What Green Building Means

Real Estate Broker/Owner with The Broker Network
This is an interesting article for many reasons but for me it's mainly because we are experiencing a movement to green building. The last few years have really seen a large number of builders specializing in new green building techniques. Please read on to learn a small part of this new conscious movement.

"There's a lot of talk in real estate about green building lately, but the phrase is still a little vague. Here's a guide to understanding a few key terms, so you can investigate whether or not a potential home is truly eco-friendly.

Insulation and Building: Many new buildings are insulated with recycled materials, such as old blue jeans or blown-in fiberglass. Proper insulation now goes a long way toward saving on energy bills later. Walls can be made of steel and concrete, rather than more expensive and volatile treated wood. Many cities have lumber yards and "re-stores" where you can buy recycled or left over building materials that are strong, cheap, and often antique or authentically vintage.

Appliances: Look for low flow showerheads and low flush or composting toilets. Consider energy saving washers and dryers, or put a line in your yard to hang wet clothes on sunny days Make sure your HVAC unit is sealed and clean, and look for gas stoves and instantaneous, or tank-less, water heaters.

Flooring: Rather than use expensive hardwoods that endanger the land and deplete forests, many real estate builders have found inexpensive and beautiful alternatives in bamboo (which is technically not a wood but a grass, and yet one of the hardest and most easily replenished flooring materials) and cork (also easily replenished). Concrete, too, can be a sturdy and inexpensive alternative, as can old-fashioned linoleum, which is actually made from linen and other natural fibers.

Paint and Other Materials: Many paint manufacturers are looking for green alternatives to oil and latex; one such option is the use of milk-based paints (which upon application smell like milk instead of harsh chemicals, and which don't have any carcinogenic ingredients.) Recycled glass is being made into kitchen and bath tiles, and countertops are being made with recycled materials that look even more beautiful and unique than mined granite.

Solar Energy: Solar energy doesn't just mean expensive panels that sit on your roof (though that's one kind, called active solar energy). Considering a solar home can mean investing in thick-paned, glazed windows or in more photovoltaic cells that are complicated. Though solar tends to be an expensive investment, upfront, the rewards show up every month in your energy bills.

Landscaping: Look for Xeriscaped yards and common areas with plants that require little watering. Consider getting rain barrels (many cities sell them through their water and energy programs) or converting your outdoor water system to "graywater" (which involves using recycled water from dishwashers and washing machines to water your lawn or wash your car). Looks for trees, native to your area, and plant them so they shield your windows from too much sun during hotter days.

Neighborhood: While a lot of green building means being aware of what is going into your home, you might also want to check out your neighborhood. Are there recycling programs or community gardens? Public transportation? Bike paths so you can have the option of avoiding traffic? Are there shops and restaurants close to you, to encourage walking? While thinking about these things may seem unimportant now, our global climate and community with thank you later. (Oh, and don't forget the federal tax deductions.)"
by Kimbrough Gray

Comments (2)

Tiffany Wilson
Compass Properties - THE Costa Rica Real Estate Expert - Manhattan Beach, CA
The Costa Rica Real Estate Expert
Great article!  It's funny, because recycling is obviously not a new thing - my parents and grandparents used to recycle everything.  Your ideas would not be unique to them, but they are to us.  I look forward to the day when solar energy is commonplace.
Aug 29, 2007 08:28 AM
Dan Bertucci

You're right, none of this is new but few have kept pace with technology and recomended practices especially in landscaping. You would not believe the waste that someone such as myself becomes aware of concerning impact on enviroment/ lack of concern for water conservation and other things.

Those of us who stay on top of industry terms such as Xeriscape and Water-Smart or GreenScape programs, will be the ones who make their way in this new economy. I can see large lawn areas being removed in the name of long term cost savings because of rising water cost and increasing regulations. Those breaking some of these laws will face harsh penalties. Some of the gated communities are already practicing some of this.

If you need a competent  landscape contractor please give us a shout! Great site and direction John!

Dan Bertucci, Owner Natures Plan LLC, landscape irrigation & Backflow Co

Feb 10, 2011 11:55 AM