Smart growth and preservation can go hand-in-hand. Florida’s sustainable home movement combines modern design, energy efficiency, and beautiful surroundings to make your dream of a sustainable, custom home a reality.
A commitment to sustainability doesn’t mean you have to settle for less in a home, relegated to a tiny home or prefab house. Sustainable homes come in all shapes and sizes.
What’s most important to consider before buying a home is to assess the land your home is built on. Were locally sourced material was used in the building process? Was the home designed sustainably? Does it have clean and green surroundings?
front view of a home
The Land Your Home Is Built On
Ideally, sustainable homes are built in areas they are already well suited for. An eco-friendly home may be located on previously impacted pasture, farm, or rock-mined land. Avoid buying a home that was built on land that had to be transformed through tree removal or large changes to the land around it.
Sustainable building developments can show their commitment to Florida’s unique climate and environment by protecting it. The forests and natural spaces around your home should remain untouched!
A great home developer will go a step further than “leaving no trace” and also actively help protect the land around housing developments. This may include donating lands to the preservation, renewable energy projects, and other projects to minimize their environmental footprint. Here are other ways your community can show its commitment to the restoration and mitigation efforts of the area near your home:
- Restoration of historical flow ways/greenways
- Maintenance of surface water quality
- Ecological restoration of disturbed uplands
- Functional habitat design for wildlife
- Enhancement of wildlife corridors
- Habitat for endangered species
Locally Sourced Material
What is your home made of? Materials should be screened to make sure they are free of harmful chemicals and ideally, your home is built out of natural building materials you could find in your backyard!
Other materials in your home can come from recycled resources. You can also combine both of these sustainable practices by recycling resources around your home. This might include harvesting rainwater, producing your own food, and converting the waste into compost!
The most common way to think about home sustainability is through a home’s energy usage. For good reason, an energy-efficient home is a huge step towards lowering your carbon footprint!
Homes achieve energy savings through established and reliable building technologies. Here are some features to look for:
- High-performance windows and insulation
- Tight construction and ducts
- Efficient heating and cooling equipment (look for natural cooling, like porches, raised foundations, and ceiling fans)
- Energy-saving lighting and appliances
- Programmable thermostats that let you control the heating and cooling of your home to the times you need them
Sustainably designed homes should not only be energy efficient but also water efficient. Here are a few water-conscious home features that show water use responsibility:
- Limited turf coverage: less than 30% of your home’s yard should be grass/turf.
- Native and low-impact landscaping: native and low-impact trees and shrubs should account for at least 75% of landscaping.
- Irrigation using reclaimed water: use stormwater, run-off, and reclaimed water from onsite and wastewater utility for irrigation, not potable water!
- In-home fixtures: look for WaterSense® compliant fixtures (defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).
Seek Out Certified Homes
Being energy efficient is about more than just saying your home design is sustainable, it’s proving it!
Florida’s Green Building Coalition (FGBC) offers certifications for homeowners and homebuilders to prove their commitment to a healthy environment and climate. FGBC has four green certifying levels: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.
When looking for a sustainable home, ensure it is designed to at least meet the “bronze” standard set by FGBC.
Clean and Green Surroundings
Sustainability isn’t just about what’s in your home, it’s what surrounds it. Sustainable communities encourage their residents to leave the car at home and hit the trails instead!
Sustainable developments focus on their residents’ connection to the environment. They encompass pedestrian-focused principles, usable outdoor spaces, and foster a strong sense of community.
A successful sustainable community will have expansive hiking and biking trail systems to connect you with shopping, schools, and services. Pathways will pay special attention to micro-climates by providing shaded pathways and rest areas, tree-lined streets, and shaded structures.
Your neighborhood should also have recycling in place and encourage homeowners to recycle whenever possible. Your neighborhood should have the following recycling options:
- Junk Mail
- Telephone directories
- Cardboard (no pizza boxes)
- Plastic containers codes 1 through 7 only (caps removed)
- Milk/Juice cartons (no liquids)
- Steel cans
- Clear, brown, and green glass
- Aluminum cans
A sustainable home means so much more than changing a few light bulbs and collecting your rainwater. Choosing to live sustainably brings social, physical, nutritional, spiritual, economic, and educational well-being. Sustainable homes and communities are about providing inspired and unique experiences with the great outdoors, amenities and people. If you are ready to begin your sustainable lifestyle, subscribe to our mailing list to learn more!