Reduced Environmental Impact: Green homes have a smaller carbon footprint
through lower energy consumption and they conserve more resources and raw
materials than traditional homes.
Lower Utility & Water Bills: Lower bills reward
green homeowners each and every month, and help to recoup the upfront costs on
higher efficiency systems.
Healthier Home: Breathe deep with improved air
quality, less exposure to mold and fewer VOC toxins.
Heightened Durability & Reduced Maintenance:
High-performance homes are built to last and require less upkeep and fewer
repairs, saving both money and precious family time.
Heightened Comfort: More consistent room
temperatures and humidity levels, coupled with fewer drafts keep families cozy
and comfortable all through the seasons.
Increased Home Value & ROI: Going green is an
investment. These high-performance homes will hold their value as green building
increasingly becomes the industry standard.
Fortunately, in the case of building or renovating, much of the extra research
required to learn about a green home can be alleviated by hiring an experienced
architect and builder to guide you through the process. These skilled
professionals can help you make the best decisions for your home and family. (Be
sure to check out our growing directories of experienced green architects and
Green Building certification programs
provide further roadmaps to creating a truly top-of-the-line green home. Such
programs outline criteria against which potential green homes can be checked
(typically through a non-partial third-party). Everything from tree preservation
to building products to the home's performance on a variety of tests is taken
into consideration, and points are awarded for each component that is met.
Within each program, there are often several levels of certification that
further define how green a home truly is.
The Big Question: What Does It Cost?One of the first questions to grace the lips of aspiring homeowners is “how much
will it cost?”
It’s understandable, of course, today more than ever before.
At a time when Americans are learning to cut back and do without, opting for
“premium features” of a green home can seem counterintuitive.
Not so fast.
When considering a home (green or otherwise) it’s vital to look beyond the
sticker price and consider the total cost of ownership of owning that home. When
going green, learning to view higher upfront costs as an investment is key.
Additional expenses will pay for themselves in the form of lower energy and
water bills, tax and insurance credits, and reduced maintenance and repair
needs, compared to a “regular” home.
Moreover, as green building becomes more
mainstream, so does the price, and as a result, the “race to zero” incremental
costs for green building is off and running.
There is still a long way to go,
and more complicated technologies carry a higher price tag, but in general you
can have a very energy efficient, high-performing, healthy home for a nominal
extra fee. More importantly, the savings you will experience over the lifespan
of your home are truly inspiring, and help to offset the upfront costs you
In 1983, after years of vacationing in South Carolina, Mrs. Judith Rigg and her
husband, Emil, decided to trade their green home in Bethesda, Maryland, for a
new one in Hilton Head, SC. “We planned to live in our new home for only five
years,” says Mrs. Rigg, “but that turned out to be 15.” The Riggs, who embraced
green building years before it became an industry hot topic, are now a wonderful
testament to the benefits of living in a green home.
At that time, their 2,700
square foot green home in Hilton Head cost them an average of $50 a month in
electricity bills – the same as their 750 square foot, non-green guest house on
the same property. Their solar batch water heater, which utilizes solar panels
to heat the water, cost them only about $20 a year to run. “Whereas a normal
house our size would require a seven-ton heater, we only needed a half-ton
heater,” Mrs. Rigg explains.
The superior energy efficiency of a green home
reminds us that it’s truly a high-performance home. Attention to detail and
durable, sustainable materials makes a green home far superior to the average
home on the market.
“My green homes are the most comfortable homes that I have
ever lived in,” says Mrs. Rigg, attributing much of her satisfaction to the
abundant natural light. “It feels more like we are living outside than indoors.”
A little farther north, Oak Terrace Preserve is helping to revitalize the
3,000-acre historic center of North Charleston, which was formerly the site of a
naval base, through sustainable development. In February 2007, J.R. Kramer, his
wife, Holly, and their then-infant son became the very first family to move into
a home in the neighborhood.
Like all of the homes in the community, the
Kramers’ is EarthCraft certified, and the happy homeowners are extremely
thankful for their home’s careful and thoughtful construction. This scrupulous
process is paying off, literally. In their previous home in West Ashley, a
suburb of Charleston, the Kramers’ utility bills were regularly between $180 and
$250. Now, in their larger (approximately 1,600 square-feet) EarthCraft home,
their utility bills have been under $100 nearly every month, despite the fact
that both Mr. and Mrs. Kramer work from home and Mrs. Kramer is a stay-at-home
mom. “There is always someone in the house using electricity, running the
dishwasher, or washing baby clothes in the washing machine,” says Mr. Kramer.
The home’s durability is another great feature. In particular, the home is
protected by Hardiboard siding and a metal roof, which came with a 40-year
warranty. “It was painted a natural aluminum color to reflect heat, whereas a
shingled roof would absorb heat,” explains Mr. Kramer. Their deck is also
sustainable – rather than traditional decking, theirs is stain and rot
As the advantages of green homes become more desirable (and
necessary) green elements will likely become standard on homes. Therefore, homes
without green attributes may actually lose value moving forward. Going green
today is a valuable way to protect your investment in your home, regardless of
whether you think you will ever put it back on the market.
Mr. Kramer thinks that the industry will eventually evolve to the point that
sustainable communities and green building will become the norm. “It makes too
much sense – environmentally, economically – not to.”
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