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  • What Makes a Home Green

    Why Green your home

    Lower monthly bills by saving energy and water, cleaner indoor air, increased durability, greater comfort, better for the environment, community and residents.

    What Makes a Home Green

    Green homes include measures that increase sustainability in six broad categories. Homes that emphasize only one or two categories might be energy efficient, or water efficient, but are not considered “green.” The six categories are:  Location, Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy Efficiency, Materials and Indoor Environmental Quality.

    LOCATION & LINKAGES:

    Location & LinkagesStudies show that a large percentage of the energy a family uses is determined by the location of their home and the transportation energy needed for commuting to and from their home. Green developers and builders construct homes where services already exist.  Check out www.walkscore.com

    SUSTAINABLE SITE:

    siteGreen developers and builders take precautions to minimize the impact of the entire building process on the environment. They do not develop in or near sensitive habitats and they build in ways to minimize pollution from construction activities. Sometimes, they even restore damaged habitat in the process of development!

    WATER EFFICIENCY:

    waterA water-saving home has structures and landscapes designed to safely hold rainwater on the property as long as possible. In general, it also has plants in the landscape which do not require more water than falls on the property (also known as xeriscaping). Inside the home, low-flow fixtures and appliances save even more water. See WaterSense program for more information.  Sometimes, water from an appliance or shower (gray water) may be directed to inedible landscape. See www.oasisdesign.net for more on gray water.

    ENERGY EFFICIENCY:

    energyCompared to an ‘average’ home, efficient homes are designed to use less energy, cost less to operate, and generally have less of an impact on the environment and atmosphere. Builders providing energy-efficient homes have the building structure and mechanics tested by a third party to make sure these systems work correctly (a process called commissioning). Search for  Energy Star for Homes and  Home Energy Saver on the internet for more information.  The ultimate in energy efficiency is a net-zero energy home

    MATERIALS & RESOURCES:

    materialsIn general, a green home will have incorporated environmentally-preferred materials. The materials will be durable and will last over time. Builders following these practices can share their construction waste management plan with you, as well as which environmentally-friendly materials they use. 

    INDOOR ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY:

    indoor air qualityThe goal of increasing indoor environmental quality is to contribute to the comfort and well being of the inhabitants. Builders adhering to advanced levels of indoor environmental quality will be able to describe their strategies such as using less toxic paints and other finishes or using improved air filtering systems. Check out www.greenseal.org and www.hvi.org.

    Certified Homes

    When it comes to choosing “green”, new homes will ideally have received certification  from either a national or regional green building program.  There is a saying, "you get what you inspect, not what you expect".  Certification prevents "Green-washing".  Look for green building programs that are widely supported by diverse groups, including home builders and environmental groups. The programs should include a verifiable independent, third party inspection of the green measures incorporated into the home.  Key items to look for in a certification checklist are:
    • Size: smaller homes are more energy and resource efficient.  Look for credit for a smaller home.
    • Erosion control: manage erosion during construction and after;  also, don’t introduce invasive plants.
    • Water savings of at least 20% better than a code minimum home.
    • Energy savings of at least 15% better than a code minimum home. This means it is an Energy Star home.
    • Reduce and manage waste: how much construction waste was diverted from the landfill.
    • Indoor air quality: good ventilation and exhaust, proper design of the air conditioning, and no path for carbon monoxide to get from the garage into the air handler or home.
    • Operations and maintenance manual: Like a car, a home requires maintenance to keep it running well.  Green homes have new features and new ways to maintain them.  Look for a home owners manual that tells you how to run the efficient AC or passive cooling system, the water harvesting or other green features.
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