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By: Kevin Ahern on July 15th, 2020

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5 Common Misconceptions About Sustainable Building

Commercial | Residential | Sustainability

Sustainable building (or green building) practices are still relatively new in the world of construction. With new ideas and new concepts come general misconceptions. Don't let these common rumors stop you from building your home or commercial property with sustainable materials and eco-friendly methods

Litchfield Builders is an expert in green building practices in Connecticut. We know how to use sustainable materials in residencies and commercial buildings across the state. In this article, we are going to cover the 5 most common misconceptions about sustainable building practices.

1. Sustainable Building Is too Expensive

Many green materials cost more than traditional materials at the time of purchase. For some consumers, this investment can make sustainable products seem financially unwise or out of reach. However, green building generally costs less than traditional building if you calculate costs over time. 

Green Appliances Are Money-Savers

Don't forget that many green materials, especially appliances, cost less to operate than standard materials. Suppose, for example, that you purchase an ENERGY STAR dishwasher, using less than 4 gallons of water with each use. Standard dishwashers use about 6 gallons of water with each use.

Over the course of the dishwasher's service life (about 12 years), you could save almost 4,000 gallons of water using your energy-efficient dishwasher. In 12 years time, you'll spend around $450 to run the dishwasher (including energy costs and water costs) compared to ~$1,800 otherwise. 

Just imagine if you filled your home up with energy-efficient appliances and other sustainable materials. You'd reduce your home's energy costs, water usage, and natural gas usage, by making that investment in the short-term. 

Eco-Friendly Size = Less Cost

There are other ways that green building can be less expensive. For example, eco-friendly homes are often space-efficient as well as energy-efficient. 

Modest homes are easier to heat, cool, and maintain. If you're building an eco-friendly home from scratch, work with your builder to control the size of the structure and make your home only as large as it needs to be. You'll save money on building materials and enjoy reduced utility costs later. 

Recycled and Reused Materials Can Be Cost-Effective

Some recycled and reused materials cost less than standard materials. Work with your contractor to find reclaimed materials from deconstructed barns, agricultural buildings, industrial buildings and more. Sometimes materials of this kind are even provided for free to anyone willing to take the materials away. 

2. Sustainable Building is a Fad

Green building isn't just a buzzword, and sustainable building practices are more than just a trend. Just this April, Earth Day celebrated its 50th anniversary. For the last 5 decades, friends of the environment and builders have worked together to innovate and improve building practices. Systems ranging from residential solar panels to heat pumps have changed the way we use electricity and water in our homes and businesses.

Today, it's just as easy to find environmentally-friendly materials and products as it is to find traditional products, and in some cases, it's easier. 

Take windows as an example. Single-pane windows were once the standard in all homes. Today, dual pane windows (which are far more efficient than single pane) are the standard and single-pane windows for residential use are almost non-existent. 

3. Traditional Products Work Better

They just don't make them like they used to, and in many cases, that's a good thing. Take for example the transformation that toilets have gone through in the last several decades. 

A toilet installed in a home in 1955 would have used as much as 7 gallons of water with each flush. Today's high-efficiency toilets use 1.3 gallons per flush, saving consumers almost 6 gallons of water with each use of the toilet. A family of four using a high-efficiency toilet can save as much as 13,000 gallons of water each year. 

4. Going Green Is Overwhelming

Sustainability happens by degrees. Start by replacing your light bulbs with LED's. Install a low-flow shower head in your bathroom. Work with a contractor to insulate your attic. Over time, incorporating sustainable building practices into your home improvement projects can lead to accumulated energy, water, and money savings. 

Don't feel like you have to use all sustainable materials in every home improvement project in order to make a difference and improve the efficiency of your home or business.

5. Green Building Can't Make a Difference

According to the 2018 report of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, $26 trillion could be saved by 2030 if the world shifted more completely to sustainable development. Sustainable building practices make a difference, on a micro and macro level.

Switching to sustainable materials and eco-friendly appliances, you'll see a reduction in your utility bills. The more you do this, the more money you'll save. If your neighbors do the same, your community will see a reduction in energy usage and energy spending. If homes across the state and across the country followed the same trends, the impact on our environment would be real and substantial.  

Get Started on Your Sustainable Future

Litchfield Builders helps homeowners and business owners like you to incorporate sustainable building materials into their home improvement projects. To find out more about how we can use eco-friendly building materials in your upcoming construction projects, read our downloadable guide, Sustainability & Green Building in Commercial Construction.

Guide to Sustainability and Green Building in Commercial Construction