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8 Tips for Designing Your Dream Green Home



Photos courtesy Barrett Studio Architects

Whether you are setting out to renovate your home, or designing your dream home from the ground up, here are simple ways your home can benefit from paying attention to Mother Nature and the clues she offers.

1. Start by knowing your site and climate. 

Whether building something new or renovating, it is imperative to design for the uniqueness of Colorado’s climate. You will want to mitigate the challenges of our weather, while also looking for ways to celebrate our glorious high desert environment.

2. Bring the outside in and extend your living to outdoor rooms. 

By thoughtful design, you can live much of your life with views that make indoor spaces larger and open rooms with an easy flow to the outdoors.

3. Build with effective insulation. 

Roofs, walls and even glass can be fine-tuned to minimize the flow of heat in and out of your home. This can also be an opportunity to express this defense against the cold with thick walls, roofs and high performance materials.

4. Size does matter! 

All too often, people build more than they need or even what is most comfortable. Right sizing lets you live fully without over-building and having to deal with unnecessary maintenance.

5. Let there be (natural) light. 

Nothing adds to the experience of your home like well-designed day-lighting. When you don’t need to turn lights on, you are not only saving energy and money, but also enjoying the uplifting effect of the sun illuminating your space and mood.

6. Grow your own. 

The inter-weaving of plants and even food with your living spaces connects you with the natural world and the changing seasons while offering summertime shade from the intense Colorado sun. Consider this approach as the merger of landscape and architecture, garden and home.

7. Integrate solar energy collection into the form of your home. 

Renewable energy does not have to look like an afterthought. Make sure you prepare your home for a solar future by carefully looking at sun studies for passive solar design opportunities. Also consider the proportions of roof overhangs and correct placement of thermal mass in order to maximize energy efficiency.

8. Natural weathering and recycled materials can humanize residential architecture.

The Japanese concept of “wabi sabi”, or the appreciation of imperfection, is a good counterbalance to our technological modern world filled with gadgets and devices.

David Barrett, FAIA is the Founding Principal and Design Director of Barrett Studio Architects in Boulder, Colorado. Chris Touchette, AIA is Principal of CCY Architects in Basalt, Colorado.

Content for this article provided by American Institute of Architects - Colorado Chapter. Reach AIA Colorado at 303-446-2266. 

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