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Clarify green home building myths

One of the most prevalent discouraging myths about building green homes that many developers, builders and homeowners believe is that it is more expensive than traditional building. It might have been true until the past few years, but now green building return on investment is higher and quicker and upfront cost is lower.

Third-party verification for certification may increase the cost, but more real estate agents now recommend it for higher resale value. Also decreased utility bills and maintenance costs and tax incentives for energy efficiency can help offset costs. Even non-profits like Habitat for Humanity look at green construction projects as cost-effective.

Other myths are:

  • financing for green building is much more expensive--when actually green mortgages run between 1 and 3 percent more than traditional building mortgages.
  • green building is just a fad that will not last. As global concern for the environment and impact of building efficiency on climate change increases, green building requirements may become the rule. The "fad" has existed for nearly 70 years but has become a better defined standard in recent years.
  • building green is too complicated and overwhelming. Building green information is available from major expert organizations from the United States Green Building Council to Southface Energy Institute. The first step is deciding the appropriate standards to meet and then selecting the green materials and techniques. There are plenty of informed experienced builders to guide the entire process.
  • building green is simply using materials identified as green. Products are only a part of a home’s greenness. Everything from site selection and house orientation to proper house and energy systems sizing and building envelope are involved in making a home green. Some materials may be green washed meaning they bear a green label or are advertised as green but are not really energy efficient or sustainable.
  • a green home is just concerned with the house. Truly green homes are built in high density green communities near shopping, working and daily living centers that are short or no commutes, with plenty of public transportation, in areas that do the least environmental damage, conserving natural resources, with good local supplies of food, necessities and utilities.
  • permits for green homes get higher priority and faster processing. The process should actually take about the same amount of time but certain green building methods like green modular homes, structured insulated panel (SIP) homes or insulated concrete panel (ICP) homes may be constructed more quickly. Some permitting and inspections may take longer due to unfamiliarity with techniques and materials or the need for structural engineer approval on green home design permits.
  • mega-mansions can be green. The footprint of the home affects its impact on the planet. Larger sizes require more materials and resources plus the energy to keep them lighted, heated and cooled. Some mansions only get green certified through points earned by offsets against damaging the environment.
  • it is better to build a new green home. Frequently existing homes can be retrofitted with green energy efficient materials instead of using all new materials for new construction or tearing down and adding building materials to landfills.

Watch the attached video interview with David Bach who wrote the book Go Green, Live Rich.

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