how to build a high performance or green home

Building a high performance, green home starts with the right team. If you have not purchased a lot, a realtor who understands green principals will make sure you select the right building site. A green building designer will position your home properly on the site and make sure the design maximizes the use of the available renewable energy. A green general contractor is familiar with the costs associated with a multitude of green building options and what subcontractors and supplies will be needed to meet the performance and budget objectives.

If you hire the right green building team, you don’t have to use a certification program to have a green home; however, if you have plans to sell your home, you may want to use a recognized program.

In the Northwest, there are four prominent programs that can be used to certify a green home.
  • Energy Star Homes is the foundation of energy efficiency for both the Earth Advantage and LEED programs. The focus of this program is on features that improve energy performance, such as windows, appliances and heating systems.
  • Earth Advantage is a regional program that combines energy efficiency features, with healthy indoor air and sustainable building practices.
  • LEED for Homes is a program that was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, that expands on the above programs to include site location, linkages and natural resource management.
  • Living Building Challenge is the most advanced program, it is provided by the International Living Future Institute. The mission of the Living Future Institute is “To encourage the creation of Living Buildings, Sites and Communities in countries around the world while inspiring, educating and motivating a global audience about the need for fundamental and transformative change."

A better performing, green home does not have to be expensive. In fact, if integrated design and building principals are used a better performing home can be built with minimal extra costs. For example, if you purchase the right lot, position the home properly, design it to maximize the use of renewable energy resources, locate the windows and landscaping properly, a home can perform better with minimal extra costs. A better performing home is simply a matter of doing things right.

Do you want a high performance home with a high return-on-investment? Make sure you select the right team.