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Sustainable Homes Raising the Bar

renderings courtesy of A FINER TOUCH CONSTRUCTION

A Finer Touch Construction build with sustainable design
A Finer Touch Construction, Founder of Construction Instruction Mark LaLiberte, Professional Builder magazine and ICONIC LIFE are on it! Follow our sustainability journey.

Living a beautiful life, means cherishing the planet and our environment every step of the way. ICONIC LIFE is passionate about sustainability and the importance of shaping design efforts in ways that respect the environment. That’s why when we learned of the Desert Comfort home, we were all in!

sustainable home building design in Arizona

Sustainable design is more important than ever. It’s essential to adopt a multi-phase philosophy with processes that reduce negative impacts on the environment and health of the occupants, without compromising the bottom line.

In the United States alone, buildings account for 39 percent of total energy use, 68 percent of total electricity consumption, 30 percent of landfill waste, 38 percent of carbon dioxide emissions and 12 percent of total water consumption. Now, do we have your attention?

The good news is that sustainable design and sustainable homes are a conversation that’s gaining steam and entering the mainstream, as seen with ENERGY STAR certified appliances, recycled materials, water-conserving plumbing fixtures, solar panels and many other environmentally conscious tactics.

Following in the footsteps of Frank Lloyd Wright, the father of sustainable architecture, interior designers, home builders and architects alike are utilizing their “green” thumbs

Peterssen Keller Architecture design sustainable homes

Following in the footsteps of Frank Lloyd Wright, the father of sustainable architecture, interior designers, home builders and architects alike are utilizing their “green” thumbs. Sustainable design is here, and it’s here to stay.

As a sponsor of a new, incredible environmentally responsible project, we’re taking you on a month-by-month journey, guiding you through the construction, sustainable strategies and new design trends that will go into building a net zero home.


Arizona sustainable home building design

Coming early 2022, the Net Zero ICONIC Home will be a sustainable, net-zero energy building design that produces at least as much renewable energy as it consumes on an annual basis. In other words, it must produce one unit of energy for each unit of energy it consumes over the course of a year. It is a building that is designed to reduce the required energy with the balance of the energy needs supplied by on-site renewable energy technologies.

We’re working alongside Mark LaLiberte, co-founder and president of Construction Instruction, who has dedicated more than 30 years to building and providing builders, architects and manufacturers with an in-depth look at the current and future state of housing. His work has earned him a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Energy and Environmental Building Alliance (EEBA), where he developed the highly acclaimed “Houses that Work” lecture series.

sustainable home design by A Finer Touch Construction

With time, he realized that there’s a lot of planning and work that goes into creating a sustainable and high-performance home design. When you find a home that is volatile, energy efficient and durable, you’ve met your perfect match. LaLiberte believes that a high-performance home is one with great indoor air quality, remarkable energy performance, beautiful aesthetics and no durability issues.

“It’s like thinking about cars. If I tell you to picture a high-performance car, your mind immediately goes to something faster, quicker, all of those great things that make it sleek,” he said.

He was very selective about the builder he chose, and he named AFT Construction and its leader Brad Leavitt to build this most-important home.

“We were honored to be selected to build the home since our company is moving towards more sustainable building, and we want to create leadership in that area,” said Leavitt. “They wanted someone who had the marketing muscle to really get this message out and promote building science and construction instruction as leaders in sustainable practices.”

sustainable home design by Peterssen Keller Architecture

The technologies used for energy production will most likely be solar panels and wind turbines, and more specific applications such as solar water heating will be incorporated. However, energy production is only part of the equation of achieving net zero status, as it starts early in the planning and design stages with an understanding that making sustainable design decisions will further achieve the eco-friendly goals.

“We’re trying to use local and national resources to stay with our umbrella of companies and really support the local economy. That’s one of the sustainability issues. Does it have to come from somewhere else? And we’re also trying to look at the carbon impacts, right?” LaLiberte said. “Energy is a huge carbon impact. In my world of sustainability, I want my sustainable building design to make it through its lifespan of more than a hundred years, while, at the same time, minimizing its impact and maintaining the health of the occupants.”


Mark Laliberte designs sustainable homes

Laliberte explained that everyone is concerned with the cost, stating they cannot spend the extra money to save energy, which he feels ignores the underlying solution. “I spend an energy bill every month for SRP and APS. What if I didn’t have one? Would that have a value to it?” He asked. “It’s not about economics and costs—it’s about making choices for the greater good.”

In Arizona specifically, where the temperatures are exceptionally hot, one of the first steps in sustainable building design, or an energy efficient home, is to properly orient the building on the site, maximizing north and south exposure while minimizing east and west exposure. To reduce electrical lighting, the concept of daylighting revolves around the controlled admission of natural light and direct sunlight into the home.

The team is working with K & Q Interiors to create the interiors fitting for an environmentally friendly home like this.

sustainable home building design and architecture

According to LaLiberte, the goal is to let as much natural light in as possible while minimizing the amount of direct sunlight coming into the home, as too much direct sunlight leads to increased cooling costs.

LaLiberte designed the home with Peterssen/Keller, a collaborative studio of exceptional architects and designers founded in 2009 with decades of diverse experience on award-winning residences around the country. Today Scott Carson, founder of Cosan Studio, has joined the team to serve as consulting architect going forward.

The firm believes in being stewards of the home and the land. Using light, space, line and form, they respond to the site to create an environment for living for the next hundred years. From small-scale renovations to luxurious, LEED-certified new homes, they integrate sustainable design practices into every project, finding solutions that merge environmental thinking with exceptional design.

The team is also working with K & Q Interiors to create the interiors fitting for an environmentally friendly home like this, designing sustainable interiors to further reduce any negative impact to the environment, K & Q was selected for ICONIC HAUS, as well.

The good news is that building a net zero energy home is becoming more and more cost effective. It’s important to go into the build with a solid plan from the very beginning, which requires making strategic, conscious decisions that further the sustainable, net zero design goal.

Stay tuned for updates on the construction of this remarkable home. And join the conversation each month as we talk about sustainable design, net-zero construction and environmentally friendly interiors and amenities. Our goal is to spend the next 12 months raising awareness of creating home environments that are good for the environment.


Join us for Net Zero ICONIC Home, a year-long conversation about Living Beautifully and Sustainably in a zero-energy home. We’ve partnered with AFT Construction, Construction Instruction, Cosan Studio, Refined Gardens and K & Q Interiors to take you on a journey of Inspiration, Education and Motivation around sustainable design and living.

We’re giving you a front-row seat each month to see the progress and what it takes to develop a net-zero home. Stay tuned each month for content, social media coverage, videos, podcasts and special events all tied to sustainability as we bring this home to life.

Thank you to our sponsors: Arizona Hardwood, Arizona Fireplaces/Heat&Glo Fireplaces, Avocado Mattress, Circa Lighting, Crestron, Neighbor, Solstice Stone and Sub-Zero/Expressions Home Gallery.

Sustainability Sponsors: Broan-Nutone, Elkay/Southwest Mechanical, Interior Essentials, Pella and Renovation Angel.

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