Monday, January 5, 2009

Define your Shade - Introduction

For those that followed my blog in the “early days”, my articles were split between this blog and my former employer. Following my departure, the original articles were removed and along with it, my first blog about what green is and what it means to builders and homebuyers alike. Given my last article and several conversations of late, I am revisiting the topic here, only in more depth and in greater detail.

For purposes of this forum, my commentary will focus on defining and explaining green for the home industry, applicable to both existing and new construction.

When discussing this topic with consumers, the definitions are varied. Some say it is merely energy efficiency. Others think of high tech energy systems with plants on the roof and waterless toilets. A rare few think the whole thing is a hoax to charge more, which is rather ludicrous given the current market and the state of the economy. At the end of the day, it still begs the question: What is green building?

Green building can be many of the things mentioned above. Green building is the process of building homes that have less overall impact on the environment than existing homes. This is accomplished not only by the end product, but through the construction process as well. While each program varies and attains the status of green through different methods, most green programs include the following components:

  1. Energy Efficiency - Design elements and equipment that utilize less energy and require less electricity then typical homes on the market.
  2. Water Efficiency – Faucets and fixtures that utilize less water to accomplish the same task as traditional fixtures.
  3. Indoor Air Quality – Building homes that breath as designed and reduce the amount of dust, contaminates and chemicals in the air, thus improving the overall health of its occupants.
  4. Site Layout – Placing the home on the site/lot in such a way as to reduce cooling loads and the environmental impact of the structure.
  5. Resource Efficiency – Employing construction methods that reduce waste and utilizing better construction materials efficiently in the home.

Over the next few weeks, I will discuss each of the above sections, providing examples of methods, materials and best practices to accomplishes some of the requirements for each. Much of what I will share is derived from the NAHB Green Building Standard, as released in February of 2008.

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