Sustainable design serves double duty

The ultimate goal is to not just to use less resources, but to build homes that residents will be proud to call their own. A house or apartment needs to welcome us with attractive design before we can make it our home and care for it as such. Low utility bills and high quality indoor air alone cannot create a sense of ownership.

  • A home has to be attractive and comfortable for residents to appreciate its other assets, like its resource efficiency.
  • Resident attention to maintenance is important in achieving the durability that green building promises and lets the residents know they have an ongoing and necessary stewardship responsibility.
  • Ease of use is even more important when lifestyle changes are a goal. For example, a composting bin needs to make composting look simple if residents are to use it, likewise with recycling programs. A tree-lined, well-lit sidewalk encourages a walk to the bus.

A green makeover

Many aspects of green design also contribute to a more attractive home.

  • Daylighting, for one, brings in natural light -- the best kind. Open floor plans bring in the sun and make a larger, welcoming, and adaptable space.
  • Natural ventilation opens up the space and gives residents control over their comfort.
  • Trees give shade, color, and life.
  • Overhangs, awnings, and light shelves can become distinctive design features.

Beauty pays off

Attractive design can pay off.

  • Community members are always more likely to be in favor of an attractive, high quality building that fits into the neighborhood and is compatible with adjacent up-scale, market rate projects. Design can make an even bigger difference for affordable housing, which has a reputation for being unattractive and cheap.
  • An inviting apartment or home will rent or sell faster and turn over less often.


Affordable Housing Design Advisor

HIP's Artists' Housing Mount Rainier, MD case study