A sustainable house must be marketable to be practical and fulfill its intent. More is not always better. There is always a point of diminishing return. Alternative building systems and component products should be evaluated and compared using the following considerations:
Life-cycle cost-effective: Consider not only initial cost but also operating costs (utility bills, supplies), maintenance costs and risk management benefits (loss prevention) over the life of the product or structure. Investments in durability and efficiency may cost more initially but less in the long run.
Locally available: The system or product, experienced installers and maintenance services should be available in your area or easily obtained. More and more products are readily available online.
Reduced labor or time: A building system, product or technique that reduces labor or construction time (and interim financing costs) can help offset higher costs. Remember that doing anything different for the first time involves a learning curve for the contractor and labor crew. This typically results in more time needed and higher costs than when workers are experienced with a system.
Market value: Building systems and products selected should not reduce the market appeal of the home. If something appears unattractive, inconvenient or odd to mainstream consumers, the home’s market value will suffer.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture