They can utilize different forms of alternative fuel sources. This is very important as it powers the entire building and utilizes much of our nations energy. The buildings can use solar and wind power in combination with other alternative fuel sources. Also insulation is very important.
One way is to use different materials in the construction of the house. For example, sustainable, self-finishing materials like bamboo and concrete do less harm to the environment. Additionally, the way the house is constructed can be considered. There are many benefits to pre-fabrication of housing: A central building location can reduce the CO2 usually required to ship different parts from different areas of the country. Furthermore, if houses are pre-fabricated, there is a possibility that the parts can be re-used in a new pre-fabricated home.
As mentioned in previous answers, using sustainable materials and methods to build is one way; and choosing alternative energy solutions is another way. There are many other ways to build “green” or sustainable buildings including designing a building to utilize its best natural heating/cooling systems or ventilation, orienting the building a certain direction facing North, South, East, West, or building appropriate solarshading devices. In terms of conserving energy, aim for a “net-zero” building. In terms of materials and methods, aim to use local resources and construction methods (materials and workforce). Transporting materials and workforce costs fuel. Utilization of local materials and methods are most likely best-delivered by local workforce.
For more informtation, consult AIA, USBGC, and local architecture and construction firms that focus on sustainability.
For a more philosophical understanding of sustainability, especially on a global scale, consult William McDonough’s book “Cradle-to-Cradle”.
[img_assist|nid=202514|title=Cradle Cover|desc=Cradle-to-Cradle by William McDonough|link=none|align=left|width=70|height=100]
For guidelines, consult AIA and LEED.
There are many possibilities. Buildings made of natural, local, indigenous fibers are a great version of permaculture (see link below for more info). Also, if you can get away with it, open-air structures that do not utilize central heating and cooling are extremely efficient. It’s also a good idea to use recycled building materials, which can be found at the link below for the Building Materials Reuse Association nonprofit org.
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