When it comes to home construction, there are other professionals besides architects and homebuilders: real estate agents, mortgage brokers, interior designers, landscape architects, green building consultants... They too can be important in your home project, though many of the functions of these specialists are also performed by architects and designers focused on residential projects.
You should try hard to find a good homebuilder. That's your money and your project that are at stake. Even if you are well informed, and you have hired a green architect with a good knowledge of the intricacies of energy-efficiency construction, you still need a builder experienced in energy-efficient homes.
Construction details are critical, and the risks enormous. Even if the contractor is licensed, hardworking, financially responsible, its experience of energy efficient practices is also critical.
Obviously, you should also consider other factors. Look for referrals and recommendations, and pay attention to warning signs: if he doesn't return your phone call after a second attempt, if his job site is disorganized, if he shows up late to the meetings, if he tries to talk you out of the things you really want... it may be wise to find another contractor.
To find home builders consider national association of builders (the NAHB and the NARI in the US) and online green directories (the GreenHomeGuide is a good US directory that includes reviews by past clients).
Many interior designers undervalue energy efficiency in favour of style, large glazing surfaces and decoration effects.
Look for designers able to provide you valuable insights on green finishes, sustainable furnishings and fabrics and other low-energy and green issues.
Just make sure that your own tastes (or the ideas of the architect) aren't biased by the "fashion-celebrity style".
Real estate agents
Good real estate agents are able to provide valuable information on the local codes and zoning permits, or on what is possible or not, or valuable information about the neighborhood you are considering.
In North America, certified Ecobroker agents can also offer you helpful insights into choosing low-energy homes and information on financial incentives and mortgages. .
Green building consultants
There is a growing number of green and energy-efficient consultants. They can provide advice on a wide range of issues, including design, siting and energy analysis.
Landscape architects can be seen as "architects for the outside", but they do a lot more than just selecting the plants, designing plant beds, or decks, trellis and pergolas for shade. They can be especially helpful in strategies involving natural cooling (through shade and breezes) in hot climates, or in strategies involving the protection of the house from the element (snow and strong winds, in cold climates).
Landscaping is critical for energy savings. Trees alone can reduce summer temperatures around a house by several degrees. Shading devices and shrubs are critical, as are devices and topology elements, and windbreaks. .