Green Building Myths
Green Building Myths #1
Myth #1 – Green Homes Are Only For Tree Huggers.
Unfortunately, the word “green” carries with it a connotation that most regular everyday folks are scared off by. The environmentalists who are the true believers cannot believe that regular everyday folks would not embrace the cause. In their minds, it is a no brainer.
As a life-long business guy trying to approach green building from the practical side of things, I find myself in constant conflict every time I attend a green event. I hate to say it, but even I am turned off at times by some of the attitudes I run into, and I am a green builder trying to be part of the solution!
At the core of the issue is a group of people who think moderate improvements to around 50% energy savings is not green enough. They seem to think that if you can’t afford to move to zero net energy you should live in an apartment. I am not kidding, these are the types of things that I have heard.
Of course this type of approach will not win over the masses any time soon. Don’t let an extreme environmentalist attitude hijack your opportunity to live in a wonderful quality new green home. Green building IS for everyone. It is within reach for most homebuyers. At Amaris, we build quality green homes that are beautiful and affordable. With an Amaris home, you get a healthier home, a safer home, a more durable home, a more energy efficient home that cost much less to operate AND you can feel good because the home will cut carbon emissions by 50%.
Green Building Myth’s #2
Myth #2 – Green Building is More Expensive
If a builder tells you it cost more, you have the wrong builder!
While it is true that any time you work to improve the quality of a home there is an expense to it, that is not necessarily the case with all green building techniques. We have found that as we work to implement these green building techniques, some of them actually save money.
For instance, we typically look to stack our plumbing (called a compact plumbing design) to reduce the amount of hot water that turns cold in pipes and ultimately gets sent down the sewer. By designing a home in such a way that the plumbing is stacked, you have less materials (piping) and labor to install the same number of bathrooms, kitchen, etc. as you do when the pipes are spread out all over the house. On top of that, you are paying your city for the clean domestic water and then paying them a second time when the clean unused domestic water, which turned cold in the pipes, goes down the sewer drain. Water that is heated and unused in the pipes is a waste of energy too.
Another example is our drawings always include detailed framing plans. I refuse to pay my CAD person any more to supply these sheets. From these sheets we do our own material take-offs, allowing us to calculate the exact number and size of dimensional lumber needed to build the house. We typically order the wood to the site on a floor-by-floor basis and we always order a little short. We explain to the framing sub-contractor that if they run out of wood, they have to pay for it because the proper amount has been supplied. Funny thing, they always manage to make it work with nearly no scrap. The result of this is that we don’t end up with a dumpster full of new dimensional lumber scraps. We save money on the dimensional lumber package AND dumpsters. In fact, we don’t even order out a dumpster until after the framing is done.
These are just a few of the many examples I could share on how to save money implementing green building techniques. What we found is that as we focus on implementing green building we saved money in some places and spent money in others, the result of which is only a slightly more expensive home upfront with money saving benefits down the road.
In all cases we have been able to meet the customer’s budget all while achieving greener homes. The bottom line is that building green doesn’t mean it has to cost more.
Green Building Myth’s #3
Myth #3 – Green Homes Are Less Comfortable
Some people think a green built home is less comfortable and requires sacrifice from the homeowner. That is simply untrue. A green built home is typically MORE comfortable than a home built with the traditional building techniques. There are many reasons for this increased comfort level. One example of this is that planning for natural lighting is a key strategy that is incorporated into a green built home. There is nothing that can make you feel better than having abundant natural light in the key living spaces. Another example is the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. The systems are carefully designed on a room-by-room basis to make sure the temperature is even throughout the entire home. There are no hot and cold spots in summer or winter.
Green built homes encourage smaller carbon footprints, but there is also a lot of attention paid to the livability. How do you use the home as you live in it? Too often new homes have rooms that never get used. A well-designed green built home will have every room used nearly every single day. Spaces are planned for how you live, not a random plan you found on a web site or cookie cutter plan that doesn’t take in to account your family’s lifestyle. Green built homes also have all the same amenities of a traditional home.
Green Building Myth’s #4
Myth #4 – Green Houses Look Weird
About thirty years ago when the energy crisis happened, there were a bunch of new housing technologies experimented with. Universities were suddenly building dome and earth home structures and everyone was told these construction styles were going to be the next big thing. This was not the case at all. There were also systems like double exterior wall designs, SIPP’s and ICF’s that all came to life at this time. None of these ideas ever made it to the mainstream building industry.
There is also a sub-culture of extreme green environmentalists that have proposed houses should be made from things like hay, rubber tires and coke bottles, etc. We find that to be a bit over the top.
Today, this idea of living in a green home is a home that looks exactly like any other. The only difference is that it out performs the homes built using traditional methods.
Green Building Myth’s #5
Myth #5 – Green Building is an all or Nothing Proposition.
Incorporating green features into a new home is a matter of balancing consumer priorities and available budget. Building green starts with building a more energy efficient home which includes upgraded insulation and windows. As a builder committed to green building, we are constantly finding new ways to incorporate green features into our homes with little to no cost to the consumer. If your builder tells you building green is going to cost you significantly more, the builder is either not familiar with green building or has a different “agenda” in mind.