Green building means making environmentally-preferable and sustainable decisions throughout the building process-decisions that will minimize the environmental impact of the home while it is being built and over its many years.

Considerations include the regional context, individual site, as well as materials on the site and in your new home, as described:

  • Location: Consider walking, biking or public transportation opportunities and avoid sensitive or flood-prone areas.

  • Size: Smaller houses are far more efficient, requiring less materials and less energy for heating and cooling, and that means they are also more affordable.

  • Orientation: South-facing windows with a deciduous tree ensure you get warming sunlight in the winter. Avoid west exposure to prevent glare and summer overheating.

  • Layout: Taller buildings are more efficient than wider ones.

  • Local Materials: Depending on availability, locally-milled wood and stones from a local quarry avoid shipping and support local businesses.

  • Recycled Materials: When possible, look for products with recycled content, such as countertops made from recycled glass or reclaimed wood, bricks, and stone.

  • Insulation & Air Sealing: One of the most important energy efficient ideas, be certain you have sufficient insulation and air is not leaking through cracks and crevasses.

  • Windows and Doors: Windows and doors with strong insulation value will be more efficient and save you money in the long run.

  • Appliances: Use ENERGY STARⓇ appliances and equipment to reduce energy costs.

  • Lighting: LED lights use less power, lower your energy costs, and last much longer.

  • Water: Both dual-flush toilets and reduced flow faucets & shower heads allow you to reduce both your water needs and costs.

  • Hot Water: A solar hot water system heats your water via the sun, while a tankless water heater provides instant hot water, using less energy.

  • HVAC: Efficient Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning is critical. Include programmable thermostats, zones, or mini-split units to maximize the efficiency.

  • Recycle Your Energy: An Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) uses energy from your exhaust air to pre-heat or -cool the air being pulled into your home.

  • Renewable Energy: Harvest energy through solar, wind, or geothermal systems.

  • Rain Water: Collect rain water to flush toilets or water your lawn and garden.

  • Native Plants: Plants native to our area thrive in this climate and need minimal care.

Adapted from “21 Ideas for Building a Sustainable House” by Jorge Fontan AIA

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New Jersey Clean Energy Programs

New Jersey ENERGY STAR Homes are designed to achieve 15% more energy efficiency than the building code.

New Jersey Zero Energy Ready Home promotes innovation in building design, materials, techniques, and operation.

For either of these programs, builders agree to work with independent third-party inspectors (raters) who inspect, measure, and test the home’s performance during and after construction by following these steps. Incentives are available to builders to partially offset the construction costs associated with building higher efficiency homes, according to the rate schedule set in the Residential New Construction Program Guide.

LEED: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

The US Green Building Council is committed to transforming how our buildings are designed, constructed and operated through LEED, which provides a framework to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings.

LEED homes are built to be healthy, providing clean indoor air and incorporating safe building materials to ensure a comfortable home. Using less energy and water means lower utility bills each month. And in many markets, certified green homes are now selling quicker and for more money than comparable non-green homes.

The Green Home Guide allows you to get ideas and search for qualified green professionals who can ensure your home achieves LEED certification.

Princeton’s Green Development Checklist

Princeton’s Green Development Checklist, incorporates many of these ideas, and can be used to analyze a development’s potential to incorporate green design, increasing the site’s sustainability and its impact on our community.