All over the world, the effects of climate change are undeniable, and one thing is certain: we all play a part. We also have the power to make change.

Now more than ever, individuals are actively seeking to curb their own carbon footprints by making choices that positively impact the environment. Often, this resonates in many small ways, like recycling and composting. But today’s homebuilders have started to think bigger, too.

Take, for example, Simon and Donna Beckmann, who founded the artist residency Joya: AiR in Spain. According to a recent Architectural Digest article, the British couple committed to building a completely sustainable, carbon neutral home. In other words, they do not release any carbon emissions into the environment, and are totally self-reliant when it comes to energy and heat.

At Smith Brothers, we’re always inspired by stories like this, and we love helping our clients make smart, sustainable choices that will impact their lives—and the planet—for years to come. If you’re interested in building an environmentally-friendly custom home, here are six ways to get started.


This may sound like complicated science mumbo jumbo, but a photovoltaic solar energy system (or PV system, for short) essentially boils down to the use of solar panels, which absorb and convert sunlight into clean, emission-free electricity for your home. Direct translation: lower electric bills, and a significantly smaller carbon footprint.

With today’s technologies, PV systems have become much more commonplace than they were even five years ago, and they can be seamlessly integrated into the design of your custom home. Most often, the panels are installed on the roof for maximum sun exposure and minimal visual clutter.


Once you’ve chosen to install a PV system, you’re way ahead of the curve. But what happens when your solar panels produce more energy than you can use? Or, what if there’s a power outage? Enter the Tesla Powerwall battery storage unit, which ensures that your emission-free energy is stored for later use instead of wasted.

The Powerwall allows you to use solar energy on demand instead of being confined to the schedule of the sun, which means more bang for your buck, and further independence from your utility supplier.


Using modern, double-paned windows throughout your home is much more efficient than older models—in more ways than one. Perhaps most significantly, double-paned windows provide better insulation, and thus reduce energy use when heating and cooling your home. The benefits are twofold: you burn less fossil fuels and create fewer greenhouse gas emissions while also saving more money.

On top of that, you can add in a low-emittance, or Low-E, window coating (which lessens the passage of potentially harmful ultraviolet and infrared light through the window without affecting visible light), and the energy it takes to heat and cool your home will be further reduced.


Unfortunately, windows are not the only way your house could potentially leak air. Another way is through insufficient interior insulation.

Enter Icynene spray foam insulation, an environmentally-friendly and long-lasting insulation material that helps control air loss throughout the home, including through floors and around electrical outlets. And if you’re losing less air due to poor insulation, then your cooling and heating systems have to work less hard—which ultimately lowers your bills and uses less energy.


You may have heard of solar heating for swimming pools (like we discussed in this article about building creative swimming pools), but did you know that solar energy can heat domestic water, too?

Like the PV systems described above, solar water heaters use the sun’s thermal energy to heat water.  This is another great way to reduce your dependence upon utility and fossil fuel companies, thus lessening the amount of harmful emissions released. The environment will thank you. And so will your wallet.

So are you ready to go green? We’re ready to help! Contact Smith Brothers to discuss building your dream home today.

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