Building Green

ThinkGreenEnergy crisis notwithstanding, environmentally friendly building design has been a hot topic in many areas of the country for decades. Texas, California and our neighboring state, New Jersey, have all passed laws to encourage energy conservation in homes by offering healthy tax rebates. For example, homeowners in Texas get a 70-80% tax rebate when they install solar collectors in their home. Pennsylvania home- owners currently get only the utility savings that come from such an installation. The state provides no additional incentive.

There are many common sense approaches that can generate more efficient use of the environment if we just pause long enough to give them their due consideration.

So why consider environmentally friendly design in your home or office? Do the benefits truly outweigh the costs? The answer of course is subject to individual interpretation but in today’s world of rapidly depleting existing energy sources, any movement towards conservation will pay off to someone in the long run.

At the annual convention for the American Institute of Architects (AIA) held from May 15-17, 2008 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, one of America’s leaders in the building of environmentally responsible residences, Peter Pfeiffer, FAIA, Austin, TX, addressed the topic of “Green Homebuilding by Design.” He drew upon over thirty years of building green to address some of the pitfalls architects face in executing green design. Although much of his talk addressed technical issues, much of what he said bordered on plain common sense.

Based on a combination of our experience and his inspiring remarks, we have developed the following top ten things you can do to make better use of the environment when designing your home or office. Some can be retrofitted into an existing structure; others would require new construction or major rework.


Certainly there are material considerations for actual construction that also come to play in building green. Sustainable harvested lumber, alternative building materials, adhesive rubber flashing around windows are just some of the products available that you can discuss with your architect or builder. The most important thing to remember is that 90% of all savings can happen in the first 10% of the design by implementing the
simple steps outlined in our top ten.

Recommended Reading: Sustainable Design 



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