Buying Green – What does it really mean?

The EPA describes green building as the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient. In 2018, approximately 40% of the single-family home market will have some sort of green focus. While green-certified homes sell for more than comparable homes that are not green-certified, lenders and appraisers sometimes don’t recognize the full value of a green home. If you are considering buying one of these ecologically friendly dwellings, read on to learn more about the “whys” and “whats” of going green.

The first thing many people think of regarding green homes is energy efficiency. Green homes are more cost effective because they are set up to use less energy and water. This reduced consumption not only saves water and electricity but also money.

Another reason people are interested in green homes is for the matter of personal health. There is reduced exposure to mold and mildew for healthier, cleaner indoor air and green building utilizes nontoxic building materials to further combat indoor air pollution. For example, paints have, historically, contained volatile organic compounds, VOCs, which emit a gas that can linger for weeks. Zero VOC paint is now available not only for builders, but for use by the general public as well.

Many people build or buy green because they want to contribute to the greater good by conserving natural resources and reducing their own impact on the environment. They have a goal of using less water and other natural resources and look to use locally sourced and renewable materials or repurposed materials. Green building also reduces its impact on the environment because less waste is created because of the use of recycled materials. It also recycles building waste whenever possible to reduce the enormous amount of waste generated during the building process.

While there are some things, like insulation, that you have to take someone’s word on, there are “green things” to look for when touring a prospective home.

Energy Star appliances and low-flow water fixtures such as faucets, toilets, and showerheads

A rainwater recapture system or solar panels.

Products and materials that have long-term durability that can be as simple as LED bulbs or as sophisticated as carpet with recycled content or a renewable wood source such as bamboo.

The orientation of the home – does it make the best use of the land it sits on in regards to sun and wind exposure? Passive solar design will utilize east/west or north/south orientation as well as purposefully placed living areas, garage, etc. to either avoid or capture direct sunlight, depending on the area’s climate. Placement of windows should take advantage of natural ventilation by taking into account the direction of prevailing winds for cross ventilation.

Landscaping that includes plants and trees native to the region, shade trees, or drought tolerant grass and plants.

An HVAC zoning system to heat and cool specific areas as they are being used instead of pushing air out to the entire house.

An overhang of 3 feet or more to keep the sun from shining directly onto the windows.

A tankless water heater that only uses energy to heat the water needed at that time.

A programmable thermostat to regulate the house temperature while you are home and while you are away.

Double or triple paned windows.

Consider the size of the homes you are looking at – will you utilize all of the space or leave rooms unused?

Ask if the homes have any certifications:

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

The U.S. Green Building Council says the following: LEED is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Available for virtually all building, community and home project types, LEED provides a framework to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement.

Model Green Home Building Guidelines

The National Association of Home Builders offers professional designations and certifications for developers, managers, and others in the building industry.

Energy Star

As indicated on their website: ENERGY STAR® is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency, providing simple, credible, and unbiased information that consumers and businesses rely on to make well-informed decisions.

It is becoming easier to find homes that are at least partially green or have green aspects and minimal negative impact on the environment. I am excited to assist you when you are ready to begin the search for your next home. Contact me!