How To Build A Green Home

Consider this a step-by-step guide to creating your ideal green home. Or consider this useful information to share with others on how to make an existing home more energy-efficient. Either way, HomeEnergyNC offers these guidelines as you strive for the optimal green home.

Creating An Idea

 

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How does a homeowner or builder decide to build a green home?

What does a “green house” mean to a homeowner?

Which resources does a homeowner need to make a decision and how can they be found (architect, builder, financing, etc.)?

Validate/Define the Plans

 

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How does the homeowner or the builder create the “scope of work” or definition for the plan?

What green features can the budget, homeowner or builder afford?

Which desired green features are possible?

What resources are available to help answer these questions?

Secure Financing

 

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Green homes generally cost more to build, but will have lower operating costs.  Can the homeowner afford the extra costs?

Because of the lower operating costs, some lenders will provide a discounted interest rate for a green home. How is that connection made?

What kind of rebates or incentives are available to the homeowner or builder for constructing a green home? How do they find out about them?

Recruit Your Teamrsz_team

Now it’s time to hire the necessary architects, builders and consultants to turn your dream home into a reality!

In order to receive all of the green home benefits – lower interest rates, lower operating costs, improved health and safety, etc. – there are a lot of stakeholders that need to be aware of the “green goals” and how to deliver them.

How does a homeowner or a builder find the team needed to accomplish these goals?

Design

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A homeowner should consider about 20 different certifications and their benefits for various types of green homes available.

Is an architect needed in order to complete the design?

Can the builders perform the necessary design and do they have the materials needed to complete the job?

Which building and energy certifications (LEED, ENERGY STAR, etc.) are required in the design?  Are any of them voluntary? 

Source the Materials

Thinking

Make sure to work with the building team to ensure that tasks and materials are properly delegated.

How much influence does the homeowner or builder have over the materials selected for the green home?

What is the impact on the final product if the materials necessary for certification are not available or possible to include?

Start Building!

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Time to get building! Make sure that construction is meeting certification requirements, most of which involve third-party verification and inspections (HERS Rater, Green Verifier, etc.). 

These third parties should work closely with everybody involved in the building process to ensure that green features, measures and products are incorporated properly.

Be the Commissioner

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A green home isn’t truly green unless all systems are operating effectively, so the home needs to be commissioned properly.

 Commissioning involves testing the HVAC system and other components of the home.

These activities help ensure that a green home is performing  optimally in terms of energy-efficiency, sustainability and comfortability.

Certify/Verify

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Carry out independent third party certification in order to meet program requirements and possibly obtain incentives.

This verification is in addition to the work of building code officials, who will test and inspect a home for compliance to building and energy code.

Rebates/Incentives

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Consideration for which incentives to pursue and the requirements needed in order to meet them should be considered in the design phase.

Once the home is close to being complete, reviews should be performed to ensure that the homeowner will receive the targeted incentives.

Once completed, the homeowner and builder may be required to complete paperwork, inspections and/or submittals to ensure that the incentive program requirements are properly met.

Occupy

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Upon moving in, a homeowner should know how to manage and maintain the green home.

Maintaining the green home includes simple procedures such as changing HVAC filters, monitoring moisture and humidity controls and checking for mechanical abnormalities among other methods (see below).

Homeowners should also know how to identify performance issues through monitoring electricity, gas (if applicable) and water usage.