Although certifications are necessary to officially designate a home “green,” anyone can make their home and their lives greener. A home’s individual green features are what make it environmentally friendly or “greener.” An environmentally friendly home is a home that—compared with a standard home—uses less energy, water, and natural resources; creates less waste; and is healthier for its inhabitants. Homes can be built green-conscious, or they can undergo green enhancements (eco-conscious alterations or remodels) after they are created.

A home that is eco-friendly should encompass one or all of the five key green principles outlined below and should:

*  Conserve natural resources
*  Use energy efficiently
*  Have improved indoor air quality relative to normal building standards
*  Create less waste to build and live relative to normal building standards
*  Be part of a livable community

The home pictured above,  LEED®-(Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified home, includes features that will result in a 75 percent water savings and a 30 percent savings on a typical electric or gas bill. Additional features: ENERGY STAR appliances; efficient glass; extra insulation; paperless drywall; solar electricity; special high-efficiency HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning); a “fresh-air exchange” system that prevents stale air from being kept inside the house; drought-friendly landscaping and regionally native plants; tank-less water heaters in the house and casita; and water-saving faucets and toilets.