The Whole Package – Green Home Materials

Sometimes finding that perfect house seems a lot like finding the perfect partner – nigh impossible. A house has to have character. It needs to be located in just the right intersection of any number of sociological and political boundaries ranging from school zones to ethnicity. It needs to be the right size, shape, age, color and much more. It needs to be affordable. Often times a house will have everything you want, a pool, lawn, etc., but then one deal breaker throws off the arrangement.

Finding the perfect “green” home is considerably more difficult – especially since most people don’t even know what attributes to look for in a “green” home. Thankfully one has the option to simply build a custom green home from scratch – an option otherwise unavailable in any metaphorical dating situation. Yet even here there is some difficulty in recognizing what to pay attention to and what to blow off as just more hot air in a cloud of exhaust.

For those looking for the deep-reaching sustainability of a complete green home package, outlined below are 5 categories, roughly derived from LEED green building standards that will result in the complete package and the ideal eco-friendly home.

Location, location, location!

Selecting an appropriate site is the foundation of sustainability. In green building as in real estate, it’s all about location, location, and location. In terms of eco-friendly housing, this means designing and locating the home in the least invasive manner possible – sparring existing habitat and minimizing building footprint. This requires a certain finesse and sensitivity of site that most suburban tract development does not possess.

Green Home Materials and Resources

Green building involves a life-cycle approach to how a home functions. This means that the overall sustainability of the house is often times either christened or utterly invalidated by the mere selection of what particular materials to use and where to get them from. This often entails “going local” since sourcing basic materials such as stone and wood from local suppliers reduces both transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions and transportation costs.


Conserving water is a no brainer. The hard part is how? First, minimize the lawn. Lawns are notorious guzzlers of water. Rather than a monotonous carpet of Kentucky Bluegrass, true green homes look to play up the inherent beauty of the Texas hill country. Landscaping can be aesthetically augmented with drought resistant xeriscaping and climatically adapted vegetation. For the house itself, invest in low-flow toilets and sinks connected to a grey-water system that diverts waste water to irrigation rather than the sewers. As always, collect rain and store it.


A green home should be as much about the health of the occupants as well as the health of the exterior environment. The Environmental Protection Agency has ranked indoor air pollution as the fourth largest environmental risk to public health. Green homes seek to alleviate that through careful selection of materials and avoidance of volatile organic compounds, such as formaldehyde, commonly found in paints and wood laminates such as plywood.


Buildings consume 40% of energy and 75% of electricity produced in the United States today contributing in the process in the range of 2236 million metric tons of CO2 per year. The ideal eco-home would produce its own energy achieving net-zero status. This can be most readily accomplished through the implementation of photovoltaic solar panels. The sun provides near limitless power which coupled with high-quality insulation and envelope design, appropriate building massing and orientation, and energy-efficient appliances and systems, can put your home entirely off the grid.

In pursuit of the perfect home, the impact on people and on the earth cannot be ignored. In fact green homes must go above and beyond being merely well-rounded and aspire to fully address each of the five categories above. After all, a house is not really a person. It is a machine. It is a culmination of each part and piece working in tandem to create the perfect living microcosm, the perfect home, and the whole package.