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Inspiration HomeZero Energy ReadyIndoor airPLUSEnergy StarArchitectureFairhope

Positive Impacts of Sustainable Design

By January 31, 2022March 14th, 2022No Comments

POSITIVE IMPACTS of Sustainable Design

Mobile Bay Magazine Inspiration Home 2021, Designed and developed by WATERSHED

Restoring Habitat

Offers food, water, and shelter to wildlife

Conserving Energy

Home energy use reduced by 72%

Preventing Pollution

Prevents 9.5 tons of CO2 pollution each year

Conserving Water

Total property saves 31,400 gallons of water each year

A Low-Impact Approach

We all live downstream.

When people think of a “green home,” energy conservation and water conservation are top of mind. While these create financial benefits to the homeowner, they also provide community benefits in terms of reducing air pollution and reducing the burden on community water treatment facilities. A low impact approach to landscape design both restores habitat and protects Mobile Bay and our waterways from polluted runoff.

positive impacts of sustainable design example solar panels
zero energy ready home certified

This home is certified Zero Energy Ready through the Department of Energy.

This designation includes stringent requirements for energy conservation, indoor air quality, and water conservation.

The final home is projected to use 72% less energy and over 16,000 gallons less water each year than a typical home. Do the math with your own home’s utility bill to see what a 72% reduction would mean for you!

Energy Use Reduction

Conservation Strategies

While this may be a luxury home, the energy conservation strategies used in the Inspiration Home are almost identical to those we used in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity. A focus on a better building envelope through Energy Star windows, continuous insulation, insulated attic, and thorough air sealing reduces the need for heating and cooling and allows the homeowner to save money with a smaller HVAC system. Energy Star appliances and WaterSense plumbing fixtures do not cost more than other appliances and fixtures, and they create savings. These conservation strategies reduced the home’s energy use by 72%.

insulation

The solar array is currently sized to offset the home’s power use, with batteries to provide emergency backup power for the main floor of the home in the case of an outage. The solar array and battery system can be expanded in the future to offset 100% of the home’s power usage. 

In addition to creating significant savings for the homeowner, the energy use reduction translates into a large reduction in the pollution created by power plants.

It is estimated this home will prevent an estimated 9.5 tons of CO2 pollution from entering our atmosphere each year, as well as large reductions in sulfur dioxide and atmospheric mercury, which end up in our streams, in our seafood, and on our dinner plates.

Water Conservation

Inside and Out

Water is not as expensive as power, and in our rainy area, it’s hard to understand why water conservation is important. By conserving water, the homeowners also enjoy a significant reduction in sewer costs, and they lessen the burden on water treatment plants and sewer systems – a community benefit.

In addition to using WaterSense certified plumbing fixtures inside the home, the landscape of the Inspiration Home is designed with native and adapted plants so that it will not require any irrigation after it is established, except in times of extreme drought. A WaterSense certified irrigation system is provided to help the plants through the establishment period without water waste. The system uses a soil moisture sensor so that water is used only in time of need. In addition to the estimated 16,400 gallons of water saved inside the home annually, WaterSense certified irrigation systems save an estimated 15,000 additional gallons of water per year.
positive impacts of sustainable design watersense plumbing
Being low-maintenance and able to thrive without chemical fertilizers and pesticides is another benefit of the water-conserving landscape. Eliminating the need for the chemicals commonly used in lawn maintenance helps to eliminate a major source of pollution in our waterways.

As much as it rains in Fairhope, less and less of that rain soaks into the ground to recharge our groundwater resources. Every time a new building or road or parking lot is built with impervious surface, more rainwater is sloughed off more quickly into drainage systems and less is allowed to percolate back into the ground. The resulting runoff overburdens our gullies, creeks, and streams, causing erosion, which also pollutes the bay.

The landscape of the Inspiration Home is designed to capture and retain the water running off the home and driveway, which recharges our groundwater resources and prevents pollution in Mobile Bay and other local waterways.

Our area’s native plants that don’t require additional irrigation are also the plants that wildlife, like birds, butterflies and other pollinators, depend on for food and shelter. The landscape is certified as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat, because it offers food, water, and shelter to wildlife, and uses sustainable maintenance practices.

ACTIVITY FOR TOUR GUESTS:

The yard of the Inspiration Home contains each of the “fruit and nut” trees memorialized in Fairhope’s first streets.
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