Benefits (and Criteria) of a Sustainable Home

Claudette Reichel  |  6/25/2008 2:52:44 AM

A “green” or “sustainable” home is not only resource-efficient and earth-friendly but also durable and healthy. That doesn’t have to mean costly or cumbersome. To be truly sustainable in the real world, homes also must be practical and convenient -- so they can be widely adopted in the marketplace. The goal is to integrate and balance the following criteria:


  • Energy efficiency -- tailored for a warm, humid climate to reduce utility bills, conserve energy resources and reduce pollution from burning fossil fuels to generate electricity
  • Water efficiency -- to stem the rising costs of treating drinking water and wastewater as well as reduce depletion of our aquifers
  • Waste management -- to reduce construction and household waste going to landfills
  • Pollution prevention -- to protect water quality and the ecosystem
  • Favoring “green,” renewable and local resources -- to use resources efficiently, conserve nonrenewable resources and stimulate the local economy


  • Decay resistance -- to control moisture and prevent deterioration
  • Multi-hazard resistance -- to resist damage from hurricanes, floods, fire, hail, etc.
  • Pest resistance -- to protect from Formosan subterranean termites and other damaging pests


  • Indoor air quality control -- to minimize health hazards such as mold, dust mites, combustion pollutants and other common indoor air contaminants
  • Integrated pest management -- to control pests and minimize use of pesticides
  • Universal design -- to provide a safe, functional, accessible and adaptable home that accommodates all ages and stages of the life cycle


  • Functional and family-friendly -- to provide for efficient work flows and family harmony
  • Low maintenance -- to reduce cost and time needed to maintain property value and appearance.
  • Advanced wiring -- for advances in the information age and to enable the home to serve as a satellite “telecommuting” office, reducing commuting time and energy.


  • Cost effective -- to save money in the long term with a lower lifecycle cost, considering operating costs, maintenance, longevity and loss prevention.
  • Available -- so contractors or consumers can buy and use it now.
  • Feasible -- new methods or technologies that offer a short learning curve or labor savings to address industry shortage of skilled labor and reduce the costs of making the change.
  • Marketable -- to preserve appeal to mainstream consumers.
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