Archive for May 2011
Last time we learned that the “energy” from natural resources required to run a home are not the only natural resources involved in the production and operation of a new home. We also learned that LEED certification is a way to measure how green a home is by documenting how each of those natural resources is more efficiently used when compared to a non-green home, or even another less green home.
So what are those other resources? Well LEED has 8 separate measurements in defining a green home. Of course we’re already familiar with the first and largest component which is “Energy”. The others are; Innovation and Design Process, Sustainable Sites, Locations and Linkages, Water Efficiency, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and finally Awareness and Education.
Now at first glance you’re probably asking “how the heck does Innovation and Design Process make a home greener or use natural resources more efficiently?”. Well that’s why I’m here…. To be the answer man. Let me go back and remind you that way back in Blog #1, I defined “green” as any effort and any strategy taken to reduce the DEMAND of natural resources. Any effort. Any strategy. Any natural resource. Reduce demand of natural resources and you’re being green. Period.
I also said that being green is a great short term strategy for Mother Earth, but it still won’t solve the problem. More people means more demand no matter how green everyone is being and eventually we still run out. Mother Nature isn’t making any more natural resources, so supply is limited. We keep making people, so demand grows. Eventually those lines will cross on the graph of bad news.
Whoops… now I’m backtracking.
The point I was going to try and make was that when you’re talking about Green Homebuilding, its not always obvious how certain practices or strategies can be considered green. Especially as it relates to how LEED scores and certifies projects. And that’s actually why I started this blog. So when you hear some news story or some builder claiming to be doing something green you’ll have a reference point from which to challenge them and decide if its true …or if its hype.
But now my rambling has left me no more room for this excerpt.
Until next time
So last time we talked about Sustainability.
If the energy required to operate the homes in our neighborhoods actually came from our neighborhoods, then we can call those neighborhoods “Sustainable”. They “sustain” themselves without the use of any “natural resource produced energy” to operate.
But is the energy to operate the homes we live in the only aspect of homebuilding that requires the use of natural resources? And therefore the only way we define whether or not a home is “Sustainable” or “Green”.
Of course the answer is no. In fact there are several natural resources used not only in the production and operation of homes and neighborhoods but also used as an indirect result of WHERE homes and neighborhoods are produced.
Gee, what we need is a way to measure how “Green” a home is and use that standard of measurement as a means of letting the public know which homes are green. It turns out we do! Its called LEED certification. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It’s a point system that encourages the production of “Green” homes by awarding different certification levels. The levels are basic LEED certification, LEED silver, LEED Gold, and LEED Platinum. Obviously the higher the certification level, the “Greener” the home.
There are two reasons a homebuilder would seek LEED certification. First, it’s the right thing to do. I know that sounds pretty new-agey. But we can’t keep building homes/neighborhoods/cities the way we always have. It’s not only irresponsible but it’s about as shortsighted and selfish as it gets. It unnecessarily wastes future natural resources for present economic gain. That’s just wrong. Secondly, and as I said earlier, it lets the general public know that the home they’re purchasing is green. For the same reason homebuilders need to stop building homes that aren’t green, the public needs to stop buying homes that aren’t green. It’s just wrong and it will get more wrong as time goes on and the battle of demand of natural resources versus the supply will inevitably push the equilibrium price of all natural resources beyond what anyone can afford to pay. Until they’re gone….and unavailable at any price.
That’s why the future of homebuilding is through green building practices with the ultimate goal of producing net zero energy homes that are 100% sustainable.
The first one to figure it out wins. And that’s my goal.
Next time we’ll talk about those other aspects that make a home green