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Design Recipes: A sustainable, energy-efficient home

Cathy Hobbs
Tribune News Service

Europe has been the leader for decades and now the United States is finally catching up. The trend right now is to be not only environmentally friendly, but also to not waste resources. Sustainability, many believe, is the key to healthy living. One of the main trends right now relates to building and construction. From sustainable materials that go into building a green home to some of the energy efficient benefits of passive housing, many homeowners are choosing to build and renovate their homes in a more environmentally friendly way.

Getting started

If you are looking to create a green home, understand it will not happen overnight. Living green and even building green is a process that is helped by pre-planning. Here are some tips for a greener lifestyle:

Source locally. Locally sourced materials not only help the environment by creating a narrow carbon footprint, but they are also in many cases more special than what you may find elsewhere.

Focus on materials. These days there are so many green options as it relates to materials, no one will have a problem finding a sustainable, eco-friendly choice. When you are looking for materials, begin by focusing on the most inhabited areas of the home, such as kitchens and baths. With rooms where you spend a lot of time, you certainly want to make sure are as healthy as possible.

Focus heavily on energy efficiency. Wasting energy, specifically how the home is heated and cooled, should be one of the main areas of focus. Looking to build a home from the ground up? Why not consider building a passive house? Passive homes are the ultimate in home efficiency and part of a growing movement.

The color green

Green is a color that many people associate with health and healthy living. With greenery being this year’s color of the year, expect to see even more green. Green will be the dominant color on the runways, then we will see it pass on to home furnishings. In general, green is a fresh, clean color that pairs especially well with light neutral colors such as white, taupe and gray.

Common misconceptions

One of the biggest misconceptions about green living is that it is more expensive. In many instances, it’s easy to get wasteful by purchasing products that are poorly made or lackluster performers. As a result those items are discarded and new ones purchased. Eco-friendly products in many instances are extremely well made and may be more durable and long-lasting. Eco-friendly materials may even end up saving you money.

Cathy Hobbs, based in New York City, is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design and home staging expert with offices in New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. Contact her at or visit her website at