I’m sometimes weary of “green” or “eco-friendly” claims. After all, anyone can say a home (or just about anything) is green. So, it’s good to look out for greenwashing, which occurs when a person or company tries to sell you something that’s promoted as green, but is really just regular brown in a green package. It’s one thing if you buy a laundry detergent that you later discover isn’t really so eco-friendly, but I think houses are a bit too heavy to return! When you’re ready for a green home, you can cover yourself by building a certified green home or purchasing an existing home that’s been certified as green.
In general, certified green homes use less water and energy, and have improved indoor air quality. Plus, green home construction produces less waste. Features that may be part of a green home include better insulation, more efficient windows, solar hot water systems, water-conserving faucets, LED lighting, Energy Star appliances, sustainably sourced wood, water-wise landscaping and more. These features may sometimes add extra cost, but the payoff comes in the form of lower utility bills, and being a good steward of the planet.
Build it Green
More environmentally friendly homes are built today than ever before, so finding an experienced builder shouldn’t be too difficult. The first step is making sure your builder is partnered with a green building certification program. Green building options include Energy Star certification, the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, or the National Green Building Certification from NAHB Research Center, which is part of the National Association of Home Builders. In some cases, you can also receive green certification for remodeling an existing home.
One of the best reasons to have your new home certified green is the peace of mind that comes with an independent, third-party rater doing the certification. In other words, someone is checking up on your builder for you! The programs have strict guidelines for certification, and the end result is money savings and a more eco-friendly home. Green certifications are wonderful, but you can also take it a step further with the Earth Advantage ZERO program, which helps you design your house so that it generates as much energy as it uses over a year.
In addition to the national programs mentioned above, consider various state-level programs for green certification. A perk of the state-level programs, which are usually offered by utility companies, is that you may receive discounts or rebates for energy-efficient appliances or products, or incentives for building or remodeling green.
Buy it Green
Not everyone wants to embark on a green building adventure. And that’s fine since certified green homes go on the market too! Here are some resources for finding that energy-efficient home of your dreams:
- Find a green real estate professional certified by EcoBroker, part of the Association of Energy and Environmental Real Estate Professionals. EcoBroker members can be found throughout the U.S., as well as in Canada, Mexico, Central America, New Zealand and the Caribbean.
- Search the listings available at the green MLS, Listed Green Homes, where you’ll find sustainable homes for sale around the world.
- Check out the available homes that have been certified green by the NAHB Research Center.
Whether you build your own green dream home or search for it with a realtor, have fun! And please check back for tips on what to do with all of those used moving boxes.