non-toxic, and low VOC (volatile organic compound) paints and sealers.
      • Avoid non-renewable and environmentally damaging materials, like CFC foams and particle board.
    • NATURAL INDOOR SETTINGS
      • Use interior plants to remove toxins from the air and provide fresh oxygen.
      • Add interior water environments, which provide relaxing sounds and essential moisture.
    • ELECTRONIC MAGNETIC FIELDS
      • Explore the effects of electrical layouts on personal health.
      • Eliminate high electric loads in relaxing and sleeping areas.
      • Control electric wiring by switching off sleeping areas at night.
  • SUSTAINABLE MATERIALS
    • ENGINEERED WOOD
      • Use structural elements manufactured with a minimum amount of high-grade wood.
    • SUSTAINABLE LUMBER
      • Use certified sustainable lumber.
      • Use fast-growing materials like bamboo flooring.
    • RE-USED WOOD
      • Use re-cut lumber from recently dismantled buildings.
    • RECYCLED MANUFACTURED MATERIALS
      • Use materials manufactured with a high recycled content.
    • LONG-LIFE AND LOW-MAINTENANCE MATERIALS
      • Use materials that last, with minimum or no maintenance costs.
    • LOW-ENERGY MATERIALS
      • Use materials that require minimal energy to manufacture, transport, and grow.
    • RECYCLED AND ALTERNATIVE CONSTRUCTION SYSTEMS
      • Straw-bale construction.
      • Cob (straw and earth) construction.
      • Recycled ICF wall construction.
      • Pre-fabricated panel wall & roof systems.
      • Post and beam construction.
      • Construction methods that the owner can use to build the home themselves.

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