Tag Archives: homes

High Performance at Zero Cost

When evaluating systems to incorporate into your green home, it is easy to get caught up in direct cost comparisons of similar products.  For instance, it is easy to compare the costs of an 80% and 90% efficient gas furnace.  There are up-front costs, and then there are operating costs.  Even though the 90% furnace will undoubtedly cost less in the long run, the extra up-front costs can often be disillusioning.

A holistic look at the home as a system can help a builder bear those costs in the budget by reducing costs with additional strategies.  Here’s a quick-fire way to actually reduce construction costs while simultaneously improving the energy efficiency of a home: Continue reading

Sourcing Materials – Sustainable Selection Criteria

There are several deciding factors that each builder uses when sourcing materials and products for use in the homes they build.  Traditionally, these have been elements such as price, suitability, quality, and availability.  The order of importance in ranking these elements is somewhat decided by us individually, influenced by external forces such as budget and client expectations.

With our sustainable construction goals, we can add additional criteria to the list above, and simply rank products as they best fit.  This is the beginning of life-cycle analysis, which we discuss in more detail in a later article – for now, however, we are just interested in outlining the basic criteria we can quickly use

Glass and Steel Construction

to determine suitable products to use.  There are three main elements of consideration noted in national certification programs such as LEEDÒ for HomesÔ or the NAHB Green Building ProgramÔ. Products that feature one or more of these elements are considered ‘Environmentally Preferred Products’.

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Energy Star

Features of ENERGY STAR Qualified New Homes

To earn the ENERGY STAR, a home must meet guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These homes are at least 15% more energy efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code (IRC), and include additional energy-saving features that typically make them 20–30% more efficient than standard homes.

ENERGY STAR Label
This label identifies a home as having earned the ENERGY STAR

And with homebuyers increasingly interested in green building, energy efficiency is the place to start. That’s because the energy used in homes often comes from the burning of fossil fuels at power plants, which contributes to smog, acid rain, and risks of global warming. So, the less energy used, the less air pollution generated. And the easy way to make sure a new home is energy efficient is to look for the blue ENERGY STAR mark, the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency. Learn more about how Green Begins with ENERGY STAR Blue PDF (130KB). Continue reading