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Are Green Homes The Wave Of The Future In Home Building?

More and more frequently I read that the “green home” is the way of the future in the home building industry. With just a fraction of 1% of the homes today being green, I’m not so sure, however. It maybe 20 to 30 years from now, but I question the assertion that in the next decade that 50% of the homes will be green homes. Unless of course the phrase “green home” is redefined. Similar to how pork is described today as the other “white meat”.

A green home is a home that is designed and built to use less water and energy and is constructed using recycled materials. To be certified as a green home, the home usually needs to be less than 2500 sqft in total living area. There are a number of organizations around the country that specify what qualifies as a green home or green material. Some of the organizations include the EPA’s Energy Star program, Environments for Living, and HealthyBuilt Homes. These organizations rate homes on a point or star system. A green home, for example, with a 5 star rating is considered to be at the highest level of green conformance.

To qualify as a green home, a home needs to incorporate several key features. First, it must be a tight house so that there is little to no air leakage inside or out. Second the home needs to be insulated with green insulation material that also has a high insulation value, e.g. rigid foam insulation that does not outgas. Third, air conditioning and air duct work has to be sized properly for the house. Basically the air conditioning system needs to be highly efficient and minimized to no more than what the home really needs. Fourth, the home has to employ water and electricity conservation techniques.

Green home proponents claim the cost of building a green home is only 3 to 5% higher than existing home building costs. Again, I question these numbers. Typically a green home is a custom home, and a custom home usually has much higher material and construction costs than a standard home.

The green home is without question an excellent goal, however I think the residential home building industry will be slower to move in this direction than its proponents think. Home costs continue to represent a higher percentage of homeowner’s income, and as a result the green home will be out of reach and unaffordable for many. Unless the government provides significantly higher incentives for builders and homeowners to make and buy these homes, the green home will remain in the category of windmills and solar energy. Neat ideas that have yet to become viable market opportunities.

Submitted by:

Mark Donovan

Over the past 20+ years Mark Donovan has been involved with building homes and home additions. For more DIY home improvement information visit http://www.HomeAdditionPlus.com and http://www.homeaddition.blogspot.com.




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