What You Need to Know About Sustainability

“Sustainability” is a buzzword in the real estate industry these days. It seems like everyone from buyers to builders to happy homeowners are interested in a more sustainable home.

Moving toward a more sustainable, or “green” home is pretty straightforward when you’re building a new home. But what if you’re in a home that was constructed decades ago?

Here are some thoughts we have on how you can move toward a more sustainable life in your home as your remodel, renovate, or otherwise improve your home.

This segment, part 1, will focus on the exterior of your home. And we’ll cover interior sustainability in the next post – part 2!

Low or zero-VOC paints

VOC are chemical compounds that can alter vapor pressures, affecting human health and the environment negatively. Both interior and exterior paints are available in low- or no-VOC formulations. Eliminating VOC

LED lighting

You’ll see significant energy savings if you switch to LED bulbs throughout your home. Top-quality LED bulbs not only last longer, they use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs. And the US Department of Energy indicates that widespread use of LED lighting has the greatest potential impact on energy savings in the US.

Energy monitors

Think of an energy monitor as a fitness tracking device … for your home! It reads the electric current and tracks where energy is being used. Based on this data, you can make adjustments as necessary. Sense is one company offering this type of monitor.

Energy Star appliances

With Energy Star ratings, it’s easy to compare energy usage on your appliances. Because many appliances run almost non-stop, significant savings are possible.

Low-flow fixtures

If you haven’t switched to low-flow fixtures yet, now is the time. And don’t forget to consider dual-flush toilets!


Do your windows need replacing? Think about doing so with low-E glass that reflect heat back in the summer. Andersen’s 100 Series is actually constructed from wood waste! They are very energy efficient, and contain argon between the panes – providing better insulation than simple air.

Programmable thermostats

Save energy while keeping your home at a comfortable temperature with programmable thermostats.


Speaking of your home’s temperature … it’s a lot easier to regulate temperature when your home is properly insulated (and you’ll likely save on energy costs as well). Traditional fiberglass insulation is very hard on the environment, as it takes 10 times the energy to produce as is required for more eco-friendly options. You might want to consider insulation made of sheep’s wool or recycled blue jeans, or plank insulation made from renewable cork. Regardless of which choice you make, you’ll see substantial savings when you beef up your home’s insulation.

Tankless water heaters

Unlike traditional water heaters, tankless systems only heat hot water when you need it. Your higher up-front cost will save you money over the life of the unit due to both their long lives and their energy efficiency.


The same VOCs present in paint can be found in flooring, so this is a great place to go green. If your existing wood floors are looking dreary, refinish them with a water-bawed loc-VOC sealer or stain. If you’re replacing flooring you might want to consider a broader range of options, including bamboo, cork, natural linoleum, or hardwood. If you are thinking carpet is a better option be sure to find one that features recycled or renewable material. Companies known for eco-friendly carpets include Beaulieu, Mohawk, and Shaw. And FLOR was named among the world’s most environmentally friendly businesses!

Get your HERS rating

The Home Energy Rating System measures the energy efficiency of your home. A certified rater can help you determine how efficiently your home is operating, and will show you where you can make modifications for additional energy savings.

Watch for our follow-up post on greening up the exterior of your home. And as always, please send your questions our way. We’d love to hear from you!

Marti Reeder, Realtor, Managing Broker