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  • Writer's pictureVera Blouin

Questions to Ask When Designing Your Sustainable Home

There is nothing more exciting than the decision to design and build your own home. You have the opportunity to put who you are into a building and create your dream space. With any home, there are many things to think about, but when you add sustainability, it becomes another layer of things to consider and educate yourself about.

A modern sustainable designed home nestled amidst lush greenery, featuring large windows, solar panels on the rooftop, and a rainwater harvesting system. The house showcases eco-friendly materials, such as recycled wood and energy-efficient appliances, promoting a harmonious blend of aesthetics and sustainability.

When designing your sustainable home, it's important to ask yourself several key questions to ensure that your design choices align with your goals for energy efficiency, environmental impact, and overall sustainability. Here are some things to consider:

What are your specific needs, lifestyle requirements, and how much space do you need?

  • You'll want to consider your family size, long-term plans, hobbies, and daily routines.

  • This will help you decide the overall layout, number of rooms (ie. bedrooms, living room, bathrooms, etc.), and overall functionality of your home.

  • There are minimum standards for various room sizes. Evaluate the required square footage for each room and consider the future and any potential changes.

  • You'll want to make certain that the overall size of your home fits within your budget and the available land.

What is your budget?

  • Determine how much you're willing to spend on the construction, materials, furnishings, and other aspects of your home. This will influence your design choices and help prioritize your needs.

  • Very important to remember that whatever you budget, to set aside roughly and additional 20% of your budget for the unknowns. In construction, something always unexpected is bound to come up and the last thing you want to be is short on building funds.

Cozy living room with a fireplace, comfy armchairs, and warm lighting - BLOU INK

What style or architectural design appeals to you?

  • Explore different architectural styles, such as modern, traditional, minimalist, or hygge, and determine the aesthetic you prefer. This will help with the decisions regarding exterior and interior design elements throughout the home.

How can you optimize passive solar design, natural light, and ventilation?

  • Lighting is often forgotten when designing a home. Where the sun rises and falls is a very important component when considering how your home is orientated.

  • Consider the placement of windows and opportunities for incorporating skylights or other architectural features to maximize natural light and airflow.

  • Explore strategies for maximizing solar heat gain, and natural ventilation to reduce reliance on artificial lighting, heating, and cooling.

What are your privacy needs?

  • Think about the level of privacy required in each area of your home, both from external sources (neighbors, streets) and internal sources (rooms, corridors). This will help determine the layout and placement of windows, walls, and landscaping.

What are your energy efficiency goals?

  • Decide if you want to incorporate sustainable features such as solar panels, energy-efficient appliances, insulation, or smart home technology. These choices can reduce your environmental impact and save on long-term energy costs.

  • Assess your priorities regarding energy consumption and determine how you want your home to perform in terms of energy efficiency.

What renewable energy sources can you incorporate?

  • Consider the integration of solar panels, wind turbines, or geothermal systems to generate clean, renewable energy for your home.

How will you utilize outdoor spaces?

  • Determine how you want to use your outdoor areas

  • Would you like to incorporate a garden, patio, or pool.

  • Factor in the regional climate and local regulations that might impact these design choices.

What are the local building codes and regulations?

  • Research the building codes and regulations in your area to ensure compliance and avoid future issues.

  • This includes understanding setback requirements, zoning restrictions, and any permits needed.

  • It is also very important to know that the building material, especially any sustainable building materials are compliant.

Elegant dining room with a wooden table, metal and upholstered chairs, and chandelier lighting - BLOU INK

Do you have any specific design preferences or must-have features?

  • Consider any unique preferences or special features you'd like to incorporate, such as a home office, entertainment room, gym, or a specific material or color palette.

How can you minimize water consumption and promote water conservation?

  • Use water-efficient fixtures and whole-home purification systems.

  • For landscaping needs consider rainwater harvesting systems and landscaping techniques that reduce water usage and promote sustainability.

What eco-friendly building materials are available?

  • Research and select materials with low environmental impact, such as recycled or reclaimed materials, sustainably sourced wood, or eco-friendly insulation options.

How can I optimize insulation and airtightness in my home?

  • Explore insulation materials, techniques, and design strategies to minimize heat loss, drafts, and energy waste.

What heating, cooling, and ventilation systems are the most efficient and sustainable?

  • Options such as energy-efficient HVAC systems, radiant floor heating, or passive cooling techniques to maintain a comfortable indoor environment.

How can I integrate smart home technology for energy management?

  • Explore energy monitoring systems, programmable thermostats, and smart appliances to optimize energy usage and reduce waste.

How can I promote healthy indoor air quality?

  • Research low VOC (volatile organic compound) products and efficient ventilation systems.

  • Also, incorporating air-purifying indoor plants are contribute greatly to indoor air quality. (ie. monstera, snake plant, mother in laws tongue, etc.)

How can I design a sustainable landscape?

Interior garden with a small natural soaking pool  - BLOU INK
  • Consider native plants, water-efficient irrigation systems, and permeable surfaces to minimize water usage and create an eco-friendly outdoor space.

What recycling and waste management systems should I incorporate?

  • Plan for efficient waste segregation, recycling stations, and composting systems to minimize landfill waste.

Looking for Experts to Help You Design Your New House?

BLOU INK offers a range of design services – we're ready to help you realize your design vision.

Hallway flanked by floor to ceiling bifold glass doors - BLOU INK


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