Green home building as a concept and a fact is becoming more and more popular. Not because Earth Day
has magically heightened the general publics attention. Sure, its hip to get decked out in hemp clothing and carry canvas shopping bags, but utilizing green construction materials is making more sense.
Adhering to green methods and materials will save a substantial block of cash on energy efficiency and will lower power bills in the long run, though the price is initially higher.
Understanding the Impact Buildings Have on the Natural Environment
People tend to think of car exhaust pipes and fuming factories when they think about the impact humans impose on their natural environment with carbon emmisions. This is what Al Gore preaches as he bemoans icebergs and climate change. But here are some surprising statistics about modern buildings in general. Notably, theyre responsible for:
30% of all raw materials usage
65% of all energy consumption
30% of waste output each year
39% of whats classified as greenhouse gas emissions
12% of potable (drinking quality) water usage
Do these statistics surprise you? They do represent a compelling argument in favor of constructing sustainable, green houses as well as commercial buildings. As time goes on, more communities, cities, and municipalities have implemented green building standards. The U.S. General services Administration increased its minimum requirement for new construction and substantial renovation of Federally-owned facilities to LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold in 2013.
Theyre not so stringent as structural or electrical building codes yet, but they certainly outline general guidelines and information.
LEED Takes the Lead
LEED is the standards body leading the pack in sustainable building standards. Theyve developed LEED for Homes.
This is their rating system for dwellings looking to lower energy bills, fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and smaller indoor toxin levels, including carbon monoxide and radon gas.
As soon as the home has been inspected and has been granted LEED certification, the owner be reassured and the certification becomes a serious marketing tool when the home goes on the market for sale. Electric and natural gas prices tend to peak when least expected.
In fact, Cap and Trade legislation ensures that costs go even higher; the Heritage Foundation estimates a 50% increase for the average American household.
The LEED Certification Checklist
The certification checklist covers quite a bit and contains such areas as:
Quality management for durability
Building site selection (above the floodplain defined by FEMA, no endangered species, etc.)
Obviously, this list is most easiest met with new home construction. But to be 100% compliant, it all needs to begin on the architects drafting table. But if youre dealing with a remodeling project, dont despair!
Whenever a remodeling contractor is involved, the new items can be procured from green building materials. Basically, this involves looking at each item and asking some simple questions.
What raw materials were used to make the construction materials?
What adhesives were used?
What is the material's manufacturer's stated commitment to sustainability and green building practices?
Are any toxic fumes emitted? (VOC)
Obviously, green and sustainable home building is a work in progress. Still, it has become obvious that its not simply a fad. Its a true movement driven by concern, health, and economic reality.
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About the Author:
Kelly R. Smith was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.