'Green' homeownership about lifestyle as much as build standards
BY PHIL MULKINS World Action Line Editor
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
10/19/11 at 3:25 AM
"It ain't easy goin' green," Kermit the Frog would say about the latest green building techniques detailed in the International Code Council's 700 National Green Building Standard. But it's easier than he might think.
The National Association of Home Builders has developed a website (tulsaworld.com/NAHBgreen ) for homebuyers interested in green building to explain the concepts of what makes a home legitimately "green," said Kevin Morrow, MBA, Certified Green Professional and senior program manager of Green Building Programs for NAHB in Washington, D.C.
Think green: Think of your home as a system. Good insulation and air sealing can lead to better energy efficiency but can have adverse affects on indoor air quality, so the home's ventilation is important, too. The materials used to build your home can affect its environmental impact. Talk to the experts at your local home builders association.
Green professionals: Two titles for green building certification are Certified Green Professionals and Master Certified Green Professionals (tulsaworld.com/CertifiedGreen ) who can guide you through the building and remodeling process and help you make thoughtful green decisions.
Build green: Homebuyers go green primarily to save money on their utility bills. That doesn't have to mean expensive alternative energy sources like solar panels or wind turbines. Advanced technologies are exciting, but paying close attention to air sealing, using the right amount of insulation and keeping good ventilation in mind are great ways to gain efficiency. Green building is also careful building.
Live green: NAHBGreen is designed to help buyers get the full benefit of a greener home. When buying or renovating a home, consider projects designed and built to a credible standard like the International Code Council's 700 National Green Building Standard (tulsaworld.com/NGBS ). Using the standard and a certified, trusted, third party such as a builder certified by the NAHB Research Center (tulsaworld.com/GreenResearchCenter ) is the greenest way to go. Learn to properly operate and maintain your green home for optimum performance into the future.
What is a "green home": The home is positioned to take advantage of heat and light from the sun. Natural site features are preserved and protected when possible. Energy efficiency is important: appliances, insulation, doors, windows, heating and air-conditioning, and design work together for energy conservation and reduced utility bills. Water heaters, toilets, faucets and drought-tolerant plants conserve water inside and out.
Resource efficiency: Materials are selected for durability, origin and recycled content, and waste-management strategies reduce the environmental impact of the home's construction.
Indoor environmental quality: Appropriate ventilation techniques, along with paints, sealants and adhesives made without harmful compounds such as formaldehyde improve a home's indoor environment for the entire family.
'Passive House' creates air-tight efficiency
As more homes are designed for high energy performance amid the Department of Energy's Builders Challenge (tulsaworld.com/DOEBuildersChallenge ), Europe's Passive House Standard is gaining ground with North American designers.
The most aggressive building standard - the Passive House standard - focuses strictly on ensuring energy efficiency and comfort through extremely well-insulated and virtually air-tight buildings heated primarily by passive solar and internal gains, with minimal or no active heating. Mechanical ventilation provides fresh air, including heat recovery.
"Passive House" comes from the German "Passivhaus," referring to buildings meeting the high standard for energy efficiency set by Passivhaus Institute in Darmstadt, Germany (tulsaworld.com/PassiveHouse ). The institute opened in 1996 after a small 1970s movement created super-insulated buildings in America and Europe; 20,000 European buildings meet the standard.
Criteria are rigorous. Buildings must use 90 percent less heating and cooling energy than common structures. The initial challenge comes from translating a European standard to the North American market. The Passive House standard, though very ambitious, is based on whole-building performance and is flexible enough to work for North American homes using North American building products and materials.
The stringent Passive House criteria limit air leakage and energy use relative to floor area, and its standards require minimal space conditioning loads. Where other approaches minimize net energy use through on-site renewable energy, the Passive House standard focuses almost entirely on envelope and HVAC.
Super-efficient construction comes at a cost. Although no-cost and low-cost options such as beneficial orientation and shading conditions can help, most climates require that a Passive House be built from the best building components available. Installation practices need to be outstanding, as well. This cannot be achieved at low cost, but in many cases may be economically viable through long-term energy cost savings.
Original Print Headline: 'Green' home is about lifestyle
Tulsa World consumer writer Phil Mulkins wants to know which topics interest you. Call 918-699-8888, email your suggestion to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail it to Tulsa World Consumer, P.O. Box 1770, Tulsa, OK 74102-1770.
A contractor works on a roof of a home. Homeowners trying to "go green" must build smarter, but they also need to adopt a philosophy of reducing environmental impact. KAVE KETTERING / Associated Press
Kermit the Frog is a "green" professional. Courtesy