Green & Sustainable Building

What is Green Building? 

           Who Says I'm Green?

                   How Green am I?

                          How Green do I want to be?

These are all questions that are typically asked and sometimes the answers are not that easy to define.  To some people being green is recycling your glass and plastic at the curbside.  To others it’s buying an Energy Star labeled appliance, to others it's using high efficiency furnaces and water heaters, to others building their new home to meet Energy Star 3 requirements, to others it’s using solar photovoltaic or geothermal heating and finally others it’s about the sustainability of the products used.  Or perhaps some combination or all of the above.   Is there a right answer.  Not in my opinion!  But any portion of these items can be the first step on your road to being aware of green, using more sustainable products and being good stewards of our energy and natural resources.

Wikipedia identifies 63 different shades of green that are visible to the human eye.  Others say there are over 1000 different shades of green and many may not be discernable to the human eye.  Are there different levels of green?  Yes - there are some out there that if your not their green your not green?  Yes - so how do you know which is best, which one is right or which one is for me?  

You can look to industry accepted standards versus private party opinions and look for a Certified Green Professional, CGP.

What is Green Building?

            Green Building is a systemized approach to building construction.  It guides the site selection, building design, choice of construction materials, type and efficiency of systems within the structure, indoor air quality, the sustanability of the materials, maintenance issues and the energy efficiency all rolled into one!  Together you have a gree product, separately you have green elements.

Green buildings can look different or look just like the house next door to you.  There is no single design for green, but there are basic principles that are consistent with the final designed product.

Energy Efficiency:  The green house should target to use as little energy as possible in accordance with your goals and budget.  Renewable forms of energy should be considered initially or planned for as a future installation as time and budget allow. Fossil fuels may be used initially, with a desire to reduce or eliminate their use in the future.  We can look for the Energy Star label to know that the appliances and lighting being considering will help us meet our conservation goals.

Conservation of Natural Resources:  Many resources are finite in nature.  Some products come from sustainable forests.  Which mean they are grown kind of like your garden.  Several manufacturers of engineered floor joists, beams and headers use timber from sustainable forests.  Other products, like granite, mahogany or water are not sustainable.   Durability of the product, low environmental impact (carbon footprint) and lower maintenance are all items that become an important piece of the green conservation puzzle.

Indoor Air QUality:
  Green houses are designed to be tighter and healthier, so good indoor air quality is critical.  Things like moisture, radon, mold and odors don't ive in a green home.  Construction material, paints, finishes and furniture should not introduce toxins or irritants into the indoor air system.  Even with eaving the windows open,  we need mechanical ventillation to insure a consistant flow of fresh air in the home.  "Build it tight and ventelate it right" is the line to follow in a green home.

Who says I'm Green?

             So when you put all of this together who decides if your "Green" ?  I guess anyone could say they are green, but perhaps by complying with a recognized National Standard, you might have a greater level of confidence that you are really getting something green versus green-washed.

            There are several resources that set a variety of standards for their definition of being green.  Some are from consultants, advocates and others.  Some local jurisdictions have created their own “Green Building Standards” to implement within their community.  These are not right, wrong, better or worse, they all are just different.  However, by building consensus thru a broad based group of industry and private sector parties, good things can happen and an agreed upon set of standards can be defined.

How Green am I?

            What is great about the National Green Building Standard (NGBS) is that you may choose the level of “Green” that you want to achieve.  You take into account your location, lot orientation, local materials and practices, energy efficiencies, landscaping and vegetation to mention a few.  You can attach a budget impact or a cost/benefit analysis to each item and make your level of green tie directly to your budget.  You pick your level of green to define how green you are now and see how green you may want to be! 

How Green do I want to be?

Many will say that directly depends upon your budget.  They are correct, you can spend your way to complete energy independence and have zero usage from outside energy providers.  If your budget allows, go for it!  If not you may want to pick and choose the items that You feel give you the best return for the “Green” you want to spend to be “Green”!

You can use the NGBS pocket guide to review the various items that make up the NGBS rating system.  You can also go on line and do a trial rating of your house as well.   It’s kind of tricky, so that’s where we can come in and help you thru the decision process to get where you want to go on the pathway to “Green”. 


Green like beauty can be in the eye of the beholder.  So take some time to educate yourself on the various standards and rating systems.  Consider what level you may want to achieve and hook up with a Certified Green Professional, CGP, like Scott Homes, Ltd., to help guide you thru the process. 

Here is where we can help, we are certified RESNET raters and Certified Green Professional, CGP certified.  Contact us to start the process of helping you find out How Green am I and How Green Do I Want to Be.

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