The materials we use to build our homes have a significant impact on the environment. Why? Because that window you love represents embodied energy―the resources it takes to make, transport, and assemble it. Heating or cooling the space around the window requires still more energy.
Fortunately, it's possible to choose materials and home designs that consume less energy and have a limited impact on the environment. You can opt for plans that use renewable products (bamboo flooring, for example), "right-size" the square footage to avoid wasted space, employ vernacular styles developed in response to local conditions, conserve water, recycle, and more. All it takes is planning.
One day, homes may be both zero-carbon and zero-energy. Though that goal remains a dream, environmentalists believe it's possible.