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Does it really cost more to build green?

There is a lot of misconception about the cost to build or remodel using green building methods.

Many people looking to build or remodel mistakenly believe an energy efficient home is an unnecessary or unaffordable luxury.

What is a green home? Well for starters, it is no longer a luxury or choice in many areas. It is quickly becoming the building standard not an optional luxury. The 2012 building codes now incorporate many green & energy conserving methods and materials. The IBC (International Building Code), IRC (International Residential Code), IGCC (International Green Construction Code) and IECC (International Energy Conservation Code) are changing the way we build and this trend is not going to change.

The good news is that with proper planning a high performance home does not have to cost more… but will provide a structure that is energy efficient, environmentally friendly and healthier to live in.

There may be certain materials in a green built home that may have a higher price tag, but does not necessarily mean the overall cost will be more?

There are many components of a green home. A very important part of green building is proper planning and coordination of your project. This planning starts well before any work starts and it must involve everyone associated with project from the owner, designer or architect, contractor and subcontractors. Everyone must know the goals of project up front. This is where the typical green project begins. The key is to have a knowledgeable green construction manager /builder overseeing the project.

Keep in mind there is a big difference between upfront cost and life-cycle cost. A typical green project may have a slightly higher initial price tag in some cases, but the overall operating cost will always be much less. If this is a financed project as most are, the monthly cash outlay including mortgage and operating cost will usually be less. You may pay more for capital, but you will pay much less for energy, which continues to rise in cost, and will continue to rise in the future.

Green built homes appreciate quicker and are more valuable in several areas than their conventional counterparts. Appraisers and Realtors also now incorporate green features into the value of a home. Green mortgages are also on the rise.

Another characteristic of a properly built green home is that it is healthier, because the IAQ (indoor air quality) is one of the most important features of a green home. Careful consideration must be given to proper ventilation and sealing, not to mention the types of materials used in construction of your home.

Now with that said, many are trying to capitalize on the rising interest in green building methods and are using the Green title in everything for promotional purposes, but that does not necessarily make it green, energy efficient or healthier. Make sure you are getting the real thing. Here are the basics of a green home.

  1. You must reduce the heating and cooling loads on the structure by super sealing and super insulating. In other words, it must be super tight. It is imperative that the proper air and vapor barriers are used and installed properly, this is not as easy as many think. Properly sealing and insulating you home is much more than R-values.
  2. Use the most efficient form of heating and cooling equipment. It takes very little to heat and cool a high performance house.
  3. IAQ (Indoor Air Quality)… A green built home is properly ventilated. There is no such thing as a house built to tight; but there are houses that are not properly ventilated.

These are the basics of a green built home, but success is dependent on proper planning, material and methods and to make things even more complicated, there is more than one way to get there.

Here are a few common characteristics of a green built or renovated home:

· Advanced Framing Methods used to allow for less waste and a better-insulated structure.

· Renewable hard surface flooring or green label carpet

· High Efficiency Windows & Doors

· Building Envelope sealed to LEED or Energy Star Standards (new codes require this)

· Use of mechanical ventilation (ERV or HRV)

· Continuous Exterior Insulation to eliminate thermal bridging

· All ductwork and HVAC system in a conditioned space

· Unvented conditioned crawl space and attic

· VOC free paint

· Formaldehyde free glues in cabinets and countertops

· Use of Closed Cell SPF

This is certainly not a complete list, nor does everything on the above list have to be included to be energy efficient, but three basics above must be achieved to be a green home.

Did you know that 90% of people surveyed in 2006 by the AIA said they were willing to pay more for a green built home?

Green is no longer an option, it is not a fad, it is the future of building.

For more in depth green building information visit

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