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Homebuilders and homebuyers across the country are increasingly interested in green building. But what exactly makes a home green?
Green building means improving the way that homes and homebuilding sites use energy, water, and materials to reduce impacts on human health and the environment. Building a green home means making environmentally-preferable and sustainable decisions Did you know that a typical home throughout the building process—decisions that will can cause twice the greenhouse minimize the environmental impact of the home gas emissions of the typical car? while it is being built and over the many years it will be lived in.
There are nearly 50 regional and national green home labeling programs around the country. While each program approaches green building a little differently, each incorporates important elements such as:
Energy efficiency is the place to start. That’s because the energy used in homes often comes from the burning of fossil fuels at power plants, which contributes to smog, acid rain, and risks of global climate change. So, the less energy used, the less air pollution generated. And the easy way to make sure a new home is energy efficient is to look for the blue ENERGY STAR mark, the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency.
ENERGY STAR qualified homes are independently verified to meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These homes save money on utility bills, provide a more comfortable living environment with better indoor air quality, and help protect the environment.
Typical features to look for in ENERGY STAR qualified homes include:
An Efficient Home Envelope, with effective 4,500 lbs of greenhouse levels of wall, floor, and attic insulation properly gases out of our air each installed, comprehensive air barrier details, and high-performance windows.
Efficient Air Distribution, where ducts are this environmental benefit installed with minimum air leakage and lasts for many, many years. effectively insulated;
These energy efficiency improvements save homeowners money—about $200 to $400 per year on utility bills. More importantly, monthly energy savings can easily exceed any additional mortgage cost for the energy efficiency improvements, resulting in a positive cash-flow from the first day of home ownership. As a result, the cost-effectiveness of ENERGY STAR improvements can help offset additional costs associated with other green home features.
What comes after energy efficiency?
Homebuyers can also look for the ENERGY STAR Indoor Air Package label—a new specification developed by EPA to address the indoor environment component of green building. Homes that achieve this level of excellence are first qualified as ENERGY STAR, and then also incorporate more than 60 additional home design and construction features to control moisture, chemical exposure, radon, pests, ventilation, and filtration. Together, these features help protect qualified homes and their residents from mold, chemicals, combustion gases, and other airborne pollutants.
Completing the green home picture
Through ENERGY STAR qualified homes and the ENERGY STAR Indoor Air Package, homebuyers can address two critical green home elements. Then, look to the wide variety of available green home programs to complete the picture with water-efficient products, renewable energy technologies, waste reduction, recycling, and sustainable land development practices