Blog - Providing Insight into Residential Architecture and Construction

Beneficial Ways to Incorporate "Green" Elements in Home Design

NJ Architect green elements in home designWhen someone hears the word "green," it is no longer just a color that comes to mind. With hybrid cars, energy-efficient appliances and reusable shopping bags being more mainstream, it is no surprise that green, sustainable elements are being incorporated into architecture and residential home design. Sure, there are many behind-the-scenes ways to make a more eco-friendly home, such as advanced house framing techniques, the use of more insulation, quality sealing around windows and doors and even lumber choices, but homeowners also have the opportunity to incorporate green elements in a very visible way.

Recycled Building Materials

Add character and an eco-friendly element to your home by using recycled building materials. Old railroad ties make fantastic ceiling beams, and locally sourced wood cuts down on your home's overall carbon footprint. Scout out old barn wood from the N.J. countryside for flooring, trim or as an accent. Recycled glass countertops offer color, functionality and a stylish conversation piece for a social kitchen. The options are limitless, and your architect has the contacts to help you find the materials you desire..


Minimize the need for artificial lighting by incorporating skylights into your design. Skylights should take up no more than 5 to 15 percent of the overall floor area of a room, but even with their small relative size, they make a big impact. Besides bringing in light, skylights also bring in heat and help with the ventilation of a home. Placement is key; work with your architect to choose the optimal position in a room. Placing a skylight above your bed allows for lovely views of the New Jersey's starry night skies, while centering a skylight better-fills a room with light.


The days of asphalt shingle roofs as an only option are long gone. One of the easiest ways to increase the overall efficiency of your home is by choosing an alternative roofing method. Green roofs, made of grass or other vegetation, are an up-and-coming trend that are beneficial for the natural processes that take place after it rains. Solar shingles are another fun option, which allow you to harness the sun's energy and use it to operate your home. Metal roofs and rubber roofs provide after-use recycling options for homeowners and last must longer than conventional roofs options. All of these options provide an interesting look from the exterior of a home, as well.

Exterior Paint

On the topic of exteriors, choosing the proper paint color goes a long way in eco-friendly design. Choose an aesthetically pleasing hue that also adds to the overall efficiency of your home. Light colors - light grays, yellows, light greens, white - help a home stay cool during the warm summer months, while darker colors - charcoal hues, darker greens, navy blue, etc. - aid in heat retention during chilly New Jersey winters.

Lay of the Land

When you and your architect begin the overall design process, consider the natural features of the tract of land. Design your home around the trees rather than just cutting them down to enjoy the energy-saving and privacy benefits mature foliage offers. For those lots that include a lot of dense vegetation low on the ground yet have less towering trees, consider a reverse floor plan, whereby the bedrooms are on the ground level and the main living spaces are on the second floor.

Whether you want your home to "go green" to minimize your impact on the earth, to reduce your long-term costs or both, there are no shortage of options when it comes to eco-friendly materials and practices. If your knowledge of green design begins and ends with Energy Star-rated appliances, have no fear. As in many other instances, a skilled architect is your very best resource.

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