From saving the planet to simply saving the green in their wallet, there are as many different opinions on ‘what is green’ as there are shades of green on paint chip samples.
In its simplest form green building encompasses products, building techniques and comprehensive project management that emphasize:
An Energy Star home in one that is built in such a way that it is expected to use at least 15% less energy than a typical new home.
The energy performance of a home is evaluated by a Home Energy Rating System, or HERS Rating. It is similar to energy rating systems used for appliances (the yellow sticker you find on the front) that estimates the operating efficiency of the appliance. A HERS rating is based on computer modeling of the features of the home such as insulation type and thickness, window performance ratings, type of appliances and lights, size and situation of the home. It is used to predict the energy performance of a home before it is built. The lower the HERS rating, the better.
The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index is the industry standard by which a home's energy efficiency is measured. It’s also the nationally recognized system for inspecting and calculating a home's energy performance.
For more information on HERS ratings, see Residential Energy Services Network website www.resnet.us.
The answer is, "It depends."
For example, wood products, such as lumber can be certified by either the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). Products you might buy at the local grocery, home improvement or office products store may have been certified by the "Green Seal" organization.
Other products may carry certifications from other organizations, and, some companies make up their own certifications. Just because a product says it is "certified green" doesn't necessarily mean it has undergone any particular performance testing or rigorous evaluation. Check out the certifying organization's criteria before believing the label.
Again, the answer is, "It depends".
There are some aspects of green building that may not cost any more than a comparable non-green version. For example, bamboo flooring is considered green, and it costs about the same as other hardwood flooring. Reclaimed flooring is also considered green, but the cost to purchase it is much higher.
Passive solar homes don't necessarily cost any more to build than any other comparable home; they just incorporate different design features.
However, there are other green products, such as solar panels, that can significantly increase the 'up-front' cost of a home. But they will also save more than they cost over the life of the home.
It all depends on what elements of green are included in the home.
Bridlewood Builders is a division of Leaders in Excellence, Inc., based in Harrisburg, PA.
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