Robert Wisniewski, senior technical consultant with MaGrann Associates, Mount Laurel, N.J., says that at a minimum, all green homes should be Energy Star-certified and also feature: high-efficiency heating, cooling and lighting; proper mechanical air ventilation coupled with nontoxic finishes and furnishings for improved indoor air quality; water-saving, high-efficiency fixtures and appliances; building products and finish materials that contain recycled content and/or are locally available to help reduce the impact of transportation and environmental degradation.
"The building shell, including insulation and windows, should be top priority," says Wisniewski
, who adds that energy-efficient home features can save homeowners a minimum of 15 percent on heating and cooling bills.
Above all, says Wisniewski
, a green home should be affordable."To be green doesn't necessarily need to be more expensive," he
says."But as to be expected, there are high-cost and low-cost green buildings."
Beyond the bottom-line price to buy or build one, a green home constitutes a feel-good purchase for the owner, says Wisniewski
"Although a green building is better built and more efficient compared to a conventionally built home, there are key elements of green building that aren't valued in terms of dollars," Wisniewski
When shopping for a builder, look for one that is Energy Star-certified, says Wisniewski
.An Energy Star home meets the guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
, is at least 15 percent more energy efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code and includes additional energy-saving features that typically make it 20- to 30-percent more efficient than a standard home.Wisniewski
says you may also want to choose a builder certified with LEED for Homes, a voluntary rating system that promotes the design and construction of high-performance green homes of which benefits include lower energy and water bills, reduced greenhouse-gas emissions, and less exposure to mold, mildew and other indoor toxins.
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