It seems like everywhere you turn – people are talking about building or remodeling green. Well what is it exactly?
The truth of the matter is that building “Green” is simply a marketing term used to denote that a house has been built or remodeled using earth friendly ideas & principles. There are numerous organizations that have there own version of exactly what “Green” is, and rating systems for how “Green” a product / building is. These organizations generally create their own “Green Building Guidelines.” Almost all the guidelines cover the following topics; energy efficiency, water and resource conservation, use of sustainable or recycled products, & indoor air quality. I have listed some of the top organizations at the end of this article.
The market for “Green” materials & builders is huge. In this article from AARP they estimate that there are 40 million “Green Boomers” out of the 70 million individuals born before 1964. This has pushed many companies to jump on this trend, like the low-fat craze, low-sugar craze, etc… Some companies are legitimate while others simply wish to appear to be considered “Green” builders or supply “Green” materials.
The principles of building or buying “Green” is sound and the market has pushed many companies to change the way they do business or make products. Many paint companies have reduced their use of VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) which helps those with breathing problems. Homes are now being built with better insulation & many other products which help in saving electricity, water, and money. Many builders, specialty deconstruction companies, along with the help of recycling companies can now reduce, reuse, or recycle the bulk of the materials that end up in land fills. These are just a few examples of practices that were brought more into the main stream of thinking due to the “Green” movement.
The Bad (aka Green-Washing)
“Green-Washing” is a term coined for those that wish to appear to be “Green” while making very minimal changes. One example is a builder that does not change any processes, or the way they build. However, to appear to be a green energy efficient builder they simply decide to install fluorescent light bulbs & market themselves as green builders. Another example for materials is a company that simply changes it labeling – adding leaves to its paint cans, etc…
Who do you believe? What really works? How much will it cost? These issues are discussed more in depth in the next article on Common Sense & Green Building Principles.
Some of the existing standards & organizations
ENERGY STAR® – Government program – Energy Efficiency
Building America Program – Government program – Energy Efficiency
NARI Green – Private – Residential Remodeling
National Association of Home Builders – Private – New Home Builders
US Green Building Council (LEED) – Private – Commercial Buildings
American Lung Association Health House – Private – Indoor Air Quality