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Sustainability is an investment that makes sense for your family's future and finances. Image Via: Abramson Teiger Architects

Sustainability is an investment that makes sense for your family’s future and finances. Image Via: Abramson Teiger Architects

We all want to help the environment – or at least we know we should – but when it comes to actually implementing sustainable practices, the task often seems too daunting. Green architecture, in particular, has been given the unfortunate reputation of being too difficult and costly to implement in your own home.

However, this assumption could not be further from the truth. We’ll show you why embracing green living might just be the smartest investment you can make.

Read on to find out the ways in which sustainable architecture will improve your quality of living while saving you money and, of course, helping the environment. There’s really no downside to this one. After seeing the benefits below, you’ll be itching to tackle your carbon footprint.

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Not all sustainable homes are ultra-modern. This traditional exterior is LEED-certified. Image Via: William Johnson Architect

Not all sustainable homes are ultra-modern. This traditional exterior is LEED-certified. Image Via: William Johnson Architect

Sustainability Saves You Money

Let’s get really honest for a second: Budget is everyone’s bottom line. While sustainable living is nice in theory, it’s not going to be attractive to the average homeowner unless it is also profitable. Fortunately, living sustainably is one of the shrewdest financial decisions that your family can make. Take a look at the savings breakdown below:

  • Quick Return of Investment: McGraw Hill Construction’s Green Outlook 2011 found that the ROI on green structures improved by 19.2% on average for existing building green projects and 9.9% on average for new projects when compared to their traditional counterparts.
  • Lowered Cost of Living: After the initial cost has been recouped, the World Green Building Council suggests that energy use savings ranges from $4-$16 per square foot and water use savings could go as high as $2 per square foot.
  • Increased Resale Value: A recent study by the Earth Advantage Institute found that energy-efficient homes sold for 8% more than non-certified homes.

To save even more money, do your homework before starting any home improvements. The push to go green has led to many tax incentives and construction costs rebates on sustainable projects. Research companies thoroughly and be sure to ask them what benefits they have to offer.

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Installing a few solar panels will drastically reduce your heating and cooling costs. Image Via: Bertram Architects

Green Buildings Are Healthy

What if we told you that investing in a sustainable home was an easy way to keep your family happy and healthy? Well, it’s true.  Green buildings are able to boast cleaner living environments that have a positive impact on your family’s health and wellbeing.

Air quality is huge in terms of health. As we use buildings, less than desirable pollutants – mold, carbon monoxide, vapors from chemical cleaners – build up in the air. Overexposure to these elements has led to an increase in headaches, fatigue, and allergies.

Since green buildings offer improved ventilation and better insolation from outside elements, symptoms of this “sick building syndrome” are less common. In fact, one study by the Boston Housing Authority found that residents of green buildings were 47% less likely to report sickness, even during peak flu season.

As an added bonus, that same heavy insolation has been known reduce temperature fluctuation and outside noise. It’s a step toward creating a comfortable and peaceful environment that your family deserves.

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Sustainable homes tend to feature tons of natural light since its a great source of Vitamin D. Image Via: WA Design

Sustainable homes tend to feature tons of natural light since its a great source of Vitamin D. Image Via: WA Design

You’ll Improve The Environment

There’s an old saying that goes, “We don’t inherit the Earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.” When you think about it like that, we all need to focus on implementing strategies for a cleaner environment that will last long time.

This push needs to start as soon as possible. The most recent impact report by the intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was especially bleak. It found that climate change is no longer a worry for the future – It’s here. What’s worse is that some of its effects are irreversible, especially in regard to increasingly severe temperatures, rapidly rising sea levels, and extinction due to deforestation.

However, sustainable architecture has found a way to combat these changes by implementing systems to keep our energy emissions to a minimum, generating clean energy from renewable resources, and reusing building materials that would have otherwise become waste.

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A green home reduces energy emissions while repurposing waste. Image Via: Window World

A green home reduces energy emissions while repurposing waste. Image Via: Window World

How To Start Living Green

Okay, so we’ve convinced you to give green architecture some serious thought. Great! Now the question becomes “How Do I Even Start Something Like This?” We’ve got that covered. Below is a list of components that green homes usually feature. Feel free to use it as a jumping off point.

  • Adequate insolation throughout the entire structure
  • An alternative power source like solar panels or a wind turbine
  • Ventilation systems designed for optimal heating and cooling
  • “Low-Flow” plumbing fixtures
  • Energy-Efficient windows, appliances, and lighting
  • A collection system for rainwater runoff
  • A useable garden or green space
  • Landscaping that requires minimal water waste
  • When building, focus on smaller homes that offer more efficient use of space
  • Use of local, recycled materials in building and design

Even if you’re not in a place to do a major home remodel right now, there are lots of things that everyone can do to reduce their waste – and their utility costs immediately. Turn off lights and electronics when you’re not using them, make a commitment to recycle and reduce your use of wasteful materials, hire an energy auditor for specific recommendations on how to make your home a little greener. This is one area in which every small step makes a difference, so why not try it out?

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Cut down on waste by opting for smaller floor plan. Image Via: Birdseye Design

Green architecture has a reputation for being trendy. It’s one of those things that’s seen as cool when thinking about the big picture, but less-than-practical when it comes to actually implementing features into your own home. However, that assumption could not be further from the truth. Embracing sustainable building has been shown to save money, improve health, and, of course, help the environment. With benefits like those, it only makes sense to look at sustainability as a great investment.

Will you consider sustainability next time you’re working on home improvements? If you already have, what features make your home more environmentally friendly? Share your advice with us in the comments.