A well designed home achieves many goals, from comfort and security to beauty and delight. If designed especially well these qualities are maintained for the life of the home. Excellent design is timeless, even as styles and expectations change. For you, the owner, this translates into a home of lasting value. Moreover, timeless design is also one of the most fundamental goals of sustainability: building homes that last.
Lasting value need not cost more. Comfort is as important today as it will be in the future and a well designed home has comfort built into its core. Technologies will change and internal systems may eventually be replaced or upgraded, but what makes a home a joy to live in are qualities that transcend time. We all want natural light, warm and cozy spaces in winter, fresh flowing cooler air in summer and smooth transitions from inside to out. We desire beauty and functionality and low maintenance. These qualities can be achieved with good design with little or no extra cost. Extra insulation is inexpensive but adds immediate and long term comfort. And, fully implemented, passive solar design can even eliminate the need for expensive conventional heating systems offsetting up front costs and ensuring a home that will hold value as well as warmth. Even partial implementation of passive solar design elements can add to the quality of the home experience.
You may notice that many homes in our gallery feature ample south facing windows and glass doors in combination with large overhangs. This simple combination floods interior spaces with warmth and maximum light during our short winter days but sheds excess heat and light during the hottest parts of summer. Strategically placed window openings capture summer breezes and encourage comfortable movement of cooler air throughout the house. This costs little to achieve but increases value immeasurably.
Adaptability is also an important element in creating lasting value. A home should respond easily to changing family needs over time. Rooms and spaces should function well for varying purposes. Mechanical systems should be able to adapt to and incorporate new and ever changing technologies.
Living lighter on this earth is achieved with sustainable choices. But those choices are increasingly recognized as having immediate as well as long term benefits for those who make them as well as for those who will follow.
See Green Building Elements for a list of the most common ideas and systems to add long term value and sustainability to your home.