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The Top Five Do-It-Now

TreeEnvironmental Performance

New Construction

  1. Make the best use of your site. Consider developing in brownfields or select a site that minimizes resident's daily commutes. When choosing where your home will sit on the site, follow low impact development principles to minimize the amount of storm water runoff. When building, specify areas for tree preservation to minimize the number of trees that are cut down or damaged.

  2. Use resources efficiently. Consider using optimum-value engineering, modular or panelized walls to reduce wasted lumber. When selecting wood products, look for certified sustainable or local wood-products. And remember bigger isn't always better; build appropriately sized houses to limit environmental impacts.

  3. Conserve water. Install rainwater harvesting systems or use greywater for irrigation, and be sure to install laminar or other low-flow fixtures and fittings. See our Energy Efficiency Top Five for top energy-saving ideas.

  4. Build for healthy indoor air quality. Use mold and moisture-resistant products in kitchens, bathrooms and basements. Size HVAC equipment and seal ducts properly. Use low-VOC paints, carpeting and flooring.

  5. Minimize the damage of demolition by deconstructing the home and salvaging materials. When buying construction materials, choose products that can be recycled or donated when you no longer need them. Follow guidelines for hazardous material disposal.


  1. Landscape to enhance the home's comfort. Strategically placed plants and shrubs can lower heating bills by up to 30%. Select native greenery to reduce watering.

  2. When remodeling, install recycled-content, reused, or sustainable materials such as eco-friendly wood flooring, recycled content carpet, Forest Stewardship Council-certified cabinets, and plastic composite lumber.

  3. Look for ENERGY STAR qualified models when replacing appliances. See our Energy Efficiency Top Five for more energy-saving ideas.

  4. Seal ductwork and air leaks around windows and doors to lower energy bills and improve comfort.

  5. Embrace recycling. Design a central recycling center in the kitchen or pantry. During renovations, recycle or donate any extra materials or waste you may have created.

Content updated on 2/13/2008

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