Building a Green Home Requires Teamwork

The Traditional Approach

Green home building and remodeling requires a different approach than the traditional, established way of building. Traditionally, the homeowner, you, approaches an architect who designs the home, based on your descriptions, ideas, dreams and wishes. The finished design is then distributed to several general contractors for bid.

The general contractor in turn contacts his/her subcontractors to get bids from them for framing, roofing, plumbing, heating, air conditioning, excavating and foundation work, landscaping, interior finishes.

The bid prices are based on the interpretation of the drawings by each contractor. Rarely do the subcontractors talk to each other during the bid process. Rarely is the architect contacted with questions. Almost never is the homeowner, you, contacted. The contractors’ final bids usually include a list of exceptions and/or a contingency allowance, which might never be used, but is paid for by you anyway.

Homeowners most often accept the lowest bid. Why not? Unless you are familiar with and know the construction business, know the contractor’s quality of work, what other criteria could you apply?

The procedure outlined above often results in considerable construction cost increases, dissatisfied homeowners and sometimes lawsuits.

Huge resources are being neglected and missed when homes are remodeled and built the traditional way: Experience and trade-specific expertise, which could save you time, money and headaches.

The Green Approach To Building A Home

Building a green home must be a systematic approach and done as a team. The project must be looked at as a system, in which each component is connected to and depends on the other components. For example:

  • Location of the home on the property will determine the amount of soil disturbance, excavation and landscaping
  • Location, size and types of windows will impact the heating and cooling requirement
  • Type of heating and cooling equipment will impact space requirements for furnace, heat pump, solar collectors, piping, ductwork, etc
  • Choice of exterior wall will impact first cost versus installation cost versus insulation values versus appearance

You get the idea

Teamwork is required to make it all come together. The folks who design and build your green home, will be working with you and with each other for weeks or months. These are some important questions to ask when assembling your green building team:

  • Do all of the team members agree on the importance of building green and are they committed to it?
  • Do architect and contractors have experience in green home construction and if not, are they willing to learn? The majority if the team should have some experience in designing or building green homes
  • Do you like and respect them? Can you see yourself interacting with each of them frequently and maybe work through some challenges?
  • Do they like and respect each other?
  • Do they take pride in high quality work?
  • Can they accept input about their trade from other trades?

Don’t underestimate the importance of your team getting along and working well together. There will be times during the construction when tempers flare, tensions are high, pressure is on. And this could be just when the insulator has to do some very meticulous work to seal all leaks, while the electrician is breathing down her neck to hurry up so he can get his work done.

It is important to include as many of the trades as possible during the design phase. Decisions about choices in materials or heating system can then be done by all involved parties from a fully informed perspective. For example:

Someone mentioned to you the advantages of using structurally insulated panels (SIP), and that is what you would like to use for your green home. Preliminary investigations show that these panels would have to be shipped from hundreds of miles away. The general contractor suggests using insulated concrete forms (ICF). The factory is only 50 miles away, his team is very experienced with this system and he knows that he can do it cheaper than with SIP. The architect supports this idea, because she also knows that homeowner insurance rates are sometimes lower for homes built with ICFs, due to their resistance to termites, wind and fire.

Or

General contractor, architect and HVAC contractor work closely together to determine if your green home should use solar collectors or a geothermal heat pump system for hot water and heat. They contact the wood truss manufacturer to help determine the impact of the heavy solar collectors on the roof frame. A call to the local geothermal heat pump specialists reveals that your future neighbors down the street installed a geothermal heat pump system two years ago and are very satisfied with it. With all this information, you can now make an informed decision.

When the time comes to put the final cost for your green home construction project together, you can be assured that unexpected costs will be minimal. You will know that you and your green building team are all pulling in the same direction.

Addressing and optimizing key factors up front with the whole team will result in a smoother construction process, lower costs and a much better green home for you and your family.

Some Tips In Building A Green Home

If you are thinking of joining the advocacy of going green, what better way to do it than to start building a green home. You will need to follow certain environmental practices in building a green home – such as those that help lessen (negative) effects on the environment.

First thing you need to consider is building materials. Building a environment friendly home would require materials that are eco-friendly and compliant with the current standards in constructing green homes. You may browse the internet for details regarding the compliances and product info to help you where to get and how to use them. If you have a contractor in mind, make sure that the company offers services specifically for building a green home.

It is imperative to prioritize sustainable materials such as those that can be recycled or natural materials that can be replenished due to their growth rate. Hardwood from large old trees should not be cut down and used, since they take years to grow and the earth beneath will also be affected when they are taken out. Using alternative wood such as bamboo is better since this specie can grow rapidly.

Lightweight concrete is a type of concrete that has been used in building a healthy home for years. However, this type of concrete is not as strong, but it can perform as well as traditional concrete and can hold up to any weather condition. It is often used as home insulation and it’s also capable of retarding fire.

Prefabricated panels for homes are also available and they can be ordered and purchased at reasonable amounts. Generally, they are similarly priced to regular building materials that are used for a typical home. And they must also get approval from organizations that monitor environmental compliances.

In order to have less impact on the environment, building green homes employ appropriate architectural design. Typical green homes are smaller than regular homes like those that are found in rural areas and large counties. Styles may vary from contemporary, bungalow, Victorian, ranch style and many others.

The important thing about building a green home is that it will help lessen the negative effects on the environment in general. There are many factors that you need to consider such as energy and water consumptions, recycling and using eco-friendly materials. Generally, once you have these factors implemented on your green home, you’ll be able to help reduce harmful impacts on the environment and on the earth.

LEED Rating System For “Green” Home Certification Program

LEED Rating System in Palm Coast Florida Green Homes

LEED is a point-based method qualifies and calculates overall performance of a “green” home, which needs to be engineered to have a beneficial impact on energy efficiency, eco-performance and human well-being. LEED is known as a voluntary rating system that stimulates the construction and designs of high-performance “green” homes, which include easily affordable houses, stand-alone custom designed single-family homes, town homes and duplexes, urban and suburban apartments, condominiums and lofts in historic buildings.

For home-buyers, LEED is a scorecard, that provides a clear picture of all the ways and means a “green” home executes at a higher level.

For residents, LEED is a level of quality, sharing reassurance that they are residing in a building “green” home to provide fresh air indoors and enhanced water and energy efficiency.

For home builders, LEED is an instrument accustomed to set targets and keep track of progress throughout the design and construction of a “green” home.

Normally LEED calculates measurements on:

* Indoor Environmental Quality It is not a secret, that the quality of the air in the house is often 2 to 5 times worse, and sometimes more than a hundred times worse, as compared to outdoor air, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Actually a LEED home method was created to reduce exposure of pollutants and toxins in order to enhance fresh indoors air.

* Energy Efficiency The typical American family spends approximately $1,500 each year on energy bills, according to the U.S. government’s Energy STAR program. Based on average Energy STAR scores of LEED homes constructed to date, have the potential to use 20-30% less energy, as well as some up to 60% lesser amount of energy, than the usual home built to the International Code Council’s minimum criteria for energy efficiency. “Use Less Energy” indicates reduced utility bills each month throughout the lifetime of a house.

* Water Efficiency Inefficient water use is costly and risky at the same time. When human population increased and a climate changed, clean water became an extremely scarce source tied to wasteful energy. LEED green homes use revolutionary approaches to decrease a home or office’s water usage and to discover innovative ways to help you recycling water.

* Site Selection The classical meaning of real estate – location, location, location – is extremely true for green homes. LEED recommends houses that are usually near schools, shopping, work and transportation, exploiting quality of your life and minimizing the amount of time you spend in traffic.

* Site Development While in construction, a home can pollute waterways and interfere with natural habitats because of storm water results. LEED “green” homes prevent harmful construction practices and additionally protect the land by landscaping.

* Supplies Selection The supplies and resources that chosen for a house should be thoroughly selected from sustained sources and approved providers. LEED homes also use recycled, reclaimed and reliably acquired materials wherever available.

* Resident’s Information LEED is educating property owners and tenants regarding a house’s “green” features and ways of how to get the highest performance from them. In addition, a LEED home stands as an example of a well-built home and encourages others in the community to follow.

* Innovation LEED motivates builders and designer companies to come across inventive ways to enhance a home’s efficiency, taking into consideration local and regional demands as well as endorsing longevity of your comfortable “green” homes.

To get your “Green” Home LEED Certified, you need:

* “Green” Registration The building team registers a new home project with the LEED for Homes program.

* Good “Green” Teamwork The architect, engineer, builder, and the others, involved in the design and construction, are working tightly in concert to optimize the benefits of a “green”, eco-friendly home and make sure that all the parts function effectively.

* “Green” Verification Throughout the construction, home inspections at significant milestones, frequently integrating an Energy STAR Rating to verify that the project is on the right track.

* “Green” Certification In the final of the process your “green” home is granted points for its accomplishments. Based primarily on the amount of points it gets, the actual green homes will be certified at one of four levels: Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum. For more about LEED method Green Homes in Florida go to: