As our environmental consciousness has grown, so has the demand for green homes. A green home brings together a variety of important environmental issues and strategies for living ethically, sustainably and economically in the twenty-first century. A green home combines eco-friendly use of materials, smart design for living and energy conservation. But, in an age where demand for green products and services has soared, we have also seen the dawn of ‘greenwashing’: making questionable claims about eco-friendliness to tempt buyers. So how green is any given ‘green home’?
It can all be a bit confusing, because there are different certification programmes that operate on different levels (local area, state and nationally) and they can vary in the criteria they use. How green a house is also clearly depends on where it’s situated and local environmental problems and issues. Still, there are some criteria that apply more or less across the board.
Two certification bodies in the USA are the frontline authorities on green building standards and quality. They look at a home that claims green building status on a wide range of criteria, and are the first port of call for many home buyers when trying to assess the eco-friendliness of a property all the way through.
The LEED For Homes program (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is run by the US Green Building Council. Homes are assessed in one of four grades (certified, silver, gold and platinum) on a range of criteria. They include energy and water consumption efficiency, materials, and effective siting and landscape use. LEED certification is hard to get and much prized. A platinum rating from this body is really as good as it gets.
The National Green Building Program (also known as NAHBGreen) is part of the trade body, the National Association of Home Builders. They offer two rating systems, for single family and multi-family homes. As well as providing tools for buyers to assess the green credentials of homes, NAHBGreen also works to encourage builders and the home building industry to get on board with eco-friendly construction.
Local authorities and organizations may also be able to help if you’re trying to check out how green a home is. There are also schemes that rate the green credentials of other elements that make up a home. Most of us know of the Energy Star program, for rating household electrical appliances, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense accreditation mark of approval.
However you decide to check on the green credentials of a potential home (or the one you live in now), the key is to do your research on what to look out for. For new builds, it’s worth checking out the builder or company’s green credentials and reputation. The extra homework will help you get the most for your purchase, or for money dedicated to green renovations.
Posted November 20, 2013
by Gabriel Posternak.