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Survey Says: Even Normal People Want Sustainability

10 Ways to Test if a Dwelling is Truly Sustainable.

Even in day-to-day life, sustainability matters. Sustainability is about meeting "the demands of today's population without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs for many years." (3)

Brainstorming Sustainability

When thinking about the concept "Sustainability", “recycled” or “organic” usually comes to mind.

Think also: ecology, erosion, health and safety.

Sustainability covers well-being, local economies, social responsibility, environmental accountability, and simple living. (1)

Do people actually care about sustainability?

Yes. A global consumer survey on corporate citizenship, found that 66% of socially conscious consumers selected environmental sustainability as most important, from a list of 18 prominent issues.

People are concerned about what is behind a product, especially air pollution, water pollution.

Folks are also very concerned about packaging wastes, water shortages and pesticide use.

Organics, farmers' markets, and locally made products were seen as having important positive effects on the environment (5)

Who are these sustainable civilians?

A global survey identified the ways "green consumers." are perceived by others: they're responsible, caring, healthy, smart, respected, normal, innovative.

They also care about: conserving natural habitats, ensuring people are fed, reducing pesticide use, using recyclable packaging, and reducing packing material. (7)

Mainstreaming Social Consciousness

Socially conscious consumers use their purchasing power to try to improve the world around them. Consumers report that they rely significantly on their social values before buying. If a product aligns with their values regarding the environment or manufacturing, they'll buy it to support it's positioning on issues.

This mainstreaming shift is aided by improvements in the legislation of environmental and social standards. Corporations are acting upon social responsibility policies as a way to differentiate themselves. Even if it's just from a marketing perspective - it's also helping.

Relationships between purchase behaviors and social issues are also mainstreaming - thanks to social media. Consumers feel the need to manifest their personal values through what they buy. And, they're supporting socially responsible corporations. (2)


"Relative to dollars spent,

a huge positive impact on the environment

can be made via your home purchase.

This directly connects you to

the Sustainable Movement."


Your Largest Sustainable Purchase

Wouldn't it be nice, if One Day the home inspections used for assessments would include scores for sustainable building practises and materials? Costs to the environment plus costs to your family's health and well-being would be counted. Costs of maintaining, wear-and-tear, and daily resource use, would also be included.

Your sustainability survey might then reflect the True Costs of Home . This new "bell curve' of sustainable homes would assess...


use of:

recycled materials

reduced energy and/or water

local, natural or organic ingredients

fair treatment and wages for workers

organic/pesticide-free farming methods

products that create less waste/pollution

non-harmful alternatives to harmful chemicals

materials that don't harm the environment or resource overuse

wood, paper, and cardboard from sustainably managed forest land


In this article, we'll discuss two positive contributions to sustainability: regional building using local, natural and recycled materials, plus locally-appropriate landscaping that protects environmental resources.


"When it comes to stewarding natural resources,

without compromising quality of life

and long term profitability,

many common-sense old-world technologies still stand."


Eco-Cheats vs Common-Sense

Eco-products for builds and renovations lose sustainability points when wrapped, then shipped huge distances from less green regions. Eco-parts assembled regionally may include raw materials shipped from afar.

Green products may be more biodegradable but they still may not benefit the environment.

By reducing greenhouse gas emissions due to transport, the carbon footprint of materials becomes smaller.

In the old days, people used regional materials and local labour. How much common-sense can we salvage sustainably, in a society overwhelmed by abundant options?

Regional Raw Materials

Environmental Consultant Patrick Nye, noted that “raw materials that represent the most weight and greatest transportation cost, such as brick, cement, steel, glass, wood, and sheetrock" are often overlooked when accounting for sustainability. (1)

Jennie Morton, of, wrote that "The LEED standard defines regional materials as “building materials or products that have been extracted, harvested, or recovered, as well as manufactured, within 500 miles of the project site for a minimum of 10% or 20%, based on cost, of the total materials value.” (1)


Investing in a local raw materials home supports global sustainability.

Reduced costs of extraction, transportation, and manufacturing

ultimately reduce your carbon footprint.


Localism Lightened the Footprint of Elegant Organic Home

From inception, local materials were included from the ground up. Setting that tone resulted in less temptations to “give in” to less sustainable products. Over 80% of the raw materials were regional, under 250 miles.

Incredible research influenced design. The brain labor invested in this home is enormous! Smart it's inherent materials, not artificial home technologies, to mitigate, as afterthought.

The Perks of Local Provenance

The stress relief that comes from fewer choices is one perk of sustainability standards. Too many choices inflate costs. Our choices were simple, and our conscience, lighter.

Premium prices can pair with local materials. But, with elegant traditional finishes, there is less need for decorative bells and whistles that add up in conventional builds. Old-world natural beauty requires less cosmetics.

Local materials are designed to weather the climate in which they reside, more appropriately. Imported materials don't always have the composition to survive in alternate climates.

Environmental Effects of Elegant Organic Home

Aside from it's standard energy efficient appliances, this home contains organic materials including insulation and structure. Finishes in the home are animal and human safe.

The majority of raw materials and products travelled less than 250 miles. This exceeds the LEEDS maximum requirement by another 60%. There was a huge reduction in the packaging wastes produced by this home build compared to conventional builds.

Water Conserving Xeriscape

The Okanagan valley does not have the climate for sustainable lawns. This home is xeriscaped with drought-tolerant species that need minimal (to no) watering.

Community Karma

The builder milled or salvaged most of the wood with the help of a local ranching/milling family. A regional lumber mill was used for framing materials.

We reclaimed organic strawbales that had been specifically baled by a local farmer, when another strawbale's funding fell through. This build supported family businesses or local workers, in an economic downturn when most builders were out of work.


Here's Your Check List for Identifying a Sustainable Home (5)

  1. Energy efficient materials, products, appliances

  2. Products in recyclable packaging

  3. Materials with little/no packaging

  4. Organic products & materials

  5. Ethically produced or grown materials

  6. Materials that haven't travelled long distances

  7. Locally made products

  8. Fair trade products including Community/ Social Capital

  9. Products not tested on animals

  10. Water conserving and efficient


"Elegant Organic Home is a Smart Home

by inherent design.

Elegant Organic Home embodies

a fresh perspective with old-world common sense. "


© Låna Brown 2017


(2-7) Includes the following surveys: Our Common Future, 1987; Neilsen Global Online Environment and Sustainability Survey, 2011; Greendex Consumer Choice and the Environment – A Worldwide Tracking Survey, 2012, from National Geographic and Globescan (2)

Sustainability is about how products fit into a consumer's culture, lifestyle and social consciousness. Global public opinion surveys now reflect the relationship between personal values and buying behaviours, particularly in regions where choice is an everyday privilege.

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