Q:     What are the characteristics of a high performing home?


A:  Characteristics of sustainable homes:

1.  Consume less energy and water.

2.  Easy to maintain and are healthy and comfortable to live in.

3.  Design approach is smart and innovative.

4.  Reduces your carbon footprint on earth while improving the quality of your life.

Our homes are our retreats, our own oasis.  They represent our values and our lifestyles.  They reflect our quest for comfort, quality, and durability. 

Our added awareness of the world and its natural resources around us bring green and sustainable methodologies into the forefront of our decision-making.

As a homeowner who may be venturing into projects ranging from a small addition to an existing home, to a new custom home, these concepts may seem hard to implement.

Small changes in the way we design and construct our spaces can lead to big changes with a positive environmental impact that we hope to achieve.



1. Need versus Want

This truly is the essence of any remodel conversation.  Addressing our needs before our wants defines the scope and ultimately the cost of the project.  Adding square footage without addressing what is it that we are actually missing is the root cause of our discontentment with the spaces in our homes.  Recognizing and identifying this basic need is one of the most effective ways to derive greater satisfaction from any project renovation.

2. Architectural Elements

As we identify spaces that we lack or need to reconfigure, our attention tends to be focused on the end product and we forget the significance of how early design decisions, such as solar and wind orientation, natural lighting, and ventilation affect our eventual comfort.  Making good decisions right at the start of the design process influences not only the quality of our spaces but also their recurring maintenance cost.

3.  Simple Systems

The essence of a well designed home is one wherein systems that support it are easy to maintain and contribute to a better quality indoors.  Good air quality is a great example.  Studies have shown a direct impact of indoor air quality upon the cognitive performance of its occupants.  Although upfront costs of our heating and cooling systems may seem initially high, the hidden and long-term benefits of investing in energy-wise choices not only protects the health and overall wellness of your family but also gives you a greater return on our investment in the long run.

4. Construction Methodology

A significant part of a well executed remodel is a well-constructed home.  Conducting home performance tests to ensure that we are getting a good quality product that is safe and efficient is critical.  Common yet effective examples of such tests are the Blower door test and Air flow test.  These tests determine how tightly sealed a construction is built to effectively minimize loss of energy.

5. Finished Products

As increasing design choices hit the market, we as consumers need to start asking more pertinent questions to know how these materials truly affect the quality of our homes and our health.  Selecting finishes that are safe to live with and are good to the earth are key qualities to seek.  Common finishes that have the most significant impact on indoor air quality are paints, carpets, and cabinetry.  For example, when choosing paint, you want to know if it is lead-based as that can lead to poisoning and health problems.  There are healthier and natural alternatives to your design needs that support the planet and your health.