Modular homes: The latest affordable housing trend sweeping the US

Combining ADUs with Green Building Techniques

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) are becoming popular and more common in many communities across the world. They provide additional living space, increasing the number of homes in the area without the need for new land development. While ADUs have significant benefits for homeowners, they also come with a responsibility to protect the environment. This article will explore the use of green building techniques in ADUs as a way of enhancing sustainability while improving the quality of life for homeowners.

What are ADUs?

ADUs are small, self-contained residential units that are built on a property that already has a single family home. They are usually built on the same lot as the primary residence and are a detached or attached living unit. ADUs can serve a variety of purposes such as guest houses, home offices, or rental units. They are also known as granny flats, mother-in-law suites, or backyard cottages.

What are Green Building Techniques?

Green building techniques are those that use environmentally friendly building materials and practices that aim to reduce energy consumption, conserve resources, and limit the carbon footprint of a building. These techniques incorporate design and construction practices that prioritize human health and reduce the negative impact of buildings on the environment.

Why Combine Green Building Techniques with ADUs?

Integrating green building techniques with ADUs can lead to lasting benefits, including:
  • Reduced carbon footprint: green building techniques reduce the amount of energy used to heat and cool the building. This energy efficiency translates to fewer carbon emissions and a smaller ecological footprint.
  • Lower utility costs: the reduction in energy used to heat and cool the building can lead to significant cost savings on monthly utility bills for homeowners.
  • Improved health: green materials and building techniques improve indoor air quality while reducing exposure to harmful chemicals and allergens.
  • Increased property value: a well-planned and constructed ADU with green building techniques can increase the resale value of a property.
  • Sustainability: green building techniques promote long-term sustainability by conserving resources and minimizing waste.

Types of Green Building Techniques that can be Used in ADUs

Below are some of the green building techniques that can be used in ADUs:

Passive Solar Design

Passive solar design is an affordable and practical way of incorporating renewable energy into a building's design. Passive design features, such as strategically placed windows and insulation, allow for maximum sunlight exposure, reducing the need for artificial lighting and heating. Passive design also relies on natural ventilation, whereby doors and windows are placed to maximize airflow and reduce the need for air conditioning.

Green Roofing

Green roofing involves growing vegetation on the roof to reduce energy consumption, improve indoor air quality, and promote a healthier living environment. By shading the roof from the sun, green roofing can decrease the amount of energy required to cool the building during hot months.

Energy Efficient Lighting

One of the easiest ways to reduce energy use in ADUs is by replacing bulbs with more energy-efficient options such as LED bulbs. LED bulbs consume less energy to produce the same amount of light as traditional incandescent bulbs. By changing light bulbs, homeowners can significantly reduce energy consumption and monthly bills.

Sustainable Building Materials

Sustainable building materials such as recycled steel, bamboo, and reclaimed wood can lower the environmental impact of construction. These materials are eco-friendly, renewable, and can be repurposed or recycled once they reach the end of their life.


Green building techniques can be incorporated into different types of residential buildings, including ADUs. Integrating these practices helps to reduce the ecological footprint of buildings and promotes long-term sustainability. By constructing an ADU with green building techniques, homeowners benefit from reduced utility bills, improved indoor air quality, increased property value, and a healthier living environment for them and their families.