Q: What are the advantages of building or buying a green home?
A: There are many compelling reasons why families today are considering building or buying a green home.
Personal health is one of the most important advantages of building or buying green. The homes feature better indoor air quality because of tightly sealed ductwork and high-quality filtration systems.
Green homes have less volatile organic compounds and products containing formaldehyde. These chemicals, common in certain paints, carpets, cabinets and millwork, raise health concerns because they produce off-gasses that can contaminate the air in a new home for years after completion.
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If any members of your family have breathing concerns, better indoor air quality is an important reason for building or buying green.
Financial health is another advantage. A home that is built with more insulation, high-efficiency equipment and other sustainable-building features will likely have a higher initial cost. But it can cost less to operate and maintain, which saves money over the long run. They also typically have a higher resale value, and are on the market for less time than a home without green features.
There’s also the benefit to the community, because green homes are green even as they are being built. Much of the job-site waste that would otherwise go to a landfill is recycled on a green construction project, and green building techniques frequently incorporate tree preservation and effective stormwater management to minimize a home’s environmental impact.
If you are building or buying a green home, experts recommend you look for several key components. Make sure windows are triple-pane and insulated to allow for solar gain, and to prevent the heat in your home from escaping during colder months. There should be plenty of insulation in exterior walls, ceilings and below the slab or crawl space.
It’s also important to have an airtight home; more leaks mean more heat loss. Many new green homes use a breathable, waterproof exterior membrane to make the home as airtight as possible.
Airtight homes require proper ventilation to ensure that there is a constant supply of fresh air. Having a heat-recovery ventilation system is an extremely efficient way to keep your fresh air flowing without heat loss.
Choose WaterSense-certified bath fixtures and low-flow toilets, which can save as much as 10,000 gallons of water per year compared to a home with standard flow fixtures.
Homebuyers are encouraged to work with their contractors and real estate agents to identify elements of green living that they find most important, and then create a checklist to follow based on your priorities and budget.
Anthony Maschmedt is the principal and founder of Dwell Development and is a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties’ Remodelers Council. HomeWork is the association’s weekly column about home care, repair and improvements. If you have questions about home improvement, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.