2020 Buzz Word in Home Design: Sustainability

What’s the 2020 buzz word in home design? SUSTAINABILITY.  Everywhere our designers travel, talking to builders, homeowners, and designers, everyone is referring to sustainability. Tackling that word, we asked around to figure out exactly what that looks like for homeowners like you and me.   

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of sustainable is “harvesting or using a resource so the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.” So, to sustain something means to keep it around for a long time and make it last for future generations.

First, you must recognize that the most sustainable house is the one that already exists! If there’s any life left in your house at all, choose to get a virtual exterior design and update the old instead of tearing down and rebuilding.  

You don’t need to go off the grid completely, but reducing your home’s carbon footprint is not as difficult as it may sound.  That said, learning about our 2020 buzz word, sustainability, is not only important for the environment but easily achieved.

Idea #1.

Use Non-Toxic and Natural Materials

When possible go for natural materials at home.  That looks like wool carpeting, quartz counters, recycled glass, and natural wood accents.  

wood accent
outdoor fireplace

Idea #2.

Solar Panels/ Solar Lighting

Sunlight is truly a renewable energy resource. Because you’re gathering energy from the sun, your energy bill will drop. If you’re not ready to jump into solar panels, start with solar lighting for your exterior space.

solar power on tile roof
solar power walkway light

Idea #3.

Rainwater Barrel

A rain barrel is a large barrel or tank that’s connected to the downspout of your gutter that collects rainwater. Of course it’s not safe for drinking; however, it’s excellent for watering plants.

rainwater barrel

Idea #4.

Native Landscape

A sustainable landscape plan would start by assessing what plants you have and preserving the native plants. Native landscape is there because it serves a purpose: The main goal is to conserve water, energy, and reduce waste. 

Using native plants in landscaping: Lupine in a Wildflower Garden on the Maine Coast

Idea #5.

Use Eco Friendly Paint with Zero VOC (volatile organic compounds)

Paint that is not eco friendly lets off gasses that are harmful to the environment. That said, Benjamin Moore has an excellent line of Zero VOC paints with very little order, great coverage, and quick drying.

Paint in a can

Idea #6.

When You Can’t Use Solar, Opt for LED Bulbs

I didn’t really know much about LED until we recently had an electrician update the lighting  in our basement/ crawlspace. He told me our new bulbs would probably last 30 years and won’t need to be replaced. That’s just crazy to me! It’s a no brainer…I’m doing LED all over the house now.

LED lighting

Idea #7.

Properly Insulated Energy Efficient Windows

Energy efficient windows are made to keep the warm air in and the cold air out. Some are also made to protect furniture and flooring from UV rays.  Keeping the temperature regulated in your house will keep your energy bills down.

Idea #8.

Blur the Lines Between Indoor and Outdoor Spaces

Having a beautiful outdoor space is now more common than ever. People are choosing to spend more and more time outside. That said, large sliding doors, bifold doors, garage doors, or French doors may be used to open up your space and enjoy the weather.

Idea #9.

Outdoor Furniture

Outdoor furniture is an easy way to help with the sustainability initiative. There’s no need to buy an expensive matchy set. The bohemian look is IN and definitely works well with recycled furniture and furniture made from pallets.  Also look for the FSC (Forest Steward Council) certification saying your is created from a responsibly managed forest.

wooden porch furniture

Idea #10.

Install a Bat House

No more spraying pesticides that are harmful for your yard and pets. Bats eat almost 70% of their body weight in insects every night.  Invest in a bat house to keep the bats around and insects out. You’ll find that you have fewer mosquitos, which will lead to more time spent outdoors as well as a green environment. 

bat house

Idea #11.

Create a Compost Pile for Soil

This is a way to let your food scraps work for you! According to Good Housekeeping, about 30% of what we throw away are food scraps and yard waste. This not only reduces methane gas but also provides healthy soil for  trees, and plants grown in the area. So not only do your plants look better but you have less garage filling landfills.  


Idea #12.

Siding… Try Fiber-Cement

An important factor in green architecture and sustainability starts with a durable product that will stand the test of time.  It has to handle environmental elements such as: water, heat, UV radiation, extreme weather and temperature changes. James Hardie was selected as part of the Green Builder Magazine award for “Most Sustainable Product”  of 2019.”

James Hardie Siding
Hardie sustainable siding

Idea #13.

Try a Living Wall

Not only is a living wall beautiful, but also offers great health benefits and increased energy.  Green walls are natural air-filters. They metabolize harmful toxins and release oxygen, creating a cleaner environment.

Sustainable exteriors: Living wall

Idea #14.

Stone Walkway

Stone has been called, Mother Nature’s original green building material. It is a natural durable product of the earth, so using it as a walkway or accent on your home shows that that you are an environmentally conscious consumer… and it helps your curb appeal! For more on walkway styles, click here.

stone walkway
stone patio walkway

Idea #15.

Choose a Metal Roof Over Traditional Shingle

A well installed metal roof will typically last as long as the house. That screams durable.  It’s also 100% recyclable. A metal roof is considered the most environmentally friendly and sustainable roofing material available on the market. Check out what we’ve learned about the benefits of a metal roof, here.

metal roof
metal roof and iron door

In conclusion, you will hear the word sustainability in the years to come.  Many clients are asking us at brick&batten to make choices that are environmentally friendly. We take that seriously and want to help make earth conscious choices. Choices that are sustainable so your children and grandchildren can enjoy! We would love to partner with you on a brick&batten design and help you make sustainable choices. Contact us for more information.