Designing and developing a green home can seem like a daunting project, but creating a living space that’s easy on the environment is simpler than you might think. There are several easy adjustments that you can make in your building and design project that will have a significant impact on how green your final house is. Pursuing a green home offers a wealth of benefits for your family as well as the planet.
What Is a Green Home?
A green home is a dwelling that’s designed in an environmentally friendly and energy-efficient manner. Green homes produce less waste, use fewer resources, and are easier on the earth. You can construct a green building from the ground up, or you can upgrade an existing structure with fixtures and features that make it greener at a later date.
What Is the National Green Building Standard?
The American National Standards Institute has approved the National Green Building Standard as an efficiency rating system for single-family homes and multifamily apartment buildings. To achieve an NGBS rating, a home must maintain high-efficiency standards in six key areas:
- Energy Efficiency: Energy-efficient lighting, appliances, and HVAC systems.
- Water Efficiency: Low-flow plumbing fixtures and water-conserving appliances.
- Resource Efficiency: Ice barriers, advanced framing techniques, and roof overhangs with drip edges.
- Lot Development: Tree preservation, on-site stormwater management, low-maintenance landscaping, and walkable communities.
- Operation and Maintenance: Inclusion of an owner’s manual to educate homeowners on energy efficiency.
- Indoor Environmental Quality: Low-VOC building materials and proper ventilation to minimize pollutants.
The NGBS has four certification levels, so builders can customize their projects to meet the budgets and needs of different customers. Homes are rated Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Emerald. To move up to a new certification level, the home must meet higher standards across all six categories.
What Organizations Rate Green Home Development?
In addition to the NGBS, there are several other organizations that rate green home development. You may seek certification from or compliance with the standards set forth by one of these institutes as a measure of your successful green home development. Our consultants can help you understand key standards for environmentally friendly homes and inspect your property to determine how you stand. Our staff members are certified by all of the following.
- Home Energy Rating System: An index of measurement for a home’s energy efficiency features.
- International Code Council: A nonprofit organization providing evaluation, accreditation, and certification for building safety.
- Building Performance Institute: A nonprofit organization that provides technical standards and professional certifications for energy efficiency, health, and safety.
- Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design: A green building rating system that offers a framework for efficiency, health, and cost-savings.
We have inspected and rated more than 60,000 homes over our lifespan, so we bring extensive knowledge and experience to the table when it comes to green home development. We know exactly what to look for to build an eco-friendly dwelling.
How Can I Design a Green Home?
If you’re interested in designing a green home, there are several factors that you need to take into consideration. Your commitment to environmentally friendly practices can begin in the very earliest stages of the design process, from selecting a location that’s conducive to green living to selecting finishing touches, like light and plumbing fixtures.
Some key things that you should incorporate into your green home design include:
- Sustainable building materials: Choose materials that are recycled, reused, or renewable. If you’re using new building materials, make sure that they’re sustainably harvested and have few or no volatile organic compounds.
- Energy-efficient features: You can increase your home’s energy efficiency with Energy Star rated appliances and smart light fixtures that use less electricity. Ample insulation and well-placed windows and skylights can help you heat and cool your home more efficiently.
- Water-efficient elements: A home can use less water by featuring drought-resistant plants in the landscape, collecting rainwater for non-potable uses, incorporating low-flow faucets and showerheads, and using an efficient dishwasher and washing machine.
Consult with your contractor, builder, or other industry professionals for custom recommendations on how to construct a green home for your family. Our consultants consider a wide range of factors when assessing a home. We look at the insulation, air leakage, HERS score, and more. As a third-party contractor, we can provide an unbiased opinion on your home’s development as well as knowledgeable recommendations that meet your needs for efficiency and affordability.
What Are the Benefits of Green Home Development?
There are many compelling reasons to consider going green with your home development. The most obvious is your impact on the environment. When you choose to pursue eco-friendly building materials and strategies, you create a home that has less impact on the environment. You will use fewer precious resources and enjoy a smaller carbon footprint.
A green home can also pay you back for your investment in several ways:
- Longer-lasting materials: Durable eco-friendly building materials have longer lifespans. This means less maintenance and fewer replacements.
- Lower water and power bills: High-efficiency appliances and a well-insulated home use less electricity and water. This translates to long-term savings on your utility bills.
- Better health: VOCs and indoor air pollution can lead to headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, asthma and allergy flare-ups, and more. Those who spend a lot of time exposed to indoor air pollution may even have more sick days from work and lower productivity levels. Cleaner air means better health, which in turn may increase your earning potential and lower your health care costs.
- Greater home value: A green home instantly has more value on the market. If you choose to sell your home in the future, you’ll find that its eco-friendly features make it more appealing to buyers and help it stand out from the competition.
If you’re interested in designing and constructing a green home, our consultants can help. We can assist with REScheck reports, blower and duct testing, Manual J, D, and S inspections, and energy-efficient home tax credits. Contact us now to learn more.