Tag Archives: environmentally friendly

Home Trends – Cozier, More Efficient, and Greener

For many home buyers here in Austin, Texas, and around the country, their next home will be smaller than their current home.  Buyers are willing to eliminate some of the most popular features of homes built five years ago which include media rooms and extra bedrooms. These changes are dictated in large part by the uncertain economy, and the green-living movement.  In large part, we’re getting back to cozy and soulful homes and away from cavernous structures.

The new trend for home buyers is toward energy-efficient, cozy homes which focus more on living areas- including outdoor areas- rather than on individual rooms.   And if you’re staying put in your current home this year, you may want to make some of these improvements to add more comfort and efficiency to your home.

1.  Roomy kitchens, with a center island and granite counter-tops. Trends include induction cooking (30% more efficient than gas or electric) and stone composite sinks that are more durable and easier to keep clean than stainless sinks.  Stone composite sinks also have a cleaner look because they’re built into a countertop.

2.  Green features like energy-efficient appliances, efficient insulation, high window insulation efficiency and ceiling fans.  Better insulated refrigerators and environmentally friendly cabinetry are trending.  Though widely available abroad, dual-flush toilets—with separate mechanisms to handle liquid or solid waste—are gaining attention here, says Lenora Campos with Toto USA, a leading toilet manufacturer.

3.  A home office or study area in place of a formal dining room.  People use home offices so much more than formal dining rooms!

4.   A master bedroom on first floor.  This is particularly in demand for baby-boomers who don’t want to subject themselves to the daily stairs. Laundry rooms on the first floor.

5.   Oversize showers with seating areas and soaker tubs.

 6.  Outdoor living areas with all the coziness of an indoor area.  This is made possible with outdoor carpets, weather-proof artwork and outdoor draperies for privacy.

7.  Neutral color palettes such as white and beige or gray and pink, with bold accents.  Neutral earth tones offer serenity, enlarge a small space, and create coziness and warmth.  Pink, especially with a pearlized finish, is popular as an accent because of its perceived healing power.  It’s also a fire element in Feng Shui and adds warmth to a space.

Valuable Resources for Green Living

bambooAn important tool in the effort to build greener buildings and live greener lives is the selection of products that were made using environmentally friendly processes and are used in environmentally friendly ways.

Green products are available for just about any daily need, and the ways they are green are many and varied: They are energy or water efficient; they use healthy, non-toxic materials; they are made from recycled or renewable sources; they make current products you use more efficient or more durable; and they are recyclable or biodegradable, among many other things.

But among all the truly green products comes the risk of “greenwashing;” that is, products that are advertised as green without truly offering environmental or health benefits.


The ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) provides the following list of resources on their website www.asid.org.  The directories below can help you sort through the claims and find the products that best meet your needs.


1- GrenSpec Directory www.buildinggreen.com

The online GreenSpec® Directory lists product descriptions for over

2,100 environmentally preferable products. Products are chosen to be

listed by BuildingGreen editors. They do not charge for listings orsell



2- GREEN BUILDING PAGES www.greenbuildingpages.com

Green Building Pages is an online sustainable design and decision-

making tool for building industry professionals and environmentally

and socially responsible consumers.


3- GREEN2GREEN www.green2green.com

Green2Green.org features comprehensive information regarding

green building products, materials and practices. The site offers side-

by-side comparisons of products using a variety of environmental, technical and economic criteria.


 4-OIKOS www.oikos.com

Oikos is a World Wide Web site devoted to serving professionals whose

work promotes sustainable design and construction.


 5- THE GREEN GUIDE www.thegreenguide.com

National Geographic’s Green Guide offers staff-written reviews of a host

of products, ranging from appliances, home furnishings and home

improvement products to personal care and pet supplies.


 6- GOOD TO BE GREEN www.goodtobegreen.com

Good To Be Green is a directory of green building products,

sustainable building materials and green building service providers.

Products must: be made out of recycled materials; ensure a low

environmental impact during the construction, operation and/or

demolition of the building; conserve natural resources like energy,

wood and water; and improve air quality.