Sustainable Green Eco Home Design

…is connecting with nature, our immediate surroundings, and is foundational to our well-being. “Making the most of,” or in modern terms “conserving,” materials at hand to create a shelter for living goes back to basic principles all humans of the past used to build shelters within their local environments.

The basic eco function of our homes is to provide a shelter that protects us from the cold, and the heat, with an appropriate space for cooking, socializing, cleaning and sleeping.

With a long time interest in sustainable, “green” design, I have studied and incorporated home energy efficiencies in both new / remodel home architecture designs since 1978. Using resources wisely is a global concern. Since most people live in existing homes, rather than having new houses designed and built for them, it’s important to make existing homes more efficient and eco friendly: getting energy loads as low as possible, minimizing energy use while maintaining our comfort levels. Even modest energy / resource saving changes are good for the environment and clients’ cost-savings on their long term energy “investment” by making solar panel or the energy efficient heating systems smaller.

long concrete hallway and walls provide temperature stabilization in eco home design

Eco home design: Thermal masses like this concrete hallway (and walls) provide cooling in summer while retaining warmth in the winter.

Ideally, a house and its main living spaces should be oriented to capture the south sun as much as possible for winter solar heating. Thermal mass construction materials such as concrete / brick / tile can be used to retain heat during the winter and cool a home during summer months.

This southern exposure for windows also makes the best orientation for controlling summer heat gain. South-facing windows & doors allow for bright, warmly lit, interior spaces that create pleasant livable rooms. And day lighting reduces the need for electrical lighting during the daylight hours.

photo of large circular skylight illuminating interiors with daylight

Architectural solutions for environmental house design: Skylights to illuminate interiors with daylight.

Many new good technology strategies can be integrated into a building: photovoltaic “solar” panel electricity generation; high efficiency furnaces/hot water boilers, high efficiency lighting and/or daylight lighting systems, low-e coatings on a new window or glass doors…but the first design consideration is orienting the building and its primary interior rooms to meet heating / cooling / lighting needs before those technologies are employed. Conveniently, a southern orientation is also best for outdoor deck and terrace spaces.