Is Your Green Home Really Making an Impact

Posted On 30 Mar 2024
Comment: Off

By: Evelyn Long

Every environmentalist is upgrading their home to reduce carbon footprints or bank on tax incentives to reverse climate change. News outlets and social media love to tout the benefits of each green renovation, but which ones are making a notable difference in the fight? Building strategies and techy home features are the foundations for sustainable design, so dive into some of the most popular to determine their validity.

Climate Change and Green Building Strategies

The current state of the climate crisis has necessitated regulatory action and third-party compliance organizations like LEED to drive down building emissions. Structures produce 42% of carbon, comprising a few categories, like cement and operational energy impacts.

Urbanization is expediting the climate crisis, and if humanity wants to keep up with development, more sustainable construction must occur as soon as possible. These are some of the most well-known strategies in eco-friendly building.

Passive Solar Design

Passive solar design uses awnings, windows, and specific wall and flooring materials to collect or deter sunlight. It stores heat within the house and gradually releases it. Normalizing this building method over more carbon-intensive, conventional techniques is a surefire way to combat climate change.

This is one of the most impactful ways to design a building. Even in a combined setup where a boiler is still present, passive solar could help a house reduce its emissions by up to 50.3%. A passive solar structure may cut carbon by 85% if owners optimize it perfectly.

Modular Construction

Modular construction seeks to expand housing opportunities while focusing on more sustainable components and decreasing waste. A London case study of 900 houses discovered modular builds had 45% fewer carbon emissions during construction than stick-built options, offering another low-carbon way to build compared to stick-built structures. Eliminating environmental damage from the supply chain and manufacturing process is as vital as operational emissions, and modular construction will permanently impact worldwide building emissions.

Sustainable Cooling

This manifests in countless creative ways, including installing green or cool roofing and low-emittance windows to prevent heat entry. Such tactics capture or deter hot UV rays from entering the home, reducing energy consumption. 

Cool roofs — usually white to reflect light — may drop indoor temperatures up to 5.9˚ Fahrenheit, which would be critical for solving issues like urban heat islands. This is making a positive impact on climate change by cooling the most densely populated cities through reduced energy consumption and pollutants, which gives urbanization such a bad reputation.

Landscaping and Paving

It’s time to consider the home’s other sustainable qualities — water conservation and weather resilience. Installations like permeable pavers control heavy rains, redirecting them away from the house and potentially into green areas or underground aquifers. Landscaping with trees and shrubs also captures water while providing other benefits, such as air purification and shading. 

Landscaping is more of an adaptive measure because these strategies may not have been necessary if severe weather conditions weren’t as common as they are now. However, it’s a valuable precedent for climate-resilient homes while other building and construction techniques reduce climate change’s impact.

Green Home Features and Their Effectiveness

Designing a blueprint to be green from the ground up is only possible with renovations and new builds. How effective are retrofits and sustainable home features on a property’s climate impact?


Advanced insulation is critical for reversing climate change because it stops pollutants and gases commonly leaking into the atmosphere, like nitrogen and sulphur oxide from natural gas and propane. Using nontoxic, eco-friendly insulation protects the home’s envelope and keeps air quality healthy.

Insulating often forgotten areas like garages could net an 85% return on investment from salvaged energy costs alone. Auditing attics, crawl spaces, sheds and other regions will have surprising environmental benefits, including:

  • Lowering food waste emissions with better preservation.
  • Cutting HVAC costs.
  • We are reducing health care expenses by blocking air pollutant entry.
  • We are eliminating noise pollution.

Green Materials

Prioritizing green building materials has one of the longest-lasting environmental impacts. These options consist of reclaimed, recycled, and ethically produced sources. They positively impact climate change by forcing companies to change how they interact with nature, discouraging deforestation and clear-cutting. Organizations like the Forest Stewardship Council certify and oversee forests with proper regrowth and care standards.

Additionally, found materials or fast-growing plants like pallets and bamboo are plentiful and sturdy for many home projects. Using them promotes a circular economy, critical for sustained decarbonization for upcoming generations.

Intelligent Features and Efficient Appliances

The Internet of Things makes homes smarter and greener than ever. Their self-awareness from sensors and monitoring systems informs households what actions to take to reduce emissions, but the gains from this vary.

Automation can handle turning off lights or setting a thermostat for residents, but intelligent appliances and energy usage also depend on individual behaviours. Knowing temperatures, indoor air quality and water use is critical, but incorporating resource-efficient appliances like those approved by Energy Star and WaterSense compounds the benefits further. Smart devices and appliances could reduce global consumption by 3%–5% as more homes incorporate them.

Renewable Energy

Arguably, the most prominent carbon-reducing home feature is the installation of renewable energy infrastructure. Depending on the home’s current energy usage, it can bring emissions down to 2.5 tons yearly. It does not matter if a house picks solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal or anything in between — all are beneficial. Combining this with an awareness strategy to minimize use goes a long way toward lowering global building emissions.

A Green Home’s Footprint

Every eco-conscious upgrade to a building is worth investing in, though some yield more benefits than others. These culminations will decarbonize the building industry, and no solution exists. Reducing temperatures and emissions from these strategies will fight climate change by letting the atmosphere heal.

Making a home more sustainable requires considering lifestyles and budgets alongside accessibility and impact. While renewable energy may have a more prominent effect than installing an eco-friendly dishwasher, everyone moves at their own pace. So long as the dedication is there, each home’s carbon footprint will decrease.


Evelyn Long is a writer and editor focused on construction and sustainability. Her work can be found on Renovated, a web resource for better building and design.


About the Author