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Myth Busting: It’s best to add on sustainable features after the design is complete

Myth Busting: Add Sustainable Features After the Design Is Complete

By Joy WoodRise Writer
Mar 8, 2018

The long-awaited design stage of home building, renovations, and improvements is an exciting time. You are finally putting daydreams, visions, and plans on paper. Emotions are running high, and there is also that little issue of the budget (or ‘the b-word’). Those of you that have had extended ‘discussions’ over the best use of space know what we mean.

In a rush to reach an agreed-upon plan that fits both personalities and cost considerations, sustainable features can often get pushed to the side. The result is thinking: ‘I’ll get on that once we’ve finalized the actual plans.’ However, this path is the wrong way to go about it.

Natural Resources Canada points out that when it comes to smart design practices for energy-efficient buildings, the most critical time is at the very beginning. This phenomenon is because inefficiencies at the beginning of a home build or renovation can last for decades. While being energy efficient from the get-go is not only more effective, it will be less expensive in the long run”. 

house drawings

Integrated Design Process

Using a building design method similar to an integrated design process (IDP) means taking an approach that achieves performance, environmental, and social goals while sticking to a budget and schedule. It relies upon a multidisciplinary and collaborative team whose members make decisions together based on a shared vision and a holistic understanding of the project”. This approach was initially used in high-performance commercial buildings but can be translated easily into residential builds.

For example, the defining features of a PassiveHaus don’t reside in the individual parts, like triple-paned windows and exterior doors or the perfect insulation, but rather in the design. These homes start with ‘the big picture,’ from south-facing windows for passive heat gain to envisioning the future, which takes into account how the family size and needs will change over time. This flexible, forward-thinking leads to a design that is not only more sustainable but as an individual as the owner and their family.

Add Ons Mean Extra Costs

An ‘add on’ traditionally means extra expenses, above and beyond what the initial design included. Anyone who has done any building or renovating knows that it is rarely, if ever, a linear process. It's more of a circuitous route to completion, as you meet challenges and reach solutions. By attempting to incorporate sustainable features after the design is complete, it means that the costs can rise significantly beyond initial estimates.

design team

Find a Design Team That ‘Gets You’

In the spirit of IDP, it’s clear that one of the essential points, when you’re putting your dreams into action, is working with a designer, architect, or builder who shares your vision. You’ll know pretty quickly if you’re on the same page when it comes to design and features. At the project’s inception, shop around to find your perfect match. Then iterate, iterate, iterate, until you’ve arrived at a design that incorporates your hopes, dreams, and your version of sustainability – all within budget. 

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2020-04-06T17:20:30+0000
Joy Wood

Article by:

Joy Wood

Joy grew up in the natural beauty of the North Okanagan, nestled near the foot of the Monashee Mountains. Hailing from a family of home builders, both the environment and home construction became closely intertwined in her youth. Today, she and her builder hubby are raising their family in Vancouver, where she avidly follows the current sustainable construction trends as the city aims for the title of ‘Greenest City’ by 2020.