The green building pyramid
It is very easy to assume that the big impact items such as PV solar power should be a priority. However, where you start and what items are a priority is part of a multi step process of assessment that should help you build more sustainably in a managed and informed manner.
The truth is that it is a big order to get to claim to be sustainable. All projects really are shades of green based on budgets and priorities.
It is important to have an awareness of where to start, and to be clear what your priorities are. Part of this is being educated on the relative costs and return on investment of different aspects of green building. With this knowledge you can measure the success of the initiatives you embark upon. If simple intitiatives are successful and have a measurable positive result, then you will encouraged to move on to larger initiatives enthusiastically.
This is why we like the green building pyramid so much. Think of it in the terms of the food pyramid. At the bottom of the food pyramid are vegetables, legumes, rice etc of which you should eat the most and which have a significant impact on making you healthier. At the top are fats, oils and sweet things which should be eaten sparingly.
The green building pyramid is a hierarchy of goals for greener construction. At the bottom are the simplest, most cost-effective and big impact items such as building small and achieving ideal sitting and orientation. At the top up is the ideal, H2O & Carbon neutral. This is where PV solar power and water recycling come into it.
Look to these big ticket items being last on your list after you have been through the other 6 levels of the pyramid.