“Sustainability in building is best achieved by builders who are forward thinking.” –Jeff Dinkle, Eco Custom Homes, GA

2. Dinkle and Schofield feel proper framing techniques are crucial. Framing in 2 x 6 exterior walls using advanced framing techniques that no longer places a 2 x 4 every 16 inches on center, but instead requires 24 inches on center, which is code. Learning how to frame windows without headers while leaving room for insulation is another technical skill builders need to be mindful of to cut costs of lumber used while adding energy efficiency through insulation. Educate the framer so that more insulation can be put in walls. Finding the right framer is important to cutting five to ten percent of construction costs by paying attention to advanced framing techniques. There are even online resources with videos and spreadsheets that assist the builder/framer in pre-planning the exact amount and type of lumber necessary. By not having so much waste at the end, money is saved, and the planning becomes environmentally conscious as well.

3. Insulation methods may ensure significant cost savings. While spray foam is the buzz word of construction right now, it bears repeating that spray foam insulation is only as good as the person applying it to the house. The builder must ensure that a minimum of one inch is applied, though more is even better.

4. Overhangs can add beauty but also solar shading. Architectural features like overhangs add beauty and customization to homes, yet practically they add protection from the summer sun, which, in turn, saves the homeowner money.

5. Focus on air quality. As home envelopes become tighter, measures must be taken to ensure the homeowners have quality, clean air in the home. Introduce CFM (80 or 100 CFM) per home through a filtered, controlled environment. ERV systems exchange the energy contained in outgoing air and use it to treat the incoming air from outdoors in HVAC systems. Some systems in winter will regulate humidity on the inside of home by transferring heat and moisture. Self-regulating systems will likely emerge as code in the years to come.

6. Utilize recycled or earth-friendly materials. Barn doors on the interior, low VOC paints, triple-paned windows, repurposed cabinets, quartz surfaces, and recycled flooring are just a few options that can enhance a green build for a new client.

7. Conserve water and hot water energy. Replace the hot water heater with a heat pump hot water fixture. When toilets or faucets need to be replaced, suggest Water Sense fixtures.

8. Plan ahead by knowing the neighborhood. Even if an HOA will not approve solar panels at this time, $100 can be spent for future wiring to the electrical panel using an electrical chase. Having a property with south-southwest rooflines will make solar panels possible as they become more widely accepted, particularly in high-end neighborhoods still viewing them as eye sores. Likewise understanding which sustainable building practices best suit the geographic area is key. Homes on the coast could capitalize more on solar energy than say a home built in the Georgia mountains that is encompassed by trees.

It’s important to note that sustainable building practices can also be applied to remodeling jobs. With the addition of a sunroom or master suite, for instance, focus on the house envelope. Jeff Schofield comments, “One of the most neglected yet simple measures for insuring a tight envelope is to caulk. On numerous remodeling projects, we notice