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123 Jefferson Place
P 404.373.2345
Decatur, Georgia 30030F 404.529.4532
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Home > Services > Green Homes

What are Green Homes?
Generally speaking, a Green home is designed and built to be:

  • Healthy
  • Comfortable
  • Durable
  • Energy Efficient
  • Environmentally Responsible
A common misconception is that all new homes, built to minimum building codes, are high quality and high-performance homes. However, many new homes do not achieve several of the benefits listed above. Green homes are built to substantially exceed the performance levels offered by conventional, code-compliant new homes.

Also, while many new homes may claim to be green, they differ in how thoroughly they achieve the benefits above. In other words, they achieve different degrees of green, depending on the degree to which they deliver these benefits.

Why Green Homes?
Homes have a very significant environmental impact. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, all homes in the U.S. account for:

  • 22% of the total energy consumed
  • 21% of carbon dioxide emissions
Also, certain indoor air pollutants can often be four to five times higher than outdoor levels. Construction and demolition waste (including both residential and commercial buildings) represents 40% of the solid waste in the U.S. Homes also have a significant impact on the amount of water consumed, on the amount of chemicals (e.g., fertilizer, pest control chemicals) that can damage nearby water bodies, and other consequences.

Shifting towards the design and construction of more sustainable homes can have enormous benefits for the environment, as well as for the occupants.

What is LEED for Homes?
LEED for Homes is a voluntary rating system administered by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). USGBC is a non-profit organization that promotes the design and construction of high performance green buildings. To be certified under the LEED for Homes program, a home must:

  • Include several required green measures or "prerequisites" (e.g., achieve energy efficiency at least 15% better than conventional homes)
  • Include many additional green measures. These are chosen by the builder from a variety of optional measures or "credits" to earn points. A project must earn a minimum number of points to achieve certification.
The program includes several additional requirements as well, such as verification by a LEED for Homes Green Rater. The LEED for Homes Green Rater is not associated with the project team (i.e., this person is a third-party) and he/she has training in verifying green homes. In the verification process, the LEED for Homes Green Rater confirms that:
  • All the required green measures are installed in the home (by visual inspection)
  • The performance level of the home meets the program requirements (by physical testing of the home's air leakage, duct leakage, etc.)
For more information on the LEED for Homes program, visit www.usgbc.org/LEED/homes.

Misconceptions about Green Building
For many people, the term "Green building" creates images of ultra-modern houses with solar paneled roofs and lots of technological gadgets. It is common to think that building a new Green home or renovation your old home to be Green is too difficult or costly to even consider. However, most of the design elements that go into a Green home are the same age-old details that buildings have used for centuries to make homes more comfortable and durable.

Considerations like site selection, solar orientation, window size and placement, ambient lighting, ambient airflow, roof shapes, eve overhangs, rainwater management, durable material selections, indoor air quality - the list goes on - are all things that builders and architects have employed to build homes that have lasted 100, 150, 200 years and more. Sadly, many of these simple design principles have been lost in today's standardized floor plans and prefab-construction homes. These types of homes ultimately require more energy and higher utility costs for lighting, heating and cooling, more maintenance and associated costs and less comfort from cold and hot spots and poor air quality.

There is a growing trend toward "net-zero" home energy construction. Net-zero means that a home is able to reduce energy consumption and produce its own energy sufficiently to balance usage of public utilities to a net sum of zero consumption. Unfortunately, at this time, the economic savings associated with net-zero homes typically requires a decade or more of home ownership to recoup the expense. However, the cost associated with common green building practices are typically offset by savings in utility costs or maintenance much sooner. Homeowners save significantly more over the life of a home compared to typical, minimal code compliant residential structures. Only a green building contractor can properly explain these cost trade-offs and help home owners make decisions about what aspects are important and economically practical for each individual or family.