Part of caring for oneself is making sure your environment is conducive to a healthy body and mind. And just as you educate yourself about how to care for your body, you must also become aware of the factors in your home that effect your health and the world around you. Having a green home is more than just adding green elements, it is about approaching the home as a system in itself that works as one to give you greater comfort, health and money savings.
It might surprise you, but the biggest producer of greenhouse emissions is not cars, but buildings. According to the EPA, US residential buildings alone account for 21% of our total energy use, 37% of total electricity consumption, 9.7% of water consumption and 21% of the carbon dioxide or greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions. Indoor air pollution is 2-5 times worse than outside and we spend over 90% of our time indoors. 15% of people are allergic to elements in their own homes, asthma has doubled since 1976, and 40% of children will develop some form of respiratory disease. Green upgrades to existing homes are the best ways to create healthier surroundings.
What does it mean to have a green home
? Itâ€™s more than just solar panels. Today we look at the house-as-a-system
approach based on building science. It takes all of the elements working together to create a healthier environment. A true green home will be more comfortable, healthier, safer, and less expensive to operate while consuming less energy and water. It should be more durable and easier to maintain using resource efficient techniques and local materials that are designed to last. All of these systems work together creating energy efficiency, better indoor air quality, water conservation, resource conservation and benefits to the community as a whole.
For example a green home might include some or more of the following features:
- Â Energy Star appliances
- Â Efficient duel-pane windows
- Â Extra insulation
- Â Paperless drywall
- Â Solar electricity
- Â High-efficiency HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning)
- Â â€œFresh-air exchangeâ€ system that prevents stale air from being kept inside the house
- Â Drought-friendly landscaping and regionally native plants
- Â Tank-less or solar water heaters
- Â Water-saving faucets
- Â Duel flush toilets
How do you choose the elements are needed for your specific home and your specific goals? One must first create a blueprint that defines the current systems, evaluates the needs, outlines the best courses of action, and measures the outcomes. This is why there are systems available to rate the â€œgreenâ€ factors within a home. Auditors and contractors have specific and measured ways to accomplish green home objectives and measure the results. Most of the financial incentives available are tied to these measurable benefits of the upgrades proposed. That is why they usually require a base evaluation, or test-in, that outlines the current operating costs and condition of the home and assists owners in prioritizing cost-effective improvement options. Many incentives also require work to be done by a pre-screened contractor as well as a test-out evaluation to compare the effectiveness of the upgrades.
Studies has shown that certified green homes
sell faster and for more money. By having your home professionally rated or audited you can market as green and rest easy knowing that the upgrades that you have performed are the most productive for your green goals. When buying a certified green home, buyers have more confidence in their purchase, are more likely to pay a premium price and have a better chance of finding financing to make green improvements.
Here, weâ€™ll break down some of the different green home certifications so you know what to look for when creating your green home. Although the standards for each certification are different, the intentions are the sameâ€”to create a system with which to officially certify green homes, evaluating need and recommending improvements.Â
Most green rating systems evaluate on the following aspects:
- Â Energy efficiency
- Â Indoor air quality
- Â Water conservation
- Â Resource conservation
- Â Benefits to the community as a whole
is a system developed by Build It Green
to evaluate and certify green homes in California. The GreenPoint Rated system assesses homes on the five above principles. GreenPoint Rated Existing Home
gives current homeowners the chance to make improvements and eco-conscious changes to their homes in order to receive an official â€œgreenâ€ certification. Depending on a home's current energy performance and the extent of green home improvements, it will either receive an Elements
or Whole House
consumer label. This is a lighter rating to receive a green certificate and qualify for Los Angeles rebates.
Home Energy Rating System (HERS II)
is a process of administering diagnostic analysis to determine and produce data for California state approved home energy efficiency ratings. The goal of the program is to create a consistent, accurate, and uniform rating system based on a single statewide rating scale that can serve to differentiate the energy efficiency levels between California homes and to prioritize investment in cost-effective home energy efficiency measures. This establishes a benchmark of a home's energy use and identifies necessary and/or best possible upgrades for homeowners. A HERS II energy audit is important before the close of escrow with and Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM)
or to receive certain state sponsored rebates. Your property will receive a certificate and an actual score.
The 2009 update of the HERS regulations also established a special designation that goes along with the California Whole-House Home Energy Rating
program called the HERS Building Performance Contractor.
A HERS Building Performance Contractor includes a contractor who is licensed by the California Contractors State License Board as a Class B General Building Contractor and who are themselves, or who employ, a person certified as a California Whole-House Home Energy Rater who has successfully completed an Energy Commission-approved HERS Building Performance Contractor
training program and who holds building science certifications from the Building Performance Institute (BPI)
. A HERS Building Performance Contractor evaluates the comfort and safety aspects of a home in conjunction with the home's energy efficiency in order to make and implement recommendations that will result in the best possible performance of a home for the occupant of that home.
Building Performance Institute (BPI)
is a national standards development organization for residential energy efficiency and weatherization retrofit work. As an independent, not-for-profit organization, they develop standards using consensus-based methodology. Taking a holistic view, they ensure that all styles and ages of dwelling are included, and all climate zones are covered. BPI functions as a vital connection between companies, contractors and training organizations to develop a unified technology road map and tackles any impasses along the way. This is the most in depth certification that includes a combustion safety test.
Getting a green label on your home proves that your upgrades have been completed to a set standard. As a third party has verified and prioritized your modifications, quality and confidence can be measured. This will set your project above other properties that may claim to be green but only offer green elements. It will allow you to make the most of the extensive rebates and incentives offered and offer quality assurance.
To learn more about about incentives and financing options contact email@example.com
as we will be holding a workshop at the end of March in an actual property to look options for creating a green home and how to use green financing options to create your perfect green home.
For further information on rebates, incentives or further study on green issues: