Did you know that nearly 40% of home buyers consider energy-efficient features to be “very important”? A 2012 study also found that green certified homes – with labels such as Energy Star or GreenPoint Rated – sold for up to 9% more than homes without a green label. *
Green building, also known as high-performance building or sustainable construction, has been practiced by builders and remodelers for centuries but the modern era of sustainable construction started in the 1970’s as oil prices rose and the need for energy efficiency increased.
New high-performance homes are designed and built to incorporate environmental considerations and resource efficiency to minimize the home’s environmental impact. Green building is in response to a variety of issues that affect all of us — like increasing energy prices, water resources and changing weather patterns.
Choosing green means making intentional decisions about:
Energy-efficiency improvements such as a high-performance building envelope, efficient HVAC systems, high-performance windows and energy-efficient appliances and lighting
Water conservation measures such as water-efficient appliances and fixtures, filtration systems and drought-resistant or low-maintenance landscaping
Resource conservation using materials and techniques such as engineered wood and wood alternatives, recycled building materials, sustainably harvested lumber and more durable products
Indoor environmental quality such as effective HVAC equipment, formaldehyde-free finishes, low-allergen materials, and products with minimum off-gassing or low volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
Not in the market for a new green certified home? Here are some quick tips to make your home more eco-friendly.
Turn off the lights when not needed, even as you go from room to room in the course of your day (or evening). According to ENERGY STAR, as much as 20 percent of a home’s energy use comes from light bulbs. Using a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) requires about 75 percent less energy than incandescent, but lights that are turned off save the most energy of all.
Wash clothes in cold water. According to the US Department of Energy, a washing machine uses up to 90 percent of its energy to simply heat the water in a laundry load, and the higher the temperature, the greater the cost to you and the environment. Not only will cold water will save energy but it will make your clothes last longer.
Clean the lint filter in your gas or electric clothes dryer. Tests have shown that keeping the lint trap clean may provide savings of up to $34 in energy costs each year (ENERGY STAR).
Give up cleaning products for plain old hot water and white vinegar – the ultimate green living product. If you need something more powerful, most stores now carry lines of easily identifiable environmentally friendly cleaning products that are less toxic and come in recyclable packaging.
Ready to remodel or update your home? Three things to think about…
Ask for ‘reclaimed wood’ in new flooring or furniture. Reclaimed and recycled wood from salvaged timbers found in old barns, homes, bridges and even sunk at the bottom of our creeks and rivers can also be used to reduce chemically treated wood for floors, furniture and construction supports.
Use low VOC paint available at all major paint suppliers. Why use low VOC paint? Typical household paint contains up to 10,000 chemicals, of which 300 are known toxins and 150 have been linked to cancer**. Some of the most harmful chemicals found in paint are volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. These chemicals aren’t something you want to spray on your body or potentially even keep inside your house.
Buy products that have the ENERGY STAR label. Products earn these labels by meeting the energy efficiency requirements set forth by ENERGY STAR product specifications established by the EPA. These products include: building products, electronics, office equipment, appliances, lighting and fans, heating and cooling, water heaters and other products such as pool pumps.