Real Estate

Green your home: Location, location... high performance?

Posted August 15, 2012 9:00 a.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 2:03 p.m. EDT

By Peter Winkler, MBA, CSP, Certified EcoBroker, Homes by Dickerson
For New Homes & Ideas, Jodi Sauerbier, Publisher

As the old mantra goes, real estate is about “location, location, location.” In all likelihood, this isn’t going to change anytime soon. What is changing, however, is the growing number of builders who are adopting green-building practices in order to offer high-performance homes. Similar to comparing gas mileage when shopping for a new car, this gives consumers another important factor to consider when purchasing their next home.

What is a "high-performance" home?

A high-performance, or green-certified, home is designed and built to be comfortable, durable, healthy and sustainable. The result is a quality-built home that saves homeowners money, saves energy, and reduces the impact on our environment.

Building a green-certified home starts long before the first hammer is swung. First, builders choose which green building standard to use. The most common green standards include ENERGY STAR® (U.S. DOE & EPA), National Green Building (NAHB), and LEED for Homes (USGBC), although there a number of other regional, statewide or proprietary programs to choose from as well.

Green builders then decide on which components and features to include in their home to improve comfort and efficiency while meeting the requirements of the chosen green standard. These can include, but are not limited to, a properly-sized and balanced HVAC system, exterior air infiltration barriers, advanced framing, effective insulation, sealed ductwork, radiant barriers, sealed and conditioned crawl spaces, water-saving plumbing fixtures, and energy-efficient windows. In addition, green builders are also installing and using paints, cabinets, floor coverings, and insulation with little or no volatile organic compounds, such as formaldehyde, which helps reduce indoor air pollution.

How do I know if a builder has met a green standard?

All of the green building standards listed above require independent, third-party certification by an accredited verifier. In addition to reviewing the site and structure designs, these individuals inspect the home at various stages of construction and conduct performance testing once the home is complete. This enables them to provide the builder with a certificate and energy rating to share with the homeowner.

How much money can I save with a high-performance home?

There are a number of ways a homeowner can save money by purchasing and living in a high-performance home. For example, a number of lenders have green mortgage programs with lower fees and/or interest rates to reward customers who choose to finance a sustainable home purchase. Likewise, many electric and natural gas utility providers offer discounts to those who choose to live in a green-certified home.

Fortunately, the savings don't stop there.

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