The Cape Cod cottage is a style of house that originated in New England in the 17th century. It is traditionally characterized as a low, broad frame building, generally a story and a half high with a steep, perfectly pitched roof with styling on the ends, a large central chimney and very little ornamentation. It saw revival in the twentieth century in places where one had to build a simple home. It was perfect because it had a nostalgic style the paired well with limited space.
EnviroCitizen.org has discovered that Cape Cod houses can be sustainable as well because they are small. They use wood and other materials which can be reused or bought from sustainable sources. Another great feature about Cape Cod houses is that they use skylights and windows to light up a home during the day, reducing energy consumption.
Daylighting is a form of passive solar technology and is a very green practice that works well with this style of home. This is a technique that doesn’t require any photovoltaic systems or fancy equipment, just positioning and planning your home so sunlight is used efficiently. This allows for optimal solar use and less energy use. Look out for taller buildings and trees that will inhibit sunlight from reaching the building. Southern facing windows is best for passive heating, with east and west exposure being the most difficult to deal with. Creative building design to takes advantage of what exposure there is, no matter what the orientation of the home is going to be.
The use of wood is one of the defining architectural features of a Cape Cod cottage. You can use wood from another project to cut back on waste. If reusing wood isn’t an option for you, try sustainable woods. Whether you need a finished wood product, a few small pieces of lumber for a simple project or timbers for the construction of an entire home, sustainable wood is always a safe choice. Look for products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), an organization that has developed sustainable standards for forest management and operates programs that verify adherence to them. You can also try for products made with reclaimed or "rediscovered" wood. This is wood that has been used before, so no trees are cut.
Cape Cod homes are becoming popular for a reason. They are functional homes that only use what space is needed. Perhaps the biggest perk EnviroCitizen.org discovered is that they can be designed to be very green. You can create your own plan at freegreen.com or you can contact a green designer to make a sustainable Cape Cod home that is as unique as its occupant.