What is a Green Home?

Green homes are much better than conventional homes – but what makes a home green?

Typically, a green home is an energy efficient home that at minimum saves at least 30% in energy costs versus a conventional new home (and savings can be significantly higher), conserves water, protects the surrounding site environment, uses non-toxic paints and finishes, and thus creates a healthy living space for you and your family.

In order to reap the savings associated with building a green home, though, it is important to hire professionals who are experts in the green building field. Interview and hire an architect who is a LEED accredited professional, even if you are not looking to have your new home LEED certified. A LEED architect has industry-recognized expertise. A green home starts with a green home design, or sustainable design, addressing the elements of geography, site, water efficiency, energy, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality.

A few benefits of working with an architect focused on the sustainable aspects of design and construction of your new home are that he or she will: 1) design your home to maximize spatial requirements as well as energy and water consumption; 2) design the home to limit the negative impact of the building on the immediate environment; and 3) explore various green technologies, renewable energy systems, green building products, and energy efficient building systems that fit well with the site – and your pocketbook.

Your builder is also an important part of your green team. Interview numerous builders (at least three) and visit homes both completed and under construction. Ask what makes the house green, as well as specific questions about the systems and materials. A green builder will be able to offer simple explanations and give recommendations as to best products to use. Most green architects will help you choose the builder who is right for your project and who will work well for you.

Throughout the design and construction processes your green architect and builder will educate you on the operation and maintenance of the green materials and systems you selected for your energy efficient home. These benefits and savings will begin during the construction process and continue for the life of the home!

Eco-Friendly, Green Home in Florida

Florida Green Building Coalition and Green Home in Florida

Many of us have recently been hearing about growth in a few areas of our economy. For example: social media and on-line shopping are growing and there are predictions that tourism and travel are going to take off. Prognosticators are forecasting an elevated demand in the market for “Green Homes.” It is intriguing, not because “Green Homes” deliver great lifestyle for Americans, but surprising simply because it is taking place so quickly. The time has arrived! I will do my best to present what every future owner of “Green Homes” should know as we enter a new era of eco-friendly homes.

Now, what exactly is a “Green” Home?

A Green home is typically designed to be eco-friendly, ingesting less water, using renewable materials, generating less waste, being energy-efficient, and delivering healthy livable space for homeowners. Owning a Green Home possesses both tangible and intangible benefits.

Tangible benefits:

• Savings in Energy: 50 – 70 %
• Savings in Water: 30 – 50%

Intangible benefits:

• Enhancing air quality
• Health and well-being of the residents
• Conservation of scarce of national resources
• Effective waste management
• Day lighting
• Enhancing marketability of the project.

What’s the Florida Green Home market offering today?

Well, the quickest answer is, not too much. There are a few construction companies that are offering certified green homes to a marketplace, which is definitely considered to be a good niche. Many builders and landscapers are using selected “green” features, such as solar panels, energy-efficient lighting, waste water treatments, landscaping designs, etc. Even though all these are all welcome improvements, simply contributing a few eco-friendly features is not enough for a home to be considered “GREEN”. We might call it eco-conscious, but it cannot be certified as “green” on these criteria alone.

Any homebuyer looking for a Green home ought to realize that there is a lot of “green washing” in the market. Nearly every single builder these days promises he “builds green” by demonstrating few of eco-friendly features. However, in reality, very few builders perform due diligence, with respect to protecting the environment, prior to marketing their project. There are virtually no checks and balances on the life-cycle of building materials, whether or not the design and style of the house is energy-efficient, the level of chemical contaminants being released into the environment during construction, and what is the actual durability of the building and all systems in it. This approach may sound confusing for a home buyer, however it doesn’t have to be.

What are the requirements for being certified “Green”?

A holistic perspective is needed when preparing for the construction of an eco-friendly home. Besides being energy-efficient, the builder must ensure that there is negligible disruption to the home site. In addition, it also should provide excellent indoor eco-friendly quality for its residents. When buying or constructing eco-friendly homes it is beneficial to verify that the project is actually CERTIFIED GREEN.

Nowadays, virtually any developer and every private homeowner has the option of having their project Certified Green. These certifications are providing home buyers with information of how “green” the Green Home really is. There is an organization in Florida that currently offers such a certification, the Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC). In accordance to the FGBC, every “green” homebuilder needs to cut down the burden on the natural environment and increase value of the home via a voluntary Florida Green Home designation. The purpose of the FGBC is to provide each builder/developer with the guidance and tools required to become a Florida “warm and friendly” builder.

The FGBC has developed a rating system which draws from the LEED green building rating system for every type of development. The FGBC rates green homes Silver, Gold, or Platinum Certified based on the greenness of the building. As the name indicates, Platinum is regarded as the peak of efficiency, health, comfort and quality. Such a qualification is practically impossible to achieve without having the holistic approach previously mentioned. This approach is a win-win for both the developer and the buyer.

* For the homebuilder such a rating may well improve the marketability of his/her project.
* For the homebuyer it will provide a specific assurance of good quality for his/her investment.

What should the homebuyer know before investing?

Despite the increased cost and planning involved in the construction of a certified green home, the benefits far outweigh the initial difficulties. Acquiring such a certification involves an incredible amount of study, planning, focus on detail, and persistence. Green home plans involve extended designing time to make sure that the final package is the most energy-efficient possible. Hence, it is natural that builders may charge a little bit extra for a green home, in comparison with a conventional one. It is essential for the homebuyers to understand that this type of certification contains a certain premium linked to it. A homebuyer should expect to invest from 6% to 15% extra initially. Considering a home as longterm investment, every homebuyer should realize that this preliminary cost will pay for itself in spades, via savings on water and energy costs, increased durability, improved productivity, and superiority of waste management. The resulting minimization of impact on the environment and decreased CO2 pollutants are simply the “cherry on a cake” of owning a Green Home.

Marketing the “Hidden Elements” in Green Home Building

According to The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) up to 50 percent of new homes will contain significant green elements by 2010 and the choice of the current consumers is evident since green building is environmentally friendly and efficient in many ways.

Let’s take a look at its “hidden elements” to begin with, site specific design is oriented to get as much natural light as possible. It works by using solar energy. Doors and windows located in the right place provide light being good entryways of natural lightning. Saving existing trees on site helps to shade.

Rocks being a part of green design can be reused from the site to pave walkways or used for drip lines around house. Rocks are also perfect as bases for exterior post lighting and can be considered as an alternative to plants. They can be used for rockeries to make rock gardens.

Then, the whole house system building is designed to reduce the heating and cooling system sizes, thanks to tighter building envelopes, let in more natural light reducing lighting bills, provide fresh air by means of HRV system, use less hot water owing to short plumbing runs and heat water saving energy with the help of hot water tanks.

Green homes make efficient use of the space. There is more usable living area, as a result. Flexible spaces with open floor plans have many benefits. For example, having a well thought out space that can be used as a guest room, 2nd office, craft room, or a kid’s play area.

Finally, the neighbourhood connectivity is a model for future comfortable living: walkable streets, centralized schools and parks, restaurants public transportation nearby and ability to ride bikes. Green homes are built closer to places where you spend your time. The purpose meant is you can easily walk home from restaurant or ride your bike to work.

By following the green lane, you have to prove yourself as a role model for the younger generations, so that they get inspired and get concerned to keep the world around them green. Greener cities with all their hush can prove to be more worthy places to live in and when treasured with green homes they become even worthier.

So the magic mantra should be, “Go green and enjoy Life!”