Sustainable Building Materials

Want to go green? The right building materials can make all the difference.

Sustainable Building MaterialsWhat’s the most important thing to consider when you start a home construction project? You might say it’s the design, or even the location. But when it comes to daily life in your home, there’s no question that the most important element is the construction materials themselves–from the foundation to the roof over your head.

A home construction project is one place where sustainable materials and practices can make a huge difference–keeping your family safe and reducing your home’s carbon footprint for years to come.

Today, it’s easy to go green with sustainable building materials that are not only eco-friendly, but safe and energy-efficient. Have you considered these options for your home construction project?

The Top 4 Types of Sustainable Building Materials

  1. Recycled or renewable materials. One of the best ways to make your home more sustainable is to use recycled or sustainable construction materials. Almost every construction material imaginable can be found in a recycled or renewable form today. Even concrete from demolished buildings is commonly recycled, which greatly reduces demolition waste (and, in some cases, even makes the recycled concrete stronger). 

    On the renewable side, look for woods and other products that are sustainably harvested. Sustainably harvested lumber for building can be certified by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or the SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative), both of which monitor for ecologically safe logging practices. When it comes to flooring and interior paneling, you can try fast-growing renewable options like bamboo and cork instead of non-renewable rainforest hardwoods.

  2. Non-toxic materials. One of the benefits of a green home is that it can reduce your family’s exposure to toxic chemicals that are commonly used in the construction. Ask about paints, finishes, siding, roofing, and flooring that are labeled “low-VOC,” or low in volatile organic compounds. You can also ask about recycled alternatives to fiberglass insulation, which is hazardous to touch or inhale, and which actually loses more heat than recycled materials.
  3. Locally sourced materials. The best sustainable building materials for homes are the ones closest to you. When you use locally sourced materials in your construction project, you’re cutting down on the cost and energy it takes to ship those materials to your building site–which, in the case of lumber or concrete, could be quite a lot! You’ll also be giving back to your home area by supporting the industries in your community or state.
  4. Energy-efficient utilities and appliances. It’s no surprise that up-to-date heating, lighting, and plumbing systems can dramatically reduce the amount of energy your home uses. But today, smart home technology can reduce that energy output even further by monitoring occupancy and shutting down systems when no one is at home, and making water heaters and heating systems more precise. Other basic principles of building design, such as maximizing natural light and preventing heat loss, can also make your home more sustainable for years to come.

Interested in building your own green home? Have more questions about construction with sustainable building materials? Contact How Building Services today at 484-841 -8391 or for a free consultation!



perfect kitchen designs

Learn about some of the essentials for a perfect kitchen design.

Whether you are updating your current kitchen or starting from scratch, you probably are paying special attention to your layout and design. These days the kitchen is central to the American home. We ask a lot of our kitchens–we want them to be functional, beautiful, and have a good flow for entertaining. Too much emphasis on any one aspect tends to interfere with the others. Perfect kitchen designs manage to balance all of these factors to create the perfect space for the heart of the home. Here are some tips to obtaining that balance for your dream kitchen design.


5 Tips to Designing the Perfect Kitchen

Designing the kitchen of your dreams isn’t easy. Keep these tips in mind as you plan the perfect kitchen layout design.

  1. Remember the Triangle

    There are three basic essentials of basic kitchen function–the refrigerator, the stove, and the sink. There a number of different kitchen layout styles, but it is essential that the triangle be properly maintained. For the perfect kitchen layout the total distance between all three fixtures should never be less than 10 feet or more than 20 feet. Under 10 and working in the kitchen with other people will feel crowded and overwhelming. Over 20 and it will feel like a hike from one to the other. No matter how tempting it is to break of the triangle for aesthetics or convenience–this is not a mistake you want to make.

  2. Plan for Storage and Counter Space

    It is amazing the amount of stuff we cram in our kitchens. From fresh food to dry goods, from blenders to ice cream makers, those cupboards and counter spaces are critical. If you don’t plan sufficiently for storage and counter space, you are likely to find your cupboards jumbled and and your counters cramped. Take advantage of wasted spaces–for example, over the refrigerator is a perfect place to stow seasonal appliances like that beloved ice cream maker.

  3. Great Lighting

    After you put a lot of time, energy, planning, and resources into designing the perfect kitchen it would be a serious shame for it to have poor or insufficient lighting. You will want good lightening to show off your design efforts as well as to give it a pleasant environment. But most importantly, you will need good lighting to work with. You don’t want to be mincing carrots under a dim light or trying to read a recipe in the shadows. Make sure you have pleasant, adequate lighting–both natural and electric.

  4. The Backsplash

    The backsplash may seem like an aesthetic indulgence–and it does look nice–but it actually is functionally important. A lot of moisture, steam, and and messes happen in a kitchen. All of these have the potential to make a mess of the walls behind the sink and counters. A back splash not only protects the walls for a longer lasting investment, but it also makes everyday cleaning much easier. Wiping splatters off of a material like ceramic is much easier than trying to scrub it off of wallpaper or paint. And a back splash also gives an immediate extra bit of class to a kitchen and offers you a little bit more flexibility in design–colors, materials, patterns, etc.

  5. A Quality Ventilation System

    This is a factor which many people probably don’t give a lot of thought to when deciding on their perfect kitchen layout. Ventilation doesn’t really factor into the aesthetic appearance, or functionality, but it does affect the atmosphere. If you don’t want odors from last night’s meal, or the smoke from that burnt toast lingering in your new kitchen indefinitely, then invest in a good ventilation system. A quality ventilation system will actually remove those bad odors and replace them with fresh air. This way the scent of day old salmon and apple pie aren’t the first thing your guests smell when they step through the door.

For more perfect kitchen design ideas, or for help making your dream home a reality, contact How Building Services today for expert advice. Call 484-841-8391 today and make your perfect kitchen design a reality.