The past couple decades, environmental efforts have been greatly focused on limiting the use of gas in our cars by switching to hybrids and electrics. And more recently, eliminating our use of plastic straws by replacing them with paper. While any effort to reduce our carbon footprint is a noble one, there is something major humans are doing that contributes to environmental catastrophes that we often overlook: construction.

Raised with an eco-consciousness, I carried that over into adulthood and into my work. Our design-build firm is always approaching our projects with sustainability in mind and since it is Earth Day, I figured what  better time than now to share with you some ways you can make your home a little more green.

  1. Reuse, Recycle

This is an obvious one, of course, but when it comes to construction  and building a new home from the ground up, it may not be your instinct. Recently, my wife, designer Lori Dennis of Lori Dennis Inc. and I bought a fixer upper in Marina Del Rey, which we’ve described as the Big Green Monster. It needed a ton of work, including tearing down walls and starting from scratch in a number of areas, especially as we turned the single-family home into three separate units that would become vacation rentals.

But we knew every time you buy something new and bring it to site for installation, not only are you going to incur an expense, but, more importantly, you’re causing a lot of environmental disturbances in order to ship new product than you would when you upcycle something preexisting.

hollywood hills entry way

  1. Tips for Green Window Installation and Selection

Windows are an often overlooked, but easy way to improve your home’s environmental impact. You want to flood your light with as much natural light as possible so as to cut back on energy usage, but you want to do so strategically. For example, you probably don’t want to place large windows on the west side of a home because it will be way too hot! When possible, op’t for skylights and solar tubes.

In any case, you want your windows to be tightly sealed to keep your home insulated in the cooler months. The quality of your windows can greatly cut your electric bills by reducing the amount of electricity used in heating or cooling your home.

Hardwood Flooring in Pool Table Room

  1. Electronic Temperature Control

It’s warm out now, so thinking about adding heat to your home is probably the farthest thing from what’s on your mind. But when it comes to electrically heating your home, radiant heat in the floor can be both a luxurious and environmentally friendly way to heating your home.

And when it comes to cooling your home, we’re fans of forgoing air conditioner as much as possible, but if you must, opt for a smart system like the Nest that learns what you like to the degree and can turn off remotely to conserve energy.

  1. Sustainable Water Usage in Your Home

Aside from shortening your showers and turning off the faucet while you’re brushing your teeth, there are some design choices you can make in the plumbing department to conserve water usage. Always opt for low-flow efficient appliances. When it comes to washers and dryers, front-load is best!

In the bathroom, install toilets with dual-flush options. Don’t hesitate when it comes to fixing leaks, that cause more harm and waste more water than many people realize. When it comes to irrigating your yard, installing a recycled, grey water system is an excellent way to be green-thinking.

  1. Improve Indoor Air Pollution

Indoor air pollution is a serious problem that’s not on many people’s radar. Paints, fabrics, and plastics can release airborne toxics that can be detrimental to the planet and to the health of the home’s inhabitants. But there are so many little decisions you can make that make a large impact on the health of your home and prevent what we call Sick Building Syndrome.

Firstly treat any mold or mildew at first site. Don’t let it sit. This is imperative to the health of your family and home. When selecting paints, find low or no-voc. And select fabrics and materials that do not off-gas. Surprisingly, that doesn’t mean that they all have to be organic or natural materials. Some engineered woods, for example, breath perfectly fine, don’t require as much maintenance, and may actually hold up longer than the real thing, making it a great sustainable option.

When it comes to designing a green home, there is always going to be a give and take– Always a ‘greener’ way to do it. That’s ok. Developing an eco-consciousness takes time and involves some self-forgiveness along the way. There are always more than one way to be green. This is just a good place to start!