Many today would consider the idea of Green or Sustainable Design to be relatively new concepts. This is not actually the case though. much of the "recent" movement towards these ideals is really a re-birth of sorts. Historically, architectural elements such as deep overhangs and porches and the location of chimneys had everything to do with the region where the house was built. Today we call this site-centric design or simply designing to suite the site. A central fireplace and chimney heat a house more efficiently in colder climates while the masonry mass of the chimney on the outside wall helps to dissipate the heat to the outdoors where heat in warmer climates is a consideration. Deep porches and overhangs provide shade and cooler ventilation for sunny areas in the South.
Consider the catch phrases "reduce, re-use and recycle" and "regionalism." In the days of our forefathers, before building materials became the commodities that they are, the 'R' words were a way of life. Everything from siding to floor boards was re-used whenever possible. Building materials were local products. Stone for foundations was quarried on site or near by, bricks for wall construction were made locally, timber for building lumber was harvested locally and homes were built by local craftsmen who had intimate knowledge of these local materials.
The next time that you wonder why we don't do more to sustain our planet, contemplate the fact that until relatively recently, regionalism, reduce re-use and recycle and sustainability were ways of life rather than catch phrases. Work with a professional that can design to fit your site and help you select materials that are made from recycled products, are harvested from sustainable forests or are produced locally.
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