Going Green: How Home Builders Keep the Environment in Mind During Construction
From clean air inhaled with every passing moment to breathtaking natural Florida landscapes embraced each day, the environment that surrounds the Suncoast – and across our planet – is what creates and sustains life. Now, arguably more than ever, our world has shined a spotlight on sustainability and prioritized investments in green policies and technology. And believe it or not, this focus on the environment isn’t lost on local home builders nationwide, like our team at Lee Wetherington Homes, as popular destinations like Southwest Florida continue to grow.
In fact, according to a 2021 story published by Forbes, the engineering and construction industries have made the most progress toward sustainability with forward-thinking designs. For our team – and many home builders across the country – creating an incomparable custom home for customers involves meticulously crafting designs and executing construction in a way that minimally impacts the environment. Here are several ways home builders keep sustainability in mind.
Greater value in green spaces
Private developments naturally need a significant amount of space for constructing neighborhoods with hundreds of homes. Star Farms at Lakewood Ranch, Sanctuary Cove in Palmetto and the many ongoing projects across the nation’s fastest-growing multigenerational community are excellent examples. While our team clears homesites, eliminating brush and wooded areas for safe construction, we also plant trees and create green spaces – natural buffer zones – that separate wildlife from civilization. This technique not only adds to a homebuyer’s property value but is a considerable step toward sustainability.
Among many bullet points noted in the National Association of Home Builders’ Sustainability and Green Building Overview is ensuring a homesite design minimizes disruption and preserves open spaces. The Willowbend community in Osprey, where Lee Wetherington Homes was the developer and exclusive builder in 2002, is an excellent example of this commitment to the environment. Our team donated 16.31 acres of untouched land, valued at over $800,000, to buffer nearby Oscar Scherer State Park from surrounding urbanization in the area.
Efficiency across the design phase
Air quality and rising energy costs are relatable to everyone – including our team. The residential construction industry has taken considerable steps toward reducing the environmental footprint of each home created. There are several innovative tactics builders have utilized throughout home designs, ensuring HVAC systems are operating efficiently and less energy is consumed.
High levels of insulation and a quality HVAC system are both imperative. But high-performance windows – environmentally friendly panes that can block more than 70% of solar heat gain – are another important advancement in our industry. Energy-efficient appliances and lighting simply make sense and look spectacular in a special custom home.
Materials with minimal impact
According to the U.S. Green Building Council, constructing a 2,500-square-foot structure can create roughly two tons of waste. For this reason, many home builders have opted for recycled materials, high-performance engineered wood and allergen-free products. Investments in sustainably harvested wood – trees that are cut and promptly replaced – has also become a more common practice.
These implementations within the residential construction industry, in turn, create homes with greater durability. For Lee Wetherington Homes, increasing the lifespan of a custom home and preserving impeccable resale value has remained our priority.
Generally recognized green standards
Not only does the NAHB offer resources for environmentally friendly residential construction, but there are statewide organizations that also encourage innovation. The Florida Green Building Coalition provides programs that place sustainability and economic benefits at the forefront of our industry. In fact, Lee Wetherington Homes was recognized in 2016 by the coalition as one of the top 15 builders of sustainable homes.
Our team has even employed the FGBC’s Green Building Standards since March 2005 and became the first home builder in Sarasota and Manatee counties to strictly use ENERGY STAR-certified appliances in 2007. These standards have since become commonplace. However, we believe there will always be room for improvement, creating a better long-term investment when you’re ready to design and build a forward-thinking custom home.