Sustainable construction looks at the impact of a building over its entire lifetime, while optimizing its economic viability, performance and functionality. Standard building practices are often guided only by initial cost considerations. Sustainable construction uses best practices which emphasize long-term operating and maintenance costs.
At each stage of the life-cycle, sustainable buildings seek to increase efficiency, improve health and comfort, conserve resources and reduce waste. The term is frequently used interchangeably with green construction and considers the impact construction has on the economic, environmental and social aspects of the occupants and community. For the purposes of this section, we'll address the selection of amenities, features and systems that contribute to the comfort, durability, efficiency, health and maintenance of a home. When should you consider investing in upgrades and how will they impact the short-term and long-term costs.
If you haven't yet selected your property, consider issues we address in our section on Property Evaluation. For every piece of property there are characteristics that can contribute to the efficiency and durability of the structure. Passive solar design, prevailing breezes, existing vegetation and drainage patterns should all be considered during the design phase. In most cases there is no additional cost associated with these decisions, but substantial savings and benefits that can be gained.
The most likely benefits available from site development include durability and environmental. Planning drainage away from the structure that is captured on the property reduces moisture and potential termite infestation, while collecting rain water runoff reduces sediments and can be used as irrigation.
Florida-friendly landscaping and irrigation design can be managed without extra cost, while reducing the need for irrigation and requiring less maintenance. The cost of a rain water collection system might be offset over time by a reduction of irrigation water as well. Zoning the irrigation system to provide just the right amount of water as needed, can save water as well. Additional information is available at Water Conservation.
Reducing the demand for energy and increasing the efficiency of the systems within the home are sure ways to reduce operating costs. Design can have a major impact on the efficiency of the structure at little or no cost but the most benefit comes from starting as early as possible in the process. See our recommendations on our Energy Efficient Design section.
Adaptable DesignAdaptable Design refers to the ability of a home to suit multiple and changing needs of its occupants. As a family grows or ages, their needs for space and functionality evolve. There are several considerations related to the specific needs of a family but also to the changing demographics of what defines a family and the occupants of a home.
Fads come and go, so it's important to avoid being too trendy with design and product selection. Enduring appeal often has its roots in vernacular designs of a region, hence by looking to styles of the past, we can often find what may maintain its appeal in the future.
Construction methods and materials can have a long-term effect on the durability and maintenance requirements of a home. Most products and systems have up-front and long-term costs that should be compared before making buying decisions. Attention to details in design and construction can prevent future problems and allow a home to maintain it's value over time.
Comfort and Health
Operations and Maintenance