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Each April we celebrate Earth Day, learning about and rededicating ourselves to living sustainably. According to popular definition, sustainability is the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. True sustainability is in the overlap between meeting people’s needs, while preserving the planet and maintaining economic prosperity, now and into the future. This is often referred to as serving the “3 P’s” — people, planet and prosperity.
We seldom think of our homes as an opportunity to make a difference in the health of the planet. The truth is, our homes consume a significant amount of energy and water, and other resources and we can make a difference.
Let’s look at some of the elements that make up a sustainable home.
Design. Home is where people build their lives and develop a lifestyle that fulfills their needs and hopefully their dreams. It makes sense that our homes should make us happy, allow us to breathe easy, give us views of nature, bring in plenty of daylight, and make us healthier and more productive. Trends are showing increasing preference for smaller but better designed homes — this means architectural and interior design are becoming increasingly important for better living. Sustainable living, energy efficiency, water conservation, all start with good design. Even when remodeling or retrofitting an existing home, starting with good design is critical.
Energy. Every home requires energy to operate, but with today’s design standards and construction technology, homes can be built or retrofitted to use half the energy consumed by most conventional homes. For homes that are energy efficient, it is very cost effective to add renewable energy (usually in the form of solar power) to generate enough electricity to provide all the power the home needs. A home that generates as much or more energy than it uses is a Net Zero Energy Home. Many Las Crucens already have achieved net zero energy in their homes. By doing so, they have reduced energy consumption by approximately the equivalent of taking two cars off the road.
Water. Water is essential for life. Just about very community on the planet is facing the need to conserve and manage their water supplies, and that is especially true in the desert Southwest. There are very practical steps we can all take to reduce our consumption of water without making drastic changes in lifestyle. First, we can assure the proper water pressure coming into our homes, and check for leaks, either inside or outside. Many gallons of water are wasted through leaks in water faucets, toilets and irrigation systems. Water saving shower heads and toilets can save many gallons more. And for those who love lush and verdant landscaping, using careful design to capture and channel rainwater and native, drought-tolerant plants will save water and result in a gorgeous yard.
Health. Poor indoor air in our homes can result in issues including irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, headaches, dizziness, allergies, respiratory problems, and other, often serious, health problems. Many people aren’t even aware that the some materials used in homes can put harmful gases into the air. Poorly constructed homes often have moisture issues which can lead to mold and other problems. Poorly maintained heating and cooling systems can also compromise indoor air quality. A home that negatively impacts the health of those who live there is not sustainable. Properly trained construction or mechanical professionals can alleviate many of these problems.
Location. While it’s not feasible to change an existing home’s location (unless it is a tiny house or mobile home), there are new ideas about choosing homes closer to where people most want to be, and designing neighborhoods to maximize enjoyment and quality of life. The U.S. Green Building Council has developed standards for neighborhood development based on the following questions:
- Is your local grocery store within walking distance … and is there a sidewalk for you to trek there safely?
- Does your neighborhood boast high-performing green buildings, parks and green space?
- Do bikes, pedestrians and vehicles play nicely together on the road?
Addressing these questions to improve both existing and future neighborhoods will improve sustainability and quality of life. Choosing the right location to live can save time, money and carbon emissions by reducing the number and distance of trips by car.
Affordability. A sustainable home is one that is affordable for the people who live there. Affordability includes not only the purchase price or the monthly mortgage (or rent) payments, but also the cost of living in and operating the home on an ongoing basis. That includes the cost of energy (electricity, natural gas, etc.), water, ongoing maintenance requirements, commuting costs, and the cost of health issues that may be created or exacerbated by poor indoor air quality. A home may seem affordable based on its acquisition price, but can quickly get out of hand if the costs associated with living there are excessive. It is important to weigh all of these costs when choosing a home.
Legacy. For the most part, we humans are wired to want the best for our kids, grandkids and all future generations. Many people are concerned about the legacy they will leave for the future, and want to leave the earth in the same or better shape so that people will be able to enjoy good quality of life for years to come.
A sustainable home is one that meets the needs and goals of its residents today, while preserving water, energy, and other natural resources for future generations. The good news is … any home can be made to be more sustainable. That means better outcomes for people, planet and prosperity.
Renee Frank is an EcoBroker with certifications in energy efficient and environmentally responsible features of real estate. She may be reached at email@example.com or 575-496-7727. Read her blog at smartlivinglc.com.
Source : https://www.lcsun-news.com/story/news/local/2018/04/22/home-green-how-make-your-home-more-sustainable/521521002/