2022 Advances Green Building

Safety and design are at the forefront of green home building.

By Camille Manaloto

Since the rising trend of healthy homes peaked in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the green home building industry has had some of its most significant advancements. The industry has seen big builders and small builders alike make the switch to more sustainable building practices. Changes can be seen across the board from safety features to interior design.

Safety Features

Every January and July, there are modifications and changes made to the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET). RESNET ANSI Standards Manager, Rick Dixon, explained these initiatives in his column this month. Some changes include new training qualification requirements, updating software and expansion of existing standards.

 “Buyers want to know their home is going to help keep them healthy.” -Lita Dirks, CEO and Principal, Lita Dirks and Co. Interior Design.

This year, it seems like more rigorous standards are being set by third party certifiers and are being upheld by builders all across the country. Karla Butterfield is the Sustainability Director at Steven Winter Associates and will be speaking at the International Builders’ Show (IBS). In her column “Raising the Standard,” she shares with readers what third-party certification means for architects, engineers and consumers. 

“As design and construction professionals, we can leverage these programs to deliver healthier, more comfortable, and more accessible environments,” Butterfield said.

Doug Walter is a Denver-based architect and a speaker at the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS). He highlights the value of designing stairs with safety at the forefront. He explains that with extra care, this initiative can be more beneficial to the homeowner than they realize. 

Stairs are a feature that carpenters tend to neglect safety wise in order to save space. Walter shares several tips for carpenters to create a safer home. These tips include having a gentler rise, longer runs and having a second railing, just to name a few. 

Walter will be presenting an accessible design class at KBIS 2022 called “Kitchens and Baths for All: A Fresh Look at Abilities.”

Safety continues to be on the minds of homebuilders and designers. In his column, Adam Gibson, President of Adam Gibson Design and KBIS speaker, also discusses safety in design. He is a proponent of safety, and welcomes the challenge of designing for longevity, integrating it seamlessly into the design of the homes. 

Healthy Home Design

In an article by Architectural Digest, interior design experts weighed in on their thoughts about home design trends that will rise in 2022. One trend that was popular last year seems like it is here to stay. 

Biophilic design is a design concept using natural materials to decorate a space. Since the pandemic began, more and more homeowners have found comfort in filling their homes with plants and other natural materials. Architectural Digest reports that “contemporary conservatories” are the more sophisticated take on the trend. 

In her column, CEO and Principal of Lita Dirks and Co. Interior Design and IBS speaker, Lita Dirks also suggests that biophilic design will be significant this year, promoting wellness as well as connection to nature.

“Buyers want to know their home is going to help keep them healthy,” Dirks said. “Floor plans that facilitate indoor/outdoor living, accentuating natural light, the use of natural materials and creating special places that emphasize ‘home as sanctuary,’ will continue to be important design elements.”

Biophilic design doesn’t stop at just plants. Designers and homeowners alike are using this design style everywhere. From replacing plastic and metal furniture with wood and stone to using rugs made of natural materials like hemp and wool.

Many of these switches are not only better for the environment, but for the health of one’s home as many ??of these natural materials are durable and resist shedding, are non-allergenic and nontoxic, according to a Bob Vila article on environmental design trends.

2022 is bringing a fresh new perspective to the world of green home building. Consumers are more involved now than ever before in not only the design process but the building process as well. Buyers are doing their research to make sure their home is up to standard and safe for themselves and their families.

Designwise, people are stepping out of the box and designing their homes uniquely for themselves. Individuals are stepping away from traditional trends and taking bits and pieces to create their own trends to better match their personalities, creating their own sanctuaries. This year is already proving to be exciting in the design world and we’ve only just begun. 

Camille Manaloto is the Editor of Green Home Builder Magazine. She may be reached at camille@builder.media.