Understanding the “Buzz” Behind Green Homebuilding

Green Homebuilding Construction Site at Dusk

You’ve probably heard the terms, “eco-friendly homes” and “earth homes” buzzing around the community, but what exactly makes them different from a traditional home? To understand this, let’s define green homebuilding and take a look at how eco-friendly building standards differ from modern homebuilding, as well as examine how you can benefit from a green home.

Green Homebuilding Defined

Green homebuilding involves using environmentally-safe building materials and limiting waste throughout the entire construction of a home. Following the “ICC-700 National Green Building Standards®,” homebuilders are awarded points based on how much the project adheres to conservation efforts and green building standards. The point system is based on a LEED Certification (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) and there are four tiers:

  • Certified green (40-49 points)
  • Silver (50-59 point)
  • Gold (60-79 points)
  • Platinum (80+ points)

So now that we’ve defined green homebuilding and discussed how it’s measured, here’s how it differs from traditional building.

Green Homebuilding vs. Traditional Homebuilding: What’s the difference?

In general, green builders and traditional builders disagree on a few things when it comes to erecting a house. Specifically, a green homebuilder seeks:

1. Sustainable Building Materials

Green homebuilders are very careful when it comes to the type of building materials they use. They conserve waste by using recycled materials and they use products made from renewable sources. Traditional homebuilders are less concerned about sustainability when selecting raw materials.

2. Improved Energy Efficiency

A traditional builder is not as concerned about taking measures to improve energy efficiency. Low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints, energy-efficient windows, water-conserving fixtures, and ENERGY STAR certified appliances are top priorities of a green homebuilder.

3. Economical Building Standards

The goal of a green homebuilder is to conserve raw materials and reduce the amount of waste in landfills by adhering to economical building practices. Traditional homebuilders don’t have this mindset and, as a result, they generate a lot of construction waste. In fact, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there is approximately 160 million tons of building-related construction and demolition waste in America, and 60 percent of it ends up in landfills. Unlike traditional builders, green construction companies strive to eliminate this problem.

Go “Green” for Increased Savings

Green homebuilding offers homebuyers significant benefits and cost savings over traditional homebuilding. If you’re looking to build or buy a new home, here are just some of the benefits of going green:

  • Cuts energy consumption by 30 to 60 percent
  • Saves $200 to $400 (20%) annually on energy bills
  • Has an eight percent higher resale value over conventional homes
  • Contributes to 48 percent of the affordable housing sector

Understanding what green certification is and how it differs from traditional homebuilding is your first step in realizing the benefits of an eco-friendly home. Give us a call at 360.601.6292 to get started today!

Eco-Friendly Home Renovation Tips

Eco-Friendly Home

So you just bought an older home that needs some work and you’re thinking of making some eco-friendly renovations. Maybe you rip out that hideous Formica® countertop in the kitchen and replace it with a paper-based countertop made from sustainable tree pulp, or maybe you install a new bathroom vanity with bamboo plywood using a low volatile organic compound (VOC) adhesive. Whether you’re remodeling a kitchen, living room, bedroom, or bathroom, there are several earth-friendly things you can do to transform your home into a living space that is safe on the environment.

Use Recycled Materials

When it comes to making an eco-friendly home improvement, it’s best to use materials that are made from recycled goods. Known as “green building materials” or byproducts, these materials contain fewer pollutants and they help reduce unnecessary waste.

Composite decking, for example, is engineered from both recycled plastics and wood waste, making it a great choice for homeowners who are concerned about the environment. Plus, composite materials won’t warp, crack, splinter, or rot like traditional wood decking.

Other examples of eco-friendly materials include shingles made from quarry waste, driveway pavers made from recycled rubber tires, and masonry veneers made with stone chips.

Avoid High-VOC Products

If you’ve ever driven a new car you probably noticed an unpleasant odor the second you got behind the wheel. This “new car” smell is often a result of sealers and adhesives used in the interior of a newly manufactured car. Known as VOCs, these toxic chemicals are not only found in newly manufactured cars, but they’re also inside the home.

Exposure to VOCs is not only harsh on your nose, but it’s also harmful to your health. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exposure to VOCs can have short-term as well as long-term health effects, including:

  • Irritation to the eye, nose, and throat
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of Coordination
  • Nausea
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Cancer

VOCs can emit from products such as wood preservatives as well as paint. For an eco-friendly home remodel, look for kiln-dried lumber and water-based paint, as these products are non-VOC materials.

Repurpose Salvaged Materials

Instead of throwing away old furniture, you can repurpose them for other uses. This is not only an eco-friendly way to reduce the amount of waste in landfills, but it’s also a great way to add character to your home. For example, install hooks onto an old headboard, mount it to the wall, and use it as a coat rack. Or take a bedroom door and turn it into a coffee table for your living room.

You can find salvaged materials at lumber mills and lumber yards for many of your eco-friendly projects. Most of these places have a lot of waste, so it might be a good idea to talk to the yard manager about using some of it for your projects. Pallet recycling centers are another great place to look for building materials, and some of these centers will even make donations.