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Three Aspects of Sustainability: Examining SURE HOUSE

Sep 2015

In Three Aspects of Sustainability: Useful Shorthand for Understanding a Complex Idea we defined sustainability as “taking care of human needs today without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same.”

Sustainability is about the resilience of people and the communities in which they reside, and how they are able to respond to changes—whether gradual or sudden and expected or not—and bounce back and adapt when needed.

Sustainability is also about the choices we make within three categories (economic, environmental, and social) and the impact these choices have on our health, safety, and well-being.

SURE HOUSE’s construction choices make the home sustainable.

SURE HOUSE is built with many different materials, including the economically efficient vinyl. Vinyl is derived from two abundant natural resources, chlorine and ethylene, and the vinyl industry is committed to using these natural resources wisely and efficiently while at the same time protecting the health and safety of thousands of workers and the communities in which they live.

Vinyl is durable, and it has the ability to last for many years to many decades. The lifecycle cost of vinyl applications is thus far lower than for materials in competition. The SURE HOUSE’s use of vinyl applications reduces maintenance and replacement costs.

SURE HOUSE’s construction also lends itself to a more environmental friendly home. Energy needs are reduced by 90 percent through a combination of increasing insulation levels, rigorous air sealing of the envelope, the use of high-performance glazing, and energy-efficient heat ventilation, heating, and cooling.

In addition, SURE HOUSE is fully solar powered. Its rooftop array will provide enough power to supply all of the home’s energy needs over the course of a year. The SURE HOUSE also features custom building integrated photovoltaics (PV) on the storm-shutters which are capable of producing up to 70 percent of the home’s hot water, replacing cumbersome and expensive solar-thermal systems with an elegant electrical PV solution.

SURE HOUSE was built with people in mind.

SURE HOUSE was built with society in mind. It is a coastal home, but not one built to FEMA’s coastal construction standards. Because it is not built on stilts, it maintains the neighborhood’s atmosphere.

Because of the materials and technology put into the SURE HOUSE, the chances of the house being destroyed are minimal. Imagine an entire community of houses with similar construction. If that community went through a severe weather event, like Hurricane Sandy, it would not be destroyed.

Sustainability is never about one component. SURE HOUSE brings the economic, environmental, and social components together for the well-being of both people and the community in which they live—both today and into the future.