When we think of an issue as pressing and as significant as the environment and climate change, it can feel that we, as individuals, cannot do much, if anything, to make an impact. We can though – by reducing our impact. Home energy consumption accounts for about 20% of greenhouse gas emissions in the US. ENERGY STAR custom homes are at least 15% more efficient than other houses. We can make a difference… Home by home, and community by community. 

But that leaves a big question: How? Building a home is challenging enough; how do you incorporate green materials and methods?  

Using green building materials in your home build is easier than you think. Here are five tips to get you started towards sustainable, beautiful results:

Use Low VOC or Zero VOC Paints

No matter what your color palette, you can go green by opting for low VOC or zero VOC paint products. When you walk into a freshly painted room and give it a sniff, you may smell freshness, bold color, or a neutral canvas of possibilities. But what you are actually inhaling are volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These are carbon-based chemicals that evaporate into the air at room temperature. They can cause headache, nausea, dizziness, shortness of breath, irritation to the eyes and throat, exacerbate symptoms of asthma and other respiratory conditions, and over the long-term, they can even damage your kidneys and liver.

Low VOC paint has far less volatile organic compounds than other paints and zero VOC has still less (it’s not technically 0% but instead the designation means that these paints have levels lower than government regulations permit). This is an easy way to breathe a little easier in your new home, and with options from top manufacturers like Sherwin-Williams, Behr, and Benjamin Moore you have a world of beautiful colors, shades, tones, and hues at your fingertips.

green building materials
green building materials

Choose Energy Efficient Appliances

The biggest consumers of energy in your household are your heating and cooling system (47% of energy use), water heater (14%), washer and dryer (13%), lighting (12%), refrigerator (4%), oven (3-4%), and dishwasher (2%). By choosing ENERGY STAR rated appliances, you can save energy and cut costs without sacrificing a bit of performance or convenience. In fact, the average household can save $450 annually on their energy bills while comfortably reducing their carbon footprints.

More than 80,000 product models – ranging from refrigerators, ranges, and dishwashers to boilers, water heaters, and lightbulbs – bear the ENERGY STAR certification, meeting rigorous criteria. Given the wide availability, homeowners can select the products that make the most sense for their homes, their lives, and their styles without compromising quality, durability, or appearance.

Opt for Domestic Products and Supplies Whenever Possible

We know that buying local food (freshly picked from the farm across town or our own gardens, if possible!) not only tastes great but is more eco-friendly. It greatly reduces the number of miles your food travels to get to your plate – as well as the fossil fuels burned along its journey. Similar is true of domestic building products and supplies. Not only do these supplies and products have a shorter route from source to jobsite, they are made according to stricter federal and state environmental (and often safety) regulations.

While it is not always feasible or possible to source everything from domestic suppliers, making a concerted effort to do so is a big step towards a green home – and a greener future.

Specify Products and Supplies from Manufacturers with Green Practices

In the past five years, 85% of consumers have moved to buying products that are produced in sustainable ways. A recent SAP/Oxford Economics survey found that 42% of manufacturing executives say that sustainability is top of mind at all phases of their processes, compared to just 30% of execs from other industries. As more consumers demand green products and practices, more manufacturers and suppliers are stepping up to deliver.

Many names we already know and trust have committed to producing more sustainable products in more sustainable ways throughout all phases of a product’s life. Miele, LG, Samsung, Bosch, Whirlpool, and DuPont are among them. But other names, other companies, with which homeowners may be less familiar, also contribute by creating building supplies and materials that minimize environmental impact while maximizing your end results.

green building materials

Work with a Builder You Trust

Planning a home build is challenging; planning a home build that incorporates green materials, supplies, and methods can seem downright overwhelming. Work with an experienced builder you trust; they will help guide you through the process, help you make informed product/supply selections, and guide you in the right direction.

Among G&G Custom Homes owner Joe Garcia’s many designations are Certified Green Professional (CGP) and Master Certified Green Professional (MCGP). The company founded on his vision specializes in Green Certified Homes that meet (or exceed) the ANSI ICC700-2008 National Green Building Standard. Learn more here.

Our team has the experience, expertise, connections, and drive you need when planning and building a home that is not only elegant and comfortable but energy-efficient and convenient. From product and material selection to green building practices to efficiency you will enjoy year after year, our commitment is working with you, one on one, to ensure you are proud to call your house your forever home.

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