6 Sustainable Materials, Technologies, and Building Practices for New Construction Homes
Sustainable materials and technologies can save homeowners money while also reducing their carbon footprint. When integrated into new home construction, sustainable materials also increase return on investment and lead to improved quality of life. If you're a homeowner who will soon be working with a contractor to build your new home, these six sustainable materials and technologies can be valuable additions.
Reclaimed wood is wood that has been used previously in a different structure. Sometimes, reclaimed wood is taken from homes or buildings that are being torn down, and other times, it is taken from old pieces of furniture when they are deconstructed.
Reclaimed wood is a coveted building material for many reasons. In addition to being eco-friendly, it can also add character to a home. It is often marked with holes and stains from its previous life. While these imperfections can be sanded down or filled in, many homeowners choose to keep the boards as is.
Some homeowners prefer reclaimed wood because some antique woods are no longer available as a building material. One thing is certain: reclaimed wood can increase a home's resale value.
Bamboo looks and performs much like hardwood. It's eco-friendly, however, because bamboo is must faster-growing than woods like oak or walnut. Whereas a tree can take about 20 years to reach maturity for harvest, bamboo is ready in about 6 years. Bamboo is also relatively affordable and easy to maintain, and premium types of bamboo are very durable and long-lasting.
When purchasing bamboo for a new construction home, it's important to purchase bamboo types that are of good quality and sold by reputable dealers. Some types of bamboo are not long-lasting or durable such as engineered bamboo flooring.
Solar panels are desirable because they reduce a homeowner's dependency on the electrical grid while also reducing the homeowner's carbon footprint. Solar panels are somewhat expensive, costing in the tens of thousands of dollars for a standard system, but they're made more affordable by tax rebates that many homeowners are able to take advantage of when they purchase a solar system.
Standard insulation is made from synthetic materials like fiber glass and foam. Green insulation is made from many materials, including recycled denim and even sheep's wool. One of the reasons that home buyers prefer green insulation to other materials is that it can be as effective as synthetic materials. However, it is not as easy to acquire green insulation as standard insulation. Homeowners who would like to install this type of insulation should plan ahead.
Low-Flow Plumbing Fixtures
Low-flow plumbing fixtures save money on water utilities while also helping to conserve water in the community. These fixtures can include shower heads, sink faucets, bathtub faucets, and of course, toilets. In fact, toilets are a perfect example of the way that plumbing fixtures have changed over the years. In the 1950s, toilets used as much as seven gallons of water per flush. Today, they can use as little as 1.28 gallons per flush, which is a major improvement.
Smart, Energy-Efficient Appliances
Smart, energy-efficient appliances do more than use energy wisely. They can also can be adapted to homeowner preferences to ensure they use as little energy as possible.
One example of the way this works can be seen in smart thermostats, which can "learn" a homeowner's preferences. The smart thermostat then changes the temperature of the house throughout the day according to those preferences. Smart appliances save money and energy by only using exactly as much energy is needed to keep the house comfortable and functioning well.
Work With an Experienced Home Builder
When building a home with sustainable fixtures and features, it's very important to work with a builder who understands the installation process. Hire a builder who has used these materials in the past and is able to work with them skillfully.
To find the right builder, ask them about their experience working with eco-friendly materials. Look at their portfolio and ask them questions about that experience. The more they can talk about how they have worked with eco-friendly materials in the past, the easier it will be for you to evaluate whether that builder is right for you.