Building Green: Trends Toward Sustainability

Normally when we talk about homes, we’re referring to real estate. But today we want to talk about a place that we all call home: the planet.


In honor of Earth Day, we thought we’d take the time to highlight some building trends that emphasize sustainability, attention to the environment, and green living. Because the thing is, we shouldn’t just care about the planet one day out of the year. Eco-friendly building practices are great because they allow for a continued relationship with sustainability. One that lives on through your home.


This list has been compiled based on things builders we work with are doing, trends we are noticing, and things we’d like to see more of!


Intentional Stormwater Management


Stormwater management is an important thing for builders to consider. When it rains, where does the water go? Often, rainwater in developed areas runs across impervious surfaces like asphalt and carries pollution into the watershed. This results in polluted streams and rivers and can have disastrous longterm affects. Pollution in our waterways is a really pressing issue, one that affects plants, animals, and humans.


When builders choose porous pavement, they help rainwater filter into the ground as opposed to washing away into the watershed. Porous pavement is a much better alternative for the environment than the more common impervious pavement, which directs water straight into our rivers and streams. Plus, studies have shown that porous pavement can be implemented at a comparable price point to its impervious counterpart!


Biomimicry


The planet has been around for billions of years, and we can learn a lot about home building from Earth’s natural regulation strategies. This is a technique called “biomimicry.” For example, a Zimbabwean architect named Mick Pearce used termite hills as inspiration for a building in Zimbabwe. Pearce mimicked the termite-built ventilation system in his building, allowing it to regulate its own airflow and temperature. The result is a naturally efficient building that uses only 10% of the energy that comparable buildings expend on ventilation! And that’s just one example—there is so much we can learn from the environment’s natural systems. Check out this video for a thorough explanation and some additional examples.


Deconstruction


We’ve been thinking a lot about deconstruction lately. Deconstruction is an alternative to demolition where an older structure is taken apart piece by piece. This allows builders to salvage materials from one house to use for the next. This used to be hard to pull off because of time constraints, but in 2009 the Seattle Department of Planning and Development expanded permitting options to allow the extra time necessary to accomplish deconstruction. This is a process that keeps usable materials out of the landfill, and allows Seattle’s original milled wood to stay standing!


Build a Greener World


When we build our homes, we should do so in a way that we can be proud of for future generations. Earth Day isn’t just a 24-hour window when we should think about how to be kinder to our planet. It’s an invitation to reflect on ways to build a better world. Reach out to us to chat about some of the ways our builders are investing in our real home: planet Earth.

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