Home Green Home: The Benefits of Sustainable Living

Alaska Airlines magazine cover

Coates coined the term “responsible architecture,” referring to both an approach and a goal.

Sustainable homes incorporate a range of systems, tactics and practices.  They can use reclaimed building materials, water-conserving measures and multizone geothermal HVAC (heating, ventilating and air-conditioning) systems, for instance, to lessen the environmental impact.  But sustainability goes beyond ecology; it’s about the social, cultural and economic impact, as well, says Matthew Coates, president of Coates Design Architects in Seattle.

To be truly sustainable, we must have a triple bottom line mentality… We must think about how our decision to build or renovate impacts the environment, our neighbors and our communities, and also the local economy. —Matthew Coates

Coates coined the term “responsible architecture,” referring to both an approach and a goal.  “The days of looking at buildings as machines for consumption are gone-instead, we need to eliminate the concept of waste and see every single piece of what we’re doing as a resource,” he says. “We need to get away from the idea of being wasteful and ensure that all materials are repurposed, salvaged or reused-and that all materials are recyclable, and at the end of their life span can be taken apart and turned into new building components,” diverting these material from landfills.

For sustainability to gain critical mass, those on the front lines say, certain misconceptions require undoing and certain answers need clarification, such as: Does it come at a price?

It depends on how you do the math, says Coates.  Some practices are free, such as orienting a new home on the parcel in a way to take advantage of breezes for natural ventilation, or shaving some square footage from the floor plan of a new house.  Building a home no bigger than what you need is the single most sustainable choice you can make, he says; smaller homes demand fewer resources both to build and to operate.

Full article found at:

[2013, July] Home Green Home: The Benefits of Sustainable Living. Alaska Airlines. (View PDF version)
Alaska Airlines, July 2013