Windows on the East, West, and South side of your home receive direct sunlight throughout the day and can cause your home to gain unwanted heat. During the colder winter, some of this heat might be welcome, but you definitely want to keep it out during the hot summer. Overhangs and awnings are green building solutions that achieve this result. They can be incorporated into new home design and additions to existing homes. Not only do these overhangs add functionality, but they also add interest and depth to the façade of your home. They can even create shaded outdoor areas like porches that you can enjoy. At Stearns, we believe in a home’s connection to its surrounding environment—so then, in what way can nature help to reduce heat gain and the energy bills that come with it? Shade trees can prevent unwanted heat from entering your home (and of course they also provide a lovely place to sit or play under with your family). Plant deciduous trees on the South side of your home, so that during the winter when the trees lose their leaves you’ll have some warm summer sun for your spaces. By planting evergreen trees and other greenery along the West and East sides of your home, you can ensure that those areas are shaded all year long. Trees can be trimmed up so you don’t lose the views out of your windows, while still enjoying their shade. Try to select trees that are native to the Brazos area so they are accustomed to the climate. Trees do take time to grow – but consider it a long term investment for the efficiency and beautification of your home!