Well, after a couple of month of non stop activities I found time to get the blog up and running. I am very excited about having the opportunity to share with everyone our company’s experiences ( www.imeryandcompany.com)  in building the first two EarthCraft Platinum Level Houses in Athens, and  serving as third party raters or certifiers of different green building programs and home energy audits.

After being involve with this “green wave” for over three years, I feel that the best way to start is to introduce you to the most popular Green Building Programs available in my area.  I have found that there is a lot of confusion and distortion on what people think these green building programs are, how they work and and finally their implementation. So, to start:

ENERGY STAR:  Is a Government-backed symbol for energy efficiency. Identifies new homes, buildings, and products that are energy efficient and offer the features, quality, and performance that today’s consumers expect. To earn ENERGY STAR®, a home must meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. EPA. Homes are at least 15% more energy efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code, and include additional energy-saving features that typically make them 20–30% more efficient than standard homes

  • Benefits:  New homes are certified to meet EPA’s guidelines for energy efficiency. Performance is verified by an independent third party such as our company. Homes use less energy for heating, cooling, and hot water heating. Homeowners can expect to save about $200–$400 annually on their utility bills. This homes keep out excessive heat, cold, and noise, and ensure consistent temperatures between and across rooms-making these homes more comfortable to live in.  By purchasing an ENERGY STAR qualified new home, you are helping our nation reduce our energy needs and building a cleaner environment for the future.
  • Features:Effective Insulation — properly installed insulation helps achieve even temperatures throughout the house. High-Performance Windows — advanced window coatings help keep heat in during winter and out during summer. Tight Construction and Tight Ducts —by sealing all holes, cracks, and seams in ducts and construction assemblies helps eliminate drafts, moisture, dust, pests, and pollen. Energy-Efficient Heating and Cooling Equipment — more efficient and properly sized heating and cooling systems.

End result is a home that has lower utility costs, is quieter, more comfortable,  and with better indoor air quality than a typical home.

In a nutshell the ENERGY STAR program focuses on having an airtight home and duct system, and implementing proper construction techniques to reduce energy consumption by minimizing air leaks and using more efficient systems and components. Then, you move to programs that look beyond energy efficiency of a home and considers other factors such as site planning, lighting, designs, waste management, indoor air quality, water consumption, home buyers educations, and kind of building materials used for the construction of the home.

These other programs are the EarthCraft House (www.earthcrafthouse.com/)  & LEED for Homes http://www.usgbc.org/DisplayPage.aspx?CMSPageID=147 )

EARTHCRAFT HOUSE: Is a green building program that helps construct healthy, comfortable homes that reduce utility bills and protect the environment. Is a partnership between the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association, Southface Energy Institute, the government and industry partners. The aim of the program is to help home builders be leaders in smart growth management and environmental stewardship.

  • Benefits for Builder: Reduce the number of callbacks because comfort or moisture problems can be eliminated with a systems approach to home building. Product differentiation shows home buyers that your company is dedicated to quality & sustainable construction. Increasing profits and enabling potential home buyers to access special mortgage products due to true cost of ownership. Is a systems approach to home building which results in a comfortable home that performs better without costing much more to build
  • Benefits for Homeonwer: Home is more energy efficient, durable, healthier and comfortable than other homes just built to code .“True Cost of Home Ownership” is reduced. –Lower monthly mortgage, gas and electric bills, water and sewer, maintenance and repair, and in many cases, doctor’s bills for health problems related to poor indoor air quality. Can Qualify for special energy efficiency lending programs.

LEED for Homes: A LEED-certified home is designed and constructed in accordance with the rigorous guidelines of the LEED for Homes green building certification program. LEED for Homes is a consensus-developed, third party-verified, voluntary rating system which promotes the design and construction of high-performance green homes. This program is administer by the U.S Green Building Council.

Now, which program is right for? Well it depends on who you are. If you are a builder and you are planning on jumping into the “green wave” my recommendation is to first start with the Energy Star program, and them, when you get familiar with the requirements and construction practices consider either the EarthCraft House or LEED for home. I favor EarthCraft House since this program was developed first for residential construction and then has grown into commercial stuff. LEED was developed first on the other end of the building spectrum, in other words first on the commercial/institutional arena and then have moved down the spectrum to residential. However is up to you…

If you are someone looking into buying a house or building one, I definitely recommend you  look for homes with any of the certification mentioned above because it’s a symbol of quality, and that the builder went beyond current codes requirements while building the house and had it third party verified  adding an extra layer of quality assurance during the construction process. So look for a home that has the certification labels. These labels can typically be found in the electrical panel… If you are planning on building your house then I recommend you look for the green builders in your area. You can do this by going to the  different program administrator’s website and find a builder who is a partner to the program.

I think this is all for today, in my next post I will dive into the construction aspect of the two EarthCraft House that our company is building in Athens, GA