What is green building, and what makes a home sustainable?

Posted by on Mar 14, 2013

 By Michele Bond Slaght

“Green building” and “sustainability” are becoming popular terms in the construction industry, but what do they mean? Simply put, “green” and “sustainable” mean that the most environmentally responsible, resource-efficient building processes are used to create new structures from start to finish. Throughout the entire process of design, construction and operation, there is a coordination among the entire team of architects, engineers, builders and client that focuses on producing a structure that environmentally friendly, durable, and comfortable. Green building focuses on the efficient use of natural resources such as water and energy, and in the process reduces waste and pollution.

“Green” building materials are typically from forests that have earned a 3rd-party forest standard recognition for green practices, as well as rapidly renewable plant materials like bamboo and straw, recycled stone, recycled metal and other products that are non-toxic, reusable, renewable, and/or recyclable.  Use of local, renewable materials is preferred in green building to reduce energy expended during transport.

In addition to being constructed in an environmentally-friendly manner, sustainable, green homes are produced to provide greater comfort, well-being and productivity for the occupants. Great attention is paid to providing the most cost-efficient, natural methods of air quality, thermal energy, lighting and overall energy within the home. The overall goal is to build a home that is not only in harmony with the natural resources and features surrounding the site, but also provide lasting, renewable energy within the home.

Sustainable homes also offer significant savings on energy, making them an excellent value. Studies have shown that green homes cost an average of 2% more to build, but may yield savings of up to 10xs as much over the life of the home. In addition, research has shown that over a 20 year time period, green buildings have produced up to $71 per square foot return on investment. Detailed studies on commercial buildings have shown that sustainable, green structures achieve consistently higher sale prices, rents and occupancy rates than buildings that are not built to sustainable standards.

Green building and sustainability standards are regulated by several agencies in the US, including Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Build It Green, Energy Star, Green Globes, The National Association of Homebuilders National Green Building Standard (NAHB NGBS) and the International Green Construction Code (IGCC).  Each agency provides education as well as guidelines and requirements that must be utilized in order for a home to qualify as “sustainable” or “green”.

In the Cleveland area, Sareth Builders specializes in building green, sustainable homes. Sareth Builders is a Certified Green Builder who utilizes the latest recommendations set forth by the NAHB NGBS. Sareth custom homes in Cleveland offer high performance homes that are designed for life. For more information, call 216-338-7882 or log onto www.sarethbuilders.com.