Balancing Budget and Sustainability in Home Design

SustainabilityPhoto © TreeLine Homes

Environmentally conscious homebuyers often assume that sustainable design is expensive and beyond their budget. But many creative individuals and design organizations are helping debunk the notion that green homes are unaffordable.

Green homes can cost the same as conventional homes to build and are less expensive in the long run thanks to their low energy costs.

Professional remodeler Kelly Hart of offers great budgeting advice for people determined to build an inexpensive single-family green home. For those on an especially tight budget, Hart advises to design small homes, build with materials that are recycled, free, or inexpensive and natural like adobe or wheat straw, and manage as much of the work on your own as possible.

It’s also smart to use available natural resources on your property when constructing your green home. Jason McLennan, who developed the Living Building Challenge (LBC)—a green design certification program and sustainability advocacy tool—is another pioneer encouraging homeowners to build affordable green homes that use on-site resources. From the Baird family’s ultra eco-friendly residence in British Columbia to the Aleutian Housing Authority’s net-zero energy design contest in Alaska, LBC is helping individuals and municipals raise the standards of affordable and sustainable living.

SustainabilityPhoto © TreeLine Homes

LBC’s certification requirements include using environmentally responsible materials and taking advantage of the water and energy available on site to fuel a building. This means that LBC certified homes are in tune with their landscape and utilize their surrounding resources in innovative ways. Building affordable green housing involves using rainwater for irrigation, solar panels for energy, and local or natural materials like ryegrass for insulation.

While some homeowners employ these green design tools to build new homes, others may benefit from updating their current conventional homes into more sustainable ones. You may find it easier and less expensive to take on small remodeling projects in order to slowly transform your residence. Adding on sustainable elements, as you can afford them, will allow you to budget wisely and take on less work.

Whether you’re building a green home or investing in sustainable remodeling projects, remember that you’re capable of doing it without breaking the bank. Budgeting and designing within your means is very possible if you think outside the box, use local resources, and utilize sustainable materials.

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