They can easily work hand in hand. Solar power, water catchment, and other externalities of the building process can be built into any home, healthy or not. The more challenging one involves the building envelope. Conventional systems for making a home energy efficient, inherently wrap the house so tightly that if water ever does get inside it has nowhere to go to escape. Experts I’ve spoken to say water leakage is inevitable in every house. Water trapped inside a house is a recipe for mold, mycotoxins, and a cascade of health problems. So, the desire for more energy efficient houses that started after the oil crises of the 1970’s is what led us to start wrapping our homes in plastic, and sealing them up tight, which made sense at the time, but is a dangerous road to travel, especially when you get a leak somewhere down the line.
It’s not hard to build a breathable building envelope that is extraordinarily energy efficient. Our model home has 10” thick walls with so much thermal mass that the R-value is 38. R-value is a measurement of the energy efficiency. An R-value of 38 is extremely high, and will make for some rock-bottom heating and cooling bills year-round.