What constitutes Green?
Green = Sustainable
Sustainable building, specifically sustainable home building has become a very popular buzz phase recently. What does it mean to be Green?
A green home uses less energy, water and natural resources; creates less waste; and is healthier for the people living inside.
Building a green home, or a sustainable home means building your home with the goal of creating a better environment, both inside the home and on the planet. Designing the home to use as little energy as possible while providing all the conveniences you have come to expect in your home. Using the minimum amount of water to meet your needs. Building with durability in mind reduces waste during construction and throughout the life of the home. Creating a plan to manage your property, through rain water control, native drought resistant plants and a well thought out site plan. Using recycled material in the construction of the home minimizes energy used in manufacturing and reduces the amount of material that goes into landfills every year. The indoor environment in a home is often the most overlooked aspect in home building. Everyone is looking for rich finishes and great trim. Building green means using material inside the home that creates a healthy indoor environment, with minimum volatile organic compounds and formaldehyde.
There are plenty of home builders offering Energy Star Rates homes. That's a great start. Energy Star homes use an average of 15% less energy than a typical home built to the current code standards. That means that if your typical monthly electric bill is $100, in an Energy Star home it would be only $85 a month. That is certainly building with sustainability in mind, saving energy and money.
What if, for the same price as other builders you could build your home and cut your energy bill in half? Use half the energy and save money too. That's really building with sustainability in mind. That's what Green Building is all about.
How do you know it's Green? There is plenty of Greenwashing going on in the market place right now. With the cost of a barrel of oil over $100 today, everyone is trying to play the "Green" game. So how can you tell which home today are Green and which are pretending to be Green? For most people it's not an easy question to answer. In our opinion the solution comes from two somewhat unlikely places, the Federal Government and a not-for-profit group, specifically the Environmental Protection Agency through the Energy Star Program and the United States Green Building Council through it's LEED for Homes Program. The most significant trait these two programs share that set them apart from other Green Building Programs and most other advertising is that they require a separate third party to with no other interest in the home except for rating its sustainability, to verify that the home was built according to the industries best building practice. All the other program out there are self policing programs that provide recommendation or suggestions. There is no telling whether those recommendations were followed. For this reason Sustainable Designs uses these two programs to determine best practice and requires third party verification of compliance with those practices.
Why don't all builders follow these industry best practices and use third party verification? The answer is, some do. All builders looking for certification under the Energy Star Program must use a certified Energy Star Rater to perform third party verification. This third party verification is limited to the scope of the Energy Star Program which is only focused on energy usage. The basic Energy Star Program most builders use doesn't address sustainability, only energy usage.
LinksUnited States Green Building Council - LEED Rating System
Energy Star - A great source for efficient new homesForestry Stewardship Council - Independent Lumber Certifier
Eco-Infill - Our sister company in Denver, Colorado