California residents pride themselves on staying ahead of the sustainability curve. The state is credited with the success of the solar power industry, and one in two southern California residents actively seeks out local produce, meat, and dairy. However, though you may understand the “farm-to-table” philosophy better than your neighbors to the east, sustainable building and architecture is better left to the professionals.
Find a Green Architect
Working with a skilled, LEED-certified architect is the most effective way to build a sustainable home. An architect will provide you with the full range of necessary professional services; from design and contract building to permits and approvals, these professionals will handle nearly every part of the building process.
Architects, however, are not cheap. It is imperative to have a clear understanding of what you want in a home and in an architect. Make a list of features you want to incorporate—an open floor plan, a specific type of counter, or a back patio may be easily left out of a plan. Moreover, architects provide necessary but expensive advising—you should plan to spend between 10% and 12% of your total construction cost on these services.
LEED Home Builds
An experienced green architect will open up a world of options, but you may also be able to find a more affordable option as more green home builders develop a full catalogue of home build designs.
The LEED Program
LEED, a green certification program, stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design; if you are planning to build a sustainable home, look for LEED-certified architects, or people who have worked on previous LEED building initiatives. The program prioritizes sustainable building and maintenance practices—everything from neighborhood development to reduced water and electricity use. Often, these buildings have some type of renewable energy component, which you can then incorporate into your new home design. You can easily search the LEED directory to see which buildings in your area are certified, then find the architects responsible for their creation.
You may pride yourself on consistently purchasing Fair Trade chocolate. Maybe you had a Prius before anyone else. We understand that, as residents of southern California, you understand the climate and threats to sustainability more acutely than most Americans. However, when it comes to building your home, leave the eco-friendly factors to the professionals.