What is a “Green” home?

Simply stated, a green home uses less energy, water, and natural resources; creates less waste; and is healthier for the people living inside than that of a conventional home.

Green building increases the efficiency with which buildings use to harvest energy, water, and materials, and reduces building impacts on human health and the environment through better siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance. It is a whole-building approach to design and construction practices that promote the economic health and well-being of your family, the community, and the environment. It uses building techniques that minimize environmental impacts and reduce energy consumption of buildings, while contributing to the health and productivity of its occupants. A smart step toward economic rewards, green building also has positive social and environmental ramifications that assert your commitment to the future and the way we live for years to come.

A green building is one where the qualities of both the indoor and outdoor environments have been considered and protected during its design construction, maintenance and use.

Site Sensitive -

  • site selection & planning
  • landscaping
  • stormwater management
  • construction & demolition recycling

Protective of Natural Resources –
  • materials reuse
  • efficient building systems
  • use of recycled, rapidly renewable, and local materials

Energy Efficient –
  • low energy usage
  • clean / renewable energy

Water Efficient –
  • efficient fixtures
  • wastewater reuse
  • efficient irrigation

Healthier Indoor Environment –
  • improved indoor air quality
  • increased daylighting
  • better thermal comfort / control
  • NO HCFs or CFCs
  • Low VOC limits

What are the benefits or advantages of a green home?

Green homes and commercial buildings are safer, healthier, more comfortable, and more durable than conventional buildings. The advantages are
economic benefits, such as lower energy and water bills; environmental benefits, like reduced greenhouse gas emissions; and health benefits, such as reduced exposure to mold, mildew and other indoor toxins. Even better, the net cost of owning a green home is comparable to that of owning a conventional home.

Green design not only makes a positive impact on public health and the environment, is also reduces operating costs, enhances building and organizational marketability, potentially increases occupant productivity and helps create a sustainable environment.

The benefits of green, high-performance buildings are direct, regional and global. Building green provides a range of economic and environmental advantages for families, communities, and the entire planet.

By building green, we can protect the natural world and even have a positive impact. Typical building construction, use, and demolition, as well as the manufacturing of materials, contribute significantly to environmental problems.

Green Building Has Tangible Economic and Public Health Benefits
Average Savings of Green Buildings –
30% Energy Savings 35% Carbon Savings
30-50% Water Use Savings 50-97% Waste Cost Savings

  • Lower operating costs via reduced energy and water bills.
  • Reduced maintenance and replacement costs due to greater durability of materials.
  • Improved indoor environmental quality through use of non-toxic materials.
  • Reduced risk of childhood asthma and other respiratory diseases.
  • Higher productivity, less absenteeism, and reduced insurance costs.
  • Preservation of natural habitats, watersheds, and ecosystems; protection of air and water quality; reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and solid waste.
  • Improved health and performance - students achieve 20% better performance in green schools; patients are discharged an average of 2.5 days earlier in green hospitals.

Health Gains From Improved Indoor Air Quality –

Fresh Air, 41% Fewer Symptoms Pollutant Filter, 42% Fewer Symptoms
Moisture Control, 44% Fewer Symptoms

Why build green?

The Impact of Buildings in the United States -

12% Water Use 71% Electricity Consumption
39% CO2 Emissions 65% Waste Output

  • A typical 1700 sq. ft. wood frame home requires the equivalent of clear cutting one acre of forest.

  • More than 30% of buildings in the US have poor air quality, a serious problem given that most people spend about 90% of their time indoors

U.S. Buildings Impacts on Resources -
39% of Total Energy Consumption 71% of Electricity Consumption
39% of CO2 Emissions 30% of Raw Material Use
30% of Waste Output 12% of Potable Water Consumption

Worldwide, Buildings Account For…
17% Fresh Water Withdrawals 25% Wood Harvest
33% CO2 Emissions 40% Material and Energy Use (45% in China)

Did you know? Excessive consumption is largely responsible for the depletion of natural resources worldwide and the acceleration of global warming. The construction and maintenance of buildings are responsible for 40% of U.S. energy use and 30% of wood and raw materials use. With only 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. uses 25% of the world’s energy resources and contributes more than 25% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Buildings are a main contributor to global warming by generating 30% of U.S. CO2 emissions (the most significant climate change gas).

On the hierarchy of human needs, shelter is only second to food. Everyone wants a place to live. One of the best and easiest ways to lessen the impact on the planet in fulfilling that need is to built environmentally-sound structures. Not only can we improve the global environment, building green can improve your local environment.

Did you know?
  • An EPA report states that 30% of new or renovated buildings have serious indoor air quality problems, and 60% of all buildings are “sick”.
  • According to American Academy of Environmental medicine, “indoor air pollution is 8 to 10 times more important as a source of chronic illness than (outdoor) air pollution.”
  • According the New England Journal of medicine it is estimated that environmental factors account for 72% of cancers. The American College of Allergies estimates that 50% of all illness is aggravated or caused by indoor air pollution.
  • American spend on average 90% of our time indoors in building that are promoting sickness, not health. Research has linked the doubling of asthma rates since 1980 to indoor air pollution.

What makes a building material green?
It Saves Energy.
  • Products that either reduce heating and cooling loads, such as building orientation, high-quality windows, and insulation.
  • Products that use less energy, Such as Energy Star Rated appliances, efficient heating and cooling systems, and florescent lamps.
  • Products that produce energy, such as solar electricity generation systems.

It Conserves Water.
  • Products that conserve water above and beyond what is required by law, such as dual-flush toilets and under-sink flow restrictors.
  • Products that consume less water, such as native landscaping and drought-tolerant plantings.

It Protect Natural Resources.
  • Products with recycled content, such as carpet, tile, wallboard, and wood replacements made from polystyrene.
  • Products made from agricultural waste material, such as wheat straw, sunflower stalks, and rice hulls.
  • Products that reduce material use, such as drywall clips and concrete pigments that turn concrete slabs into finished floors.
  • Products made from rapidly renewable materials, such as bamboo flooring, natural linoleum, cork and textiles made from wool, sisal, hemp, and organic cotton.
  • Wood products from sustainably managed forests and certified according to the principles of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).
  • Salvaged materials, such as bricks, lumber, and plumbing fixtures.

It Contributes to a Safe, Healthy Indoor Environment.
  • Products that don’t release significant pollutants into the building, such as no-VOC paints, formaldehyde free cabinets, and non-toxic caulks, sealers, and adhesives, CRI Green Label carpets and padding.
  • Products that block the spread of or remove indoor pollutants, such as dust mastic, effective ventilation equipment, and air and water filters.
  • Products that warn occupants of health hazards, such as CO detectors and humidity sensors.

It Reduces the Building’s Impact on the Community.
  • Products that mitigate the effects of stormwater runoff, such as permeable pavers, green roofs, and cisterns.
  • Products that provide easy access to alternative modes of transportation, such as bike racks, and storage units.
  • Products that do not need chemical pesticides or treatment, such as plastic lumber, physical termite barriers, and native vegetation.
  • Products that contain no dioxin-producing polyvinylchloride (PVC) or ozone depleting HCFCs.

  • Because each product is different and each person’s reasons for building green are different, priorities need to be set when selected specific products.
  • Green Building is as much about design strategy as about selecting green materials.
  • There is no perfect green materials. Trade-offs are inevitable.
  • Defining whether a building material is “green” is not an exact science. But, there is still a role for objective analysis and testing.

What is LEED?

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is the nation’s foremost coalition of leaders from across the building industry formed to promote sustainable building practices. The USGBC is transforming the building industry by promoting environmentally responsible, community-supportive, profitable, and high-performance green building practices.

The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System is a voluntary, consensus-based national standard for developing and operating high-performance, sustainable buildings. It is a leading edge system for designing, constructing, operating, and certifying the world’s greenest buildings. LEED is based on energy and environmental principles and strikes a balance between established practices and emerging concepts. LEED Certification is something that consumers can look for to readily identify green buildings that have been third-party inspected, performance-tested, and certified to perform better than conventionally built structures.

LEED provides a complete framework for assessing building performance and meeting sustainability goals using state-of-the-art strategies in five credit categories - site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, and indoor air quality.

The integrated design process is a method for optimizing building performance. It is the multidisciplinary strategy that effectively integrates all aspects of site development, building design, construction, and operations and maintenance to minimize a building’s resource consumption and environmental impact while improving the comfort, health and productivity of building occupants.

Integrated design is based on the premise that building projects are more like organisms than inanimate objects. They are an amalgamation of subsystems brought together to create the quality of life. The more successful a project, the more it will support the health of these systems and knit together healthy, interconnected relationships. The less successful projects will either rip apart this web of connections or will reduce the effectiveness of the connections. Understanding these interconnected relationships is the key to producing high-performance and cost-effective LEED projects.