Green is on most people's minds theses days, as it should be. Global climate change and the fast depletion of essential natural resources are definitely making headlines. Painfully high energy costs may be in our future.
Residential home building has added to the crises. There are many ways to decrease adding to the problem by building your home as green as possible, known as green building or sustainable building. Building one home consumes a huge amount of natural resources and energy, and there are over one million single family homes built a year.
Green building should and eventually will be a staple when building a home. It is one way to reduce the impact of humankind on the planet.
Green is Growing
The idea of green building is on fire for many reasons:
- Healthier way of living
- More comfortable
- Less expensive to operate
- More durable, so it lasts longer
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) made a prediction that nearly half or more of its members are incorporating green materials into their building projects. Green building is a self-fulfilling prophecy: the more people know about green building and its benefits, the more people will choose to build green homes. From East to West more and more people are asking for green features in their homes.
Green building began in Austin, Texas in 1992 where HomePros is headquartered. In Austin, their green building program won a substantial development award from the United Nation's Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, and that is what put green building on the map. Because of the award won, over the next few year's alternative building techniques such as, adobe construction, rammed earth, and strawbale started popping up everywhere. From that point on it spread to Boulder, Colorado, Atlanta, and Seattle. Green building programs are now being launched everywhere. Boulder, Colorado was the first city to make sustainable building part of its city code.
When something like green grows so quickly it is important to get a hold of it and establish common ground and standards. Because many local programs were establishing green building programs it was important to set in stone the proper definition of green building. The NAHB did a wonderful job at setting the standards. They published a set of guidelines for people to follow. For example the Energy Star program can be found in these guidelines. The Energy Star program includes indoor air quality for energy saving. Also, MASCO, a large conglomerate of building product manufacturers, has its Energy For Living (EFL) program. This program certifies builders at progressive levels of home performance.
In the year 2000 the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program (LEED) released a set of specific, measurable building standards developed by the U.S. Green Building Council for commercial construction. In 2006 it had grown to a pilot program called LEED for Homes. Today LEED is the only national green building program that has the exact requirements for earning green status.
Outside of all the guidelines and standards there is definitely one unarguable common ground and goal: Energy and resource conservation and indoor air quality are definitely areas that need some love and attention. Working together to establish guidelines to building green will only make sustainable building more readily available and easier to obtain. Sustainable and green building is a wonderful, practical response to many issues that surround and affect us all. GO GREEN!