Green building is certainly a hot topic these days. For builders striving to reduce the environmental footprints of the homes they build, the process encompasses a wide range of materials, products and systems.
But does building green really mean anything to you as a homebuyer? Does it matter how your foundation is built as long as it doesn’t leak or how your framed home is structured on that foundation as long as it’s strong? You may recognize and perhaps even appreciate seeing the Energy Star label on windows and appliances, but what’s the tangible benefit of recycled-content drywall or certified wood doors to your daily life … and your pocketbook?
As a professional builder who is ready and able to respond to what our homebuyers want — including homes with better energy efficiency and indoor air quality — we also recognize that buyers need to see how our efforts impact them personally.
To that end, we strive to educate our clients about the various “green building” methods and materials we employ. Along with contributing to our planet, we approach this from the perspective of the practical benefits to our owners and their families.
The First Step. Using a preformed factory built foundation like the one pictured below (Superior Walls) shows the difference in the site work needed to do it the old way and the newer green methods.
And, our panelized method of framing, in a factory where all waste is reused, is green, fast and more importantly precision built. This enables each method, foundation and framing, to be guaranteed for up to 15 and 10 years respectively.
The Finish is in the Details. Once your home goes up it is essential to understand that Green building is just getting started.
Hidden Gems. The bulk of a comprehensive green building effort happens behind the finishes. Instead of touting the R-value of the attic insulation or the solar heat gain coefficient of the windows, we talk about comfort: no more drafty feelings by windows and doors; no more temperature differences between floors or rooms; the ability to walk around in your bare feet. Those benefits seem to resonate far better than any technical information.
Breathe Easier. To help save energy and boost indoor comfort, green builders often use non-toxic paints, flooring, and other interior finishes — as well as ventilation systems — that improve the quality of the indoor air.
Rather than explore the world of vent fans and semi-gloss paint, we often phrase our efforts in terms that address allergies, respiratory problems, and other sensitivities that our homebuyers might suffer … and will appreciate not having in their new homes.
Easy Recycling. We not only want to encourage but also help facilitate recycling household waste. Our kitchen design professionals can sit down with you to provide convenient bins within the kitchen and laundry cabinet areas to make it easier to collect those items and get them to the curb and out of the landfill.
Future Green: Monitors and Electric Cars. While certainly not mainstream, in-home computer programs that allow homeowners to see and adjust their use of energy and water, raise or lower the temperature of their home or a single room, from inside or while they are outside in their “electric cars”. These are great visual reminders of future green building efforts.
The bottom line is that builders often get caught up in the details and technical specs of green building; professional builders understand that to be truly beneficial, those efforts have to improve the quality of everyday life.