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What is Sustainable?

Amidst the growing trend of embracing sustainability, it's rare to find companies who can articulate a clear definition of what 'being green' truly entails. Here at Sustainable 9, we differentiate ourselves by adhering to a framework of 9 fundamental sustainability principles.

Our 9 Principles of Sustainability

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1. Promote Healthy Living

We aim to create a comfortable, safe, and allergy-free living space by using non-toxic materials, clean ventilation, water filtration, and natural light.

2 Prioritize High Performance

2. Prioritize High Performance

We aim to lower the annual operational energy of our homes by investing in the building shell, windows, and mechanical systems.

3 Catch and Store Energy

3. Catch & Store Energy

We aim to lower the carbon footprint of our homes' by offering solutions such as geothermal, PV solar, battery systems, heat recovery, green roofs, and passive solar.

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4. Select Renewable Materials

We aim to reduce the embodied energy of our homes by selecting natural, non-toxic, recycled, low-GWP, and carbon-negative materials.

5 Built to Last V2

5. Built To Last

A home is not a disposable product. We prioritize durability and craftsmanship to ensure our work lasts for generations.

6 Minimize Waste

6. Minimize Waste

We aim to use materials that are locally sourced, responsibly grown, recycled, or reclaimed while making sure all construction waste is properly sorted.

7 Listen and Respond

7. Listen & Respond

We aim to listen attentively to our clients and neighbors and create designs that are responsive to the site and its surroundings.

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8. Plan For The Future

We aim to future-proof our designs by building homes that support the environment, urban density, aging-in-place, and intergenerational living.

9 Educate and Inspire

9. Educate & Inspire

We aim to create thoughtfully designed, inviting spaces that challenge others to build similarly.

Trust Us‚ÄďWe‚Äôre Certified

Every custom home we complete receives third-party certification to verify we are meeting the our sustainability goals. 

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Energy Star

A Federal supported construction standard run by the EPA and DOE, providing certification for homes and buildings that requires at least 15% less energy consumption than current building code requires. All Sustainable 9 homes include this certification.  

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EPA Indoor AirPlus

Indoor airPLUS helps new construction home builders improve the indoor air quality by requiring construction practices and product specifications that minimize exposure to airborne pollutants and contaminants. All Sustainable 9 homes include this certification.

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Zero Energy Ready Home

The DOE Zero Energy Ready Home certification further reduces energy consumption of a home such that a renewable energy system could offset most or all the home's annual energy use. It requires rigorous efficiency and performance criteria, and the home be built "solar ready" or have solar installed. Most Sustainable 9 homes achieve this certification.

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Passive House Institute US

The PHIUS certification is the most committed to drastic energy reductions and the decarbonization of the built environment. This certification requires a Certified Passive House Consultant (CPHC) to be involved in the project from the beginning. While the DOE ZERH certification is achievable with relatively straightforward upgrades to standard construction, the Passive House certification requires a new approach to the entire building envelope. Currently, very few Sustainable 9 homes include this certification.

The anatomy of a high performance home

Use the menu bar to the right to explore the key elements of a high performance home. 

Triple Pane Windows

Windows tend to be the weak point in any wall assembly. Selecting better windows therefore makes a significant impact on the overall performance of your home. High quality windows also reduce drafts through improved air-tightness. Both of these factors make living in your home a more comfortable experience. 

Super Insulation

Upgrading the amount of insulation around the entire building envelope helps reduce energy demands and increase comfort. There are a lot of different strategies to create a super insulated building, but one of the best is exterior continuous insulation (ECI) because it also helps reduce thermal bridges.

Eliminate Thermal Bridges

A typical exterior wall in a home today only has insulation between the studs. The problem with this strategy is there's no thermal protection between the outside and inside of a stud. This creates a thermal bridge and allows thermal energy to move through the stud in-and-out of the home, depending on the season. The solution is to introduce a thermal break to slow down the heat loss through the studs and better insulate the building. 

Airtight Construction

One of the goals of modern construction is to make the building envelope extremely air-tight to prevent infiltration or loss of conditioned air. A small change in the air-tightness of a building can make a big difference in both performance and comfort. 

Balanced Ventilation

In the past, buildings were so leaky that it was not necessary to mechanically bring fresh air into the home. As modern construction becomes more air-tight it becomes increasingly important to both bring in fresh air and exhaust stale air, keeping the air pressure in the home balanced. An energy recovery ventilator (ERV) pre-conditions the incoming outdoor air with the energy of the out-going stale air.  

Upgraded Mechanical Systems

A high performance mechanical system is one that can deliver above average comfort and energy efficiency. Zoning, sizing, and layout all need to be thought through to provide efficient comfort. One of the best ways of increasing energy efficiency today is by using heat pump technology, whether it's an air-source heat pump that sits outside your home and exchanges thermal energy with the outdoor air or a geothermal ground-source pump that exchanges thermal energy with the earth. 

Net Zero

A zero energy home is one that produces as much energy as it consumes. All of the features listed above can help reduce the amount of energy a building consumes, which then reduces the size of the PV solar array needed to reach a 100% offset and become net zero. 

All-Electric

Going all-electric is placing a bet on a greener future. By not connecting any fossil fuels, homes that go all-electric are fully prepared for the on-going transition to 100% clean energy within the electrical grid. Given the current high cost of electricity, high performance matters even more when building an all-electric home. Adding PV solar, geothermal, or exploring incentive programs with your local utility are all great ways of offsetting these higher monthly costs. 

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