Building Green Homes

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What is a Green Home

  • Green homes are the way of the future. With everyone worried about putting the environment in danger, the National Association of Home Builders and the International Code Council has developed the National Green Building Standards, which take into consideration the environmental issues and resource efficiency of each individual part of the building process. All facets of the construction, including the design, materials and operation of the home, focus on energy and water efficiency.

Components of a Green Home

  • Some of the energy-efficient features of a green home are appliances, windows and heating systems with Energy Star ratings. To consume less energy, photovoltaic electricity and water heating systems are installed. To conserve water, the green home uses low-flow showerhead, faucets and toilets. If sprinkler systems are needed, the programmable low-volume systems are the best option. Other features may include rainwater collection and hot water recirculation systems. Even the placement of the house on the lot is taken into consideration. The placement and design should use the natural daylight to reduce the needs of electric lighting. Materials should be renewable resources such as bamboo, as well as carpet and tile that use recycled contents.

    An important feature is the heat and air conditioning system. It should be carefully designed to properly ventilate the home. Fans should bring fresh air in and take the stale air out.

    Paint and wallpaper used throughout the house should be low VOC. Even the landscaping is important to a green home. While building, special care should be taken to preserve as many of the surrounding trees and plants as possible. The planted landscaping should be arranged so that plants requiring significant water are in the same area. Driveways and walkways should be used as sparingly as possible. When needed, they should be made of gravel and permeable materials.

How to Identify a Green Home

  • There are different levels of certification for green homes. The NAHB Research Center Certified certificate ensures that the home was built according to one of the levels set down for green building. A point system is used for each category of the construction, and the total points make up for the level of certification. Currently, there is a Bronze, Silver, Gold and Emerald level, with the Emerald level being the best. Stars are awarded for Site Design and Development ranging from 1 to 4 stars. The Energy Star rating on appliances and windows is also important. You can see the requirements for each level of certifications by going to NAHB website and clicking on the NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines. There is also a Green Scoring tool to help you see how your house measures up.

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  • Photo Credit Seth Taylor
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