It seems like a funny question, but what we’re asking is: how environmentally friendly do you want your new home to be? With the array of new technology and differing building options available, deciding how “green” you want to be will affect several key factors in your new home. Deciding what your personal green goals are at the start can ensure your home performs the way you envision. Here are five aspects to help you determine just how green your new home should be:
- How green is your builder or contractor?
There are many types of builders available in our area. Some are the “tried and true” kind who have built good homes for many years, but may be reluctant to explore some of the new environmentally friendly options available. Other builders are committed to a rating system or style of building that can save lots of energy, but comes with lifestyle trade-offs and possible increased costs. At Big Twig Homes, we like to take a position somewhere in the middle — relying on good construction craftsmanship while embracing energy efficiency and other green strategies where they make sense.
- What are your goals for your home’s green features?
Each family is unique and has differing goals for the green aspects they want in their new homes. Some family members have respiratory problems, and want to have their home built with low VOC products to elevate indoor air quality. Other home owners are hoping to have some control over fluctuating energy costs by fixing energy investments with solar or geothermal systems. Still others want to have a comfortable home that will maintain its value and provide a healthy return when it’s time to sell. All these goals can be met with a range of green approaches.
- Saving energy is just one facet of a “green” approach to home construction.
Of the many options to building green, energy efficiency is an important component. On the green building spectrum, there are many other factors that can contribute to a home’s impact on the environment. Many folks focus on improving the overall performance of their homes as systems. A home performance perspective will look at the basics— insulation, windows, doors, heating and cooling— plus ensuring the home’s exterior envelope is well sealed, proper home ventilation is installed. Even greener approaches will consider the proximity of the home’s location to amenities, the fuel expended to bring materials to the site, sustainability of materials and construction waste disposal to minimize the total impact on the environment.
- What level of cost versus benefit are you comfortable with?
Like many life decisions, we often need to examine the costs versus the end benefits that any green feature provides. For example, a net zero house that produces enough energy to operate independently is achieved often with an increased investment in super-efficient windows, added insulation, and design changes that may work for some families but not for others. However, simple upgrades like added insulation or considering solar panels on your roof may provide a quick return and incentives that make the investment worthwhile.
- Documenting your new home’s energy rating can increase its value.
There are a whole alphabet soup of options for measuring your home’s efficiency and environmental impact. Some focus on energy efficiency, while others look at a whole array of factors that can vary in home construction. We like to think that one smart investment is to hire an energy rater to work with us from design though to the final details. RESNET is a national organization that helps homeowners understand their home’s efficiency by training certified energy raters. These trained pros can advise on option to improve your home’s efficiency with small changes that have a big impact. You can find an energy rater in your area by using this tool on RESNET.com. Some studies have shown that having a good RESNET score can increase your home’s value by as much as 8%. Plus, energy efficiency tax incentives and rebates can put money back in your pocket.
No matter how green you want your home to be, we’re ready to walk you through the options and determine which green approaches meet your needs and your budget. Give us a call today at 207-576-5500.