Whether you are building a new home or renovating your existing one, why not make it as sustainable as possible? Green home design supports a healthy lifestyle and raises your home’s value. You will also feel good knowing you’ve done the right thing for the planet and everyone on it.

There are so many green home ideas and products available today that choosing among them can get a little overwhelming. It can help to keep the following basic principles in mind when deciding on features for your green home:

Energy Efficiency

The biggest way you can improve your home’s environmental footprint is by reducing the amount of energy used for heating and cooling. Here are some energy-saving green design tips:

  • Smaller homes use less energy, so consider how much space you really need, and look for space-saving design features.
  • Choose a home site with natural energy-saving features. For instance, southern exposure is ideal for the way solar panels work.
  • Orient your home to take advantage of natural solar gain. For example, large south-facing windows can passively heat your home in the winter.
  • Insulate like crazy.
  • Air-seal and weatherize your home for maximum energy efficiency.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR label when choosing appliances.
  • Install energy-saving LED light bulbs.
  • Plant trees strategically to provide summer shade and winter wind protection.

Water Conservation

Water shortages are predicted to become a major worldwide problem this century. These green home design ideas can help you make the most of this increasingly precious resource:

  • Install low-flow toilets, showerheads and faucets.
  • When purchasing your dishwasher and washing machine, choose water-efficient units.
  • Purchase high-quality plumbing components and service them regularly to minimize leaks.
  • Thirty percent of residential water use nationwide takes place outdoors. Rain barrels, smart irrigation controllers and native landscaping can help minimize outdoor water use.

An added benefit to saving water is that you will also be saving energy. Less water used means less energy used to pump and heat it.

Green Materials

Choosing eco-friendly construction materials will help your home stay both green and healthy. Look for materials that are:

  • Locally produced
  • Recycled
  • Recyclable
  • Sustainably grown or produced
  • Repurposed
  • Non-toxic
  • Energy efficient

Home Design for a Sustainable Future

Finally, keep the “seventh generation” principle in mind when designing your green home. While not every element of your home can be expected to last seven generations, choosing materials and design ideas that will stand the test of time will result in less material going to the landfill and a lower eco footprint over the lifetime of your home.

It’s also smart to plan for future eco upgrades within your lifetime. For example, even if solar panels or an electric car don’t fit your budget now, designing your home to make future installation easy will save you money and expedite the installation process in the future.