Talk of The Town: January 2021

Live Sustainably

Green your routine—and your home! This month we’re learning to live more sustainably, from a crash course in green home construction to some of the best eco-friendly brands to support as you refresh your space for the new year.

Take The Lead

Sustainable residential construction is increasingly in the spotlight, as homeowners become more focused on creating energy efficient, eco-friendly spaces to call home.

What is a LEED certified home?
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified homes focus on building healthy, green homes. They incorporate safe building materials and aim to reduce energy and water use to lower utility bills. LEED homes maximize indoor fresh air, prioritizing strategies and materials to minimize potential exposure to airborne toxins and pollutants.

Is building a LEED certified home expensive?
With the right professionals by your side, building a LEED home can be done for the same cost as a “non-green” home. There are many benefits to owning a green home, including energy savings, in addition to other incentives—like discounted homeowner’s insurance and tax breaks.

What about a Passive House?
Passive building goes a step beyond LEED certification. This set of design principles utilizes a rigorous level of energy efficiency standards to ensure the ultimate green home. A passive house is built to be fully air-tight, and aims to design a completely net zero home. Passive homes also seek to be net positive and in many cases can generate enough resources—like electricity from solar panels—to sell back to the utility provider. These world-class homes are certified by the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS).

But you don’t need to build a home from the ground up to leverage these design strategies. In fact, Chicago is home to the first pre-certified PHIUS home renovation! Situated at 4887 N Ravenswood Ave, this stunning home was thoughtfully reengineered to meet PHIUS standards. In addition to PHIUS pre-certification, the home earned the Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERN) status, is Energy Star certified, and earned the Environmental Protection Agency’s Indoor airPLUS label.

Get In, We’re Going Shopping

These eco-friendly brands offer stylish décor options for every style.

This Netherlands-based brand is truly sustainable. Offering a wide range of home organizing and housekeeping products, Brabantia’s products are Cradle to Cradle Bronze Certified—this ensures that their products are made from materials that will not end up in a landfill. Designed to help you reduce your environmental impact, each of their stylish products will help streamline your day-to-day activities. Brabantia is available locally at bedbathandbeyond.com.

Known for its minimalistic vibe, Coyuchi’s textiles are Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Fairtrade-certified, ensuring your purchase is ethical and sustainable. A selection of Coyuchi products also raise funds for 1 Percent for Planet, a group of for-profit companies committed to donating to environmental causes. If prints are more your style, Plover Organic offers amazing GOTS certified options. Made using sustainable dyeing methods, Plover Organic’s line is also guaranteed to be free of harmful substances by Oeko-Tex’s Standard 100. If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind look, check them out. Learn more at coyuchi.com and ploverorganic.com.

Founding members of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, furniture manufacturers Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams are hyper-focused on sustainability. Made in the U.S., each of their pieces are free from fire retardant chemicals, made from sustainably-sourced domestic lumber, and are sealed with low VOC finishes. Though their products tend towards the higher end of pricing, each item is thoughtfully designed to stand the test of time—and the wear and tear of modern living. Learn more at mgbwhome.com.

Don’t overlook the opportunity to green up the little things in life! Made in California since 1948, Heath Ceramics is known for its tableware and tiles. They set out to go zero-waste in 2016 and have come very close to achieving their goal! They also curate a thoughtful selection of eco-friendly products from across the globe that meet their exacting standards for quality and sustainability. Viva Terra is another great option for eco-friendly décor. From recycled glass vases to hand-woven baskets, this sustainable brand is an ideal way to switch up your look. Learn more at heathceramics.com and vivaterra.com.

Designing a Green Home

These eco-friendly home improvements are the perfect way to make your space more sustainable, and potentially increase your home’s value when it comes time to make a move.

Swap thoughtfully
While the initial investment may be pricey, a solar water heater can reduce hot water bills by up to 80 percent. Updating older showerheads and toilets—think anything installed prior to 1994—will reduce water waste too.

Think big
A roof made of metal reflects heat, allowing you to use less energy to keep your home cool. Designed to mimic materials like tile and stone, a metal roof can last for decades too. Green roofs are also incredibly popular, providing natural cooling and additional green space.

Get smart
Home automation is one of the most effective ways to make your home greener. From easy to install smart lightbulbs to hardwired options like smart thermostats and security systems, smart home updates aren’t just for luxury homes. They can be installed affordably and easily, and are a draw for buyers.

Embrace growth
Living walls (a plant-covered wall) go beyond aesthetics—they help reduce energy consumption, maintain humidity levels, and provide natural insulation. If you’re looking for an eco-friendly addition to bring a bit of the outdoors in, a living wall offers a flexible solution.

Explore new materials
If you’re updating your home, it may be time to experiment with new materials. Eco-friendly countertop options like hemp, recycled paper or concrete offer durable, easy to clean surfaces. Natural wallpaper is also an innovative alternative to the conventional option, often made from sustainable resources like seagrass.