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What does it mean to have a sustainable home? For some homeowners, it means increasing energy efficiency by incorporating low impact, earth-friendly materials into the home’s construction. Others may prioritize a space with efficient design and placement, allowing the entire family to live comfortably for a longer period of time. The good news? You can have it all — a home that’s made to fit your lifestyle and reduce your carbon footprint through use of sustainable materials and smart design.
At Clarum Homes, we focus on passive and passive-inspired homes, which take a holistic approach to sustainability. These homes are powered by systems which ensure clean, cost-effective energy and healthy air quality while offering design options that sustain your way of living.
Ready to make the switch? Here are some ways to make sustainability a central part of your new high-performance home.
One of the most affordable ways to minimize your energy use over time is through high-performance insulation. Covering the entire surface of the home’s envelope — from foundation to walls to roof – insulation prevents heat from leaking into and out of your home, essentially slowing heat loss while preventing drafts.
But the benefits of installing high-performance insulation extend well beyond saving you money. High-performance insulation creates a healthy indoor environment by reducing harmful chemicals, controlling moisture, and preventing temperature variations from one space to another. By minimizing energy loss and optimizing internal gains, it also reduces your family’s carbon footprint with little to no effort.
Some insulation components to consider when designing an energy-efficient home include: an insulated foundation, structural insulated panels, and exterior insulation.
Windows play a considerable role in the overall energy efficiency of your home, directly contributing to its gross energy consumption. Because windows gain and lose heat in a myriad of ways (including through direct conduction, heat radiation, and air leakage) they can quickly create an environment that promotes increased energy usage.
When selecting new windows for your home, it’s important to pay attention to the energy performance rating, which will help you identify its potential for losing heat. The U-factor, or rate of heat transfer, can be used as a guide — we recommend doubled-paned windows with a U-factor of .30 or lower, indicating high energy efficiency.
Did you know that a solar electric power system can generate 75-100% of a home’s power? With high-performance homes, that means built-in savings that add up over time. Solar panels allow you to harness the sun’s abundant radiation to power your home. Whatever energy you don’t use, you can sell back to the utility company’s grid, adding more cushion to your wallet.
Compared to a conventional home, a solar-powered home is eco-friendlier as it draws on an infinite resource to produce energy that’s pollution-free. Solar electric systems also require less maintenance over time, increasing the value of your home 17% faster on average.
On the topic of sunshine, in Silicon Valley experiences 261 days of sunshine on average each year. This ample sunlight is more than just an amenity — it’s also a resource for substantial energy savings. A home that’s built to rely on sunlight rather than artificial light means reduced energy consumption and a 10-20% savings on heating costs in the long term.
Leverage sunlight to its fullest potential with a floor plan that introduces plenty of sunlight into frequently used rooms. To manage that extra light, you should work with your builder to shade your high-performance home with overhangs, trees, and exterior walls and fences.
Daylighting is another helpful technique — by strategically placing windows and skylights in your home, you’ll balance heat gains and losses, glare control, and fluctuations in light availability.
Your high-performance home is really the sum of its parts, and its sustainability can be directly traced back to the materials used for construction. The value of your building materials isn’t just limited to the cost; it’s also important to consider where and how they are sourced. You’ll increase the longevity and health of your home by intentionally purchasing supplies like lumber, decking, flooring, cabinets, windows, and doors that are eco-friendly and have been harvested in a low-impact way.
Here are some factors to consider when selecting home building materials:
Whether your ultimate goal is to ease your family’s carbon footprint or simply to put more dollars back into your pocket, we can all agree that sustainability is a no-brainer for a 21st century home. With our passive and passive-inspired homes, you can rest easy with a home that’s great for the environment and designed to meet your needs.
Let Clarum Homes help you reach your goal of living more sustainably in 2022 and beyond. Give us a call at (650) 322-7069 to discuss your high-performance home project.