Building a Green Home That Stacks Up to the Competition

Green… Sustainable… Net Zero Home… Low Impact Building…Energy Star… NC Healthy Built Home… LEED

We seem to be inundated with so much “green” lingo these days, it becomes difficult to know what is legitimate and what isn’t. At a recent “Designing for Impact” lecture, Melanie Moeller, with The Boggs Collective, defined sustainability as “the capacity to endure.” Simple and straightforward, this definition really sums it up.

Often for clients considering “green” home design, the process of reducing one’s carbon footprint while maintaining aesthetics, can seem overwhelming. Understanding the basics is essential, so you can make educated decisions about your own project that based upon your needs and criteria.

There are many online resources which outline the basics of green building. Green building and design is becoming more the norm as homeowners realize the substantial benefits associated with eco-friendly design.

Green homes are rated according to the HERS Index, a scoring system established by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET). A green home’s HERS Index is obtained through an in-depth on-site inspection and analysis of your home by a RESNET rater. The reference score is 100, where more energy efficient homes score lower and those that consume more energy score above 100. You can find HERS Index Charts online to show the scoring scale.

If you are looking for ways to lower your home’s energy consumption consider any of the following “green” building ideas. And when building your own “green” home, consider working with an architect experienced in green design. There are many ways to save “green” when going “green.” It’s important to fully research all the products available in home design to make your dwelling as eco-friendly as your heart desires.

Here are some products/techniques to consider when looking to build or renovate your home with “green” in mind:

  • Recycled Products: Recycled decking, counter tops, tiles, carpets & rugs; renewable wood & engineered wood for flooring and construction materials
  • Spray Foam Insulation: Stops air and moisture infiltration
  • Efficient Heating/Water Solutions: Examples include gas fired on-demand water heaters, geothermal heat pump, programmable thermostats
  • Solar Harvesting: Solar Panels, Solatube & SolarStar skylights
  • Energy Star Appliances
  • Efficient Plumbing Fixtures: Low flow toilets, faucets & shower heads
  • Lighting: Energy efficient compact fluorescent and LED light bulbs, dimmer switches
  • Water Harvesting/Saving: Rainwater harvesting barrels and cisterns
  • Sealed Ducts & Air Infiltration System: Ensure appropriated flow of air and prevent leakage
  • Efficient Windows & Doors: Filter heat from sun, and decrease leakiness of house
  • Waterproofing: Foundation waterproofing systems with drainage mats, Good quality flashing around windows and doors to prevent moisture leakage
  • Eliminate Site Waste: Pre-cut studs and other materials cut down waste to landfill
  • Adhesives, Paints & Sealants: Low VOC, plus additives that resist mold growth
  • Roof Shingles: Shingles with Solar Reflective Index (SRI)
  • Use Products from Local Suppliers: Local stones, tiles, flooring, etc.
  • Water Efficiency in Landscaping: Native and drought resistant plants & efficient irrigation system
  • Central Vac System: To control dirt/pollutants in the home

6 Reasons To Build A Green Home

We hear buzz words like “going green” all the time. When you log into your online banking institution or pay any number of bills, you’re confronted with the “Go Green” prompt, asking you to reduce your monthly consumption of paper and fuel. We see energy-efficient cars zipping around in traffic. You go to the grocery store and are asked if you’d like to purchase their eco-friendly shopping bags. There’s no doubt that “going green” is trendy. Whether it’s trendy because of a natural inclination to improve our planet’s health or simply because it’s something “cool”, the trend doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. As much as the green revolution has touched on all our day-to-day activities, it’s also beginning to revolutionize the homebuilding industry. A study by NAHB and McGraw-Hill has found that between 2005 and 2010, green homebuilding has increased by 500%. That’s truly amazing! Again, one can only conjecture the specific reasons for this massive increase, but here are just a few reasons why building a green home is beneficial to you and the planet.


Perhaps the green home’s biggest appeal is its ability save energy. With rising energy costs and minimal renewable energy sources, it’s not a big surprise that homeowners are seeking refuge. Green homes can save you 30% or more on your monthly energy bills. This is accomplished by home orientation, efficient insulation, efficient HVAC systems, high performance windows, and more.


Buildings use 12% of the total water consumed in the United States. This usage can be dramatically reduced in green homes through the use of Water Sense appliances, Energy Star appliances, low flow faucets and shower heads, etc. By reducing our water consumption, we’re also reducing the amount of energy needed to purify it and deliver it to the home, as well as treat it and return it back to the environment.


Indoor pollution is a grossly underestimated problem in the United States. Your indoor environment is usually more polluted than your outdoor environment. Couple this with the fact that most Americans spend 90% of their time indoors. This can lead to troublesome health problems like asthma and cancer. Green homes’ HVAC systems are designed to have better ventilation, moisture management, filtration, etc. Also, green homes typically do not use dangerous building materials like formaldehyde and other toxic chemicals.


Eco-friendly homes are a great investment. Not only do they save you money in the long run via your reduced monthly energy bills, but they have great resale value.


Construction and demolition materials accounts for 60% of our non-industrial waste. Green building reduces their amount of waste by using advanced framing techniques, fewer resources, renewable resources, efficient floor plans, and reclaimed or recycled materials.


Buildings account for approximately 38% of the U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. Since green homes reduce energy consumption, they also reduce our carbon dioxide emissions. Green building also reduces our carbon footprint by reducing the amount of materials and resources needed for construction.

Beat the Economy – Buy a Green Home

The poor economy in the United States has had a devastating effect on the family’s ability to afford a quality new home. Banks are instituting new loan rules; some of those new rules are limiting the amount of money people can spend on a new home. What can a family in need of a new home do? Why not go green? People interested in new home should “go green” because they will save money and be able to take advantage of government incentives.

There are many interesting and cost effective ways to create a green home. To start, the new home buyer should be looking at the basic construction of a home. This means the buyer needs to examine the basement, the walls, and the roof. For example, if a buyer finds a home with energy efficient wall construction, but a lack of proper insulation in the attic, he or she should look at other homes. Although it is important to have energy efficient appliances in a home, the appliances do not make a green home, the proper building materials and techniques do.

Local contractors have the ability to build green homes. There are many different green building methods and materials available. Green homes can be found throughout the nation, in both rural and urban areas. So, a person should not take an attitude that he or she is in an area where green homes are not available.

The availability of the green energy efficient home is actually increasing. This is because people are demanding access to these homes and because new technologies are driving the cost of energy efficient products down. A new home customer can find a variety of products to help with the creation of a green home. Plus, because green homes save money in the long run, and because green products are becoming cheaper, someone looking for a new home should be able to find quality green products that will help him or her create a new green home.