Habitation Solutions

Contemporary Home in the Woods Jeff von Breitenfeld ArchitectureBefore Habitation Solutions discusses sustainable / green design, we must discuss the ways in which homeowners use and maintain their home.  The method in which homeowners use their home can make the home much more or less green. 

On an energy conservation standpoint, if homeowners turn off lighting and appliances when not in use, heat and cool the house to a reasonable temperature, keep windows open/closed as appropriate for the season, etc., considerable amounts of energy can be saved.  On an indoor environmental standpoint, if homeowners take their shoes off upon entering the house and use green cleaning techniques, their homes can be much cleaner and more healthful place to live. 

Techniques similar to this are the starting point to get to sustainable / green homes.  Designing and building a sustainable / green home are fruitless without a reasonable plan to use and maintain the house.


What is sustainable/green architectural design? 

Sustainable / Green Design varies immensely; it can be everything from passive solar design to selection of healthy materials that do not adversely affect ones’ heath to the design of an energy-efficient or a zero-net energy home. 

A few examples of conventional sustainable/green design options are listed below:

  1. Xeriscape landscaping (uses less water traditional landscaping)
  2. Water-efficient irrigation system
  3. Absorptive paving (allows water to percolated through the pavement)
  4. Low-flow, water efficient indoor plumbing fixtures (WaterSense rated plumbing fixtures)
  5. Enhanced insulation and air-sealing (air-sealing is eliminating the drafts)
  6. Excellent windows (keeping the cold and sun out)
  7. Energy efficient Lighting & Appliances (LED lighting)
  8. Ventilation & Fresh-air (bringing fresh air into the house and exhausting the inside air)
  9. Radon Protection
  10. Healthy Materials (eliminate unhealthy materials like urea-formaldehyde & VOCs)
  11. Many other options that promote occupant/owner wellness and save energy and water are available.


Habitation Solutions can design a home that incorporates some or all of the sustainable features listed above.

Homes can be designed to be a little bit sustainable/green, or very sustainable/green, or something in between.  There are many programs and standards define the different levels of “greenness”.  The greener the program, the more of the features listed above (ventilation, enhanced insulation, water efficient indoor plumbing fixtures, etc.) that are incorporated into the design of the house and the more rigorous the requirements of each of the features are.

Some sustainable / green / energy-efficient programs and standards are listed below:

  1. Compliance with the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), (local energy code)—not very green, but better than nothing
  2. Energy Star for Homes—a basic/little bit sustainable/green program
  3. Zero-Energy Ready Homes—an intermediate sustainable/green program
  4. Passive House—an advanced/very green sustainable program


Energy Star for Homes Program and Zero Net Energy Home Design

Habitation Solutions can design a home that incorporates the requirements and features of the programs listed above.

Homes designed to meet the requirements of Energy Star for Homes program will be very healthful and energy efficient.  These homes are designed and built to eliminate mold, carbon monoxide, and radon, while providing better windows, insulation, air-sealing, and lighting than a home that simply meets the requirements of the IECC.

Zero-net-energy home design and construction is now a feasible alternative.  These homes produce as much energy as is consumed by the household.  Renewable power is produced on-site, which supplies power to the house.  Also, zero-net energy homes are designed to use much less energy that a standard home, greatly reducing the amount of power required to operate the house.


Habitation Solutions can design a zero-net energy home for you.

Our proposal for the design of a zero-net energy home is to build the house to the passive house energy standard, which will significantly reduce the need for energy (by roughly 70 percent), then, provide the needed energy with on-site renewable energy (photo-voltaic panels).  This would result in a home that meets the owners’ energy needs without purchasing energy from the utility.

In an era of uncertainty, higher resource, water, and energy costs, less guarantees of availability of resources, it makes sense to build efficiencies into the design and construction of a home.  Habitation Solution can design a home that promotes wellness, is very energy and water efficient, and could be zero-net energy.

To learn more about incorporating sustainable / Green energy design into your architectural plans, contact Jeff von Breitenfeld.