Did you know that landscaping can be more than something that’s gives your house “curb appeal”, and may save you up to 25% of your home’s annual heating and cooling costs, take down your consumption of water, as well as reduce the storm water runoff?

Design, materials, species selection, and placement of trees and shrubs are the keys to a beautiful, energy-efficient and water-efficient landscaping.  In order to transform your outdoor spaces, these are some ideas:

  • Reducing paved areas and consider using pervious materials or grass-paving systems as an alternative for driveways, alleys and patios in order to avoid the overheating of surfaces, such as roofs and pavements, to temperatures 50–90°F hotter than the air. Having less paved areas permits that, when it rains, more water is absorbed by the ground.
  • Plant evergreen trees to protect your house and outdoor spaces from cold winds in winter, and to provide shading during summertime. They can also cut the winter heating bills up to 30%, and reduce the cooling costs in summer.
  • Plant deciduous trees to beat the heat by shading roofs, walls and windows, cooling your house in the summer and allowing the sun to warm it in the winter.
  • Use native plants and trees, and avoid species that are not suited to the local climate. They require less maintenance, and most importantly, less water—native plants can use as less as one fifth the amount of water than non-local plants.
  • Vegetative roofs can help to absorb rainwater—reducing the storm water run-off, cool the house, and, therefore, cut the cooling costs.

One innovative solution can solve many problems, like in the Sheridan Green House, where the impossibility of having a vegetable garden on the ground level, because of the presence of deer in the area, resulted in allocating it on top of the carport, cooling the space underneath, reducing the amount of rain water that is sent to the sewer system, and having the deer-safe garden the client wanted.

 These are only some of the solutions that can help you improve the performance of your home and your outside spaces, and reduce your utility bills. You will also be helping to preserve the environment for future generations because millions of smaller energy and water saving solutions can have a greater effect than singular larger ones.

Blog entry is a collaboration of Emilio Dominguez for Christopher Jeffrey Architects
Emilio Dominguez was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1979. After graduating from the University of Buenos Aires —School of Architecture, Design & Urbanism— he has been acquiring relevant experience working for the Buenos Aires Urban Planning Department and several architectural firms in Buenos Aires and New York, as well as working as Assistant Professor at the University of Buenos Aires. His practice has been marked by the search of sustainable design solutions, special interest he shares and develops working with Architect Christopher Jeffrey.

Christopher Jeffrey Architects (www.christopherjeffrey.com)