“Building Green” suggests the use of energy efficient materials such as insulation, Energy Star appliances, renewable and sustainable materials such as bamboo flooring, recycled glass counter tops and low volatile organic compound (VOC) paint. However, many builders that offer “Green Built” homes do not take into account smart growth. Some developers construct so-called green residences upward of 4200 square feet without recognizing the impact that homes of these sizes have on the environment. The attributes mentioned above, in addition to insulation and efficiencies, remain essential to reducing energy consumption, but large homes tend to consume more energy. Furthermore, these structures are further apart, which requires greater travel time, resulting in increased fuel consumption. If these homes had smaller footprints, were located closer to city centers and other job opportunities, then the benefits would be even greater. As BuiltGreen.org – a Colorado based organization – mentions, there are several benefits to “Green Built” homes.
According to their website, some of the most compelling are:
- Better energy efficiency means comfort and savings for the homeowner and less pollution for the earth.
- Healthier indoor air means comfort, health and peace of mind for the family.
- Reduced water usage means savings for the homeowner, less strain on our limited water supplies.
- Preserving natural resources means leaving more for future generations to enjoy.
- Durable materials means reduced maintenance, savings and more leisure time for the home owner.
While these homes are a definite improvement, there needs to be a further progress in urban planning. Transportation needs to be a major focal point in these designs. As seen in the diagram below from the Energy Information Agency, transportation is responsible for approximately 28% of greenhouse gas emissions. It is necessary to address these issues, much like the US Green Building Council has done with their LEED certification for homes guidelines.
- Eric Wilson