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Sustainability is more than just a trend in home design—it’s the future. That’s why so many luxury homeowners are demonstrating a willingness to invest in high-end features that make their living space more eco-friendly. Of course, learning the basics of sustainable design can be like learning a new language. To help get you started, here are a few terms that everyone interested in reducing their home’s impact on the environment should know.

Net-Zero Energy
Net-zero energy means that a building produces enough energy through renewable sources, such as wind or solar, to meet its annual energy consumption requirements. This is a common goal for truly green buildings, as it means that a home is no longer reliant on nonrenewable energy sources, like fossil fuels. Taking this concept a step further, net-positive buildings are so efficient that they actually produce even more energy than is needed to power your home.

Because sustainability has become such an important issue, the unfortunate reality is that many companies take advantage of it simply for marketing purposes without actually fulfilling their commitment to the environment. When looking for sustainable materials to use throughout your home, keep an eye out for reputable certifications that confirm they were sourced responsibly, like the Forest Stewardship Council or the Rainforest Alliance.

An easy way to lower your water consumption is to use what’s known as “greywater” to irrigate your property. This concept refers to water that’s used for things like bathing, laundry and doing dishes, and then recycled to irrigate your lawn and garden after it’s run through a filter. 

Life-Cycle Assessment 
The fact of the matter is that it’s difficult to truly quantify a material’s impact on the environment. How it was grown or extracted from the earth, the distance it was transported to arrive at your home and how long it lasts before needing to be replaced, are just a few of the factors that need to be considered, which is what the term life-cycle assessment refers to. Essentially, this is a way of measuring the total environmental impact of a product throughout the course of its life.