Green Design Strategies

The following concepts can be used in whole or in part to provide a house that:

  • Doesn’t squander scarce non-renewable resources (oil, gas, old growth trees)
  • Doesn’t harm the environment
  • Is free of toxic chemicals, dust, pollen, bacteria & allergens
  • Reduce utility costs & reduce maintenance


Energy Efficiency:

  • Geothermal heat pumps (provides heating and cooling at a fraction the cost of conventional systems but are the most expensive)
  • High efficiency HVAC equipment (SEER rating: +14)
  • Spray foam insulation (open cell or closed cell, soybean based)
  • Wet spray cellulose insulation (85% recycled content: newspapers)
  • Cotton (recycled denim) batt insulation (natural fibers with no allergens)
  • Energy recovery ventilation (ERV) system 
  • Tankless water heater
  • Solar water heater
  • Programmable thermostats
  • Air sealing the building envelope
  • High performance windows (double or triple glazed with low E glass)
  • Energy Star rated appliances & light fixtures 


Water Efficiency:

  • Drought resistant landscaping (to reduce water use)
  • Rainwater collection (reuse water for lawn & plant watering)
  • Dual flush toilets (saves 7000 gallons/year)
  • “WaterSense” rated plumbing fixtures (by the EPA)
  • Hot water recirculating pumps activated by motion sensors (significant water & energy savings)


Renewable Energy Sources:

  • Geothermal heat pumps
  • Solar hot water heating (generates electricity and/or hot water)
  • Wind power (generates electricity)


Site Planning & Site Preparation:

  • Site work that minimizes environmental impact before & after construction
  • Proper building orientation to maximize solar gain (passive solar)
  • Erosion control
  • Use natural/native landscaping (reduces water consumption)
  • Plant trees for summer shade
  • Use of permeable paving materials to minimize water runoff


Project Design:

  • Smaller building footprint
  • Locally appropriate design
  • Deep overhangs to reduce summer heat gain


Indoor Air Quality:

  • Whole house balanced ventilation system
  • Prevent pollutant sources (non-toxic, formaldehyde free materials)
  • Electrostatic air cleaners (trap 99% of pollen & mold spores, 98% of bacteria sized particles, 94% of respirable dust & 80% of virus-sized particles)
  • Radon mitigation


Construction “Best Practices”:

  • Air sealing the building envelope
  • Water managed detailing (“rain screen” walls, flashing, etc)


Material Selection:

  • Use of recycled & salvaged materials (i.e. wood timbers)
  • Use of sustainable materials (i.e. bamboo flooring)
  • Non-toxic, formaldehyde-free materials (i.e. plywood, insulation, cabinets)
  • Lumber: engineered lumber (saves old growth forests)
  • Siding: fiber cement siding, cedar clapboards or shingles
  • Roofing: shingles made from recycled plastic, stone coated metal roofing
  • Decking: wood composite decking (i.e. “Trex”)
  • Paint: low or zero VOC paints, water based paints or stains
  • Flooring: FSC certified wood flooring, bamboo, cork, linoleum, carpet made of recycled plastic
  • Lighting: Halogen or LED bulbs


Sources for Green Certification:


DeMotte Architects | Fairfield County CT Architect | Westchester County NY Architect

Schedule a free consultation for your home project in Greenwich CT and beyond, or view our past projects in Fairfield County CT and Westchester County NY.