Green building checklist
The precise definition of a “green” home is still somewhat of a moving target. Broad arrays of programs, rating systems and laws have been created to provide consistency & structure to the movement, all the while causing spirited debate nationwide.
Although the definition and its certification are still evolving, there are green building fundamentals that remain true to its core regardless of the state you live in, program you certify under, or products you incorporate into the project.
These green building basics require a holistic, building science approach, and are interdependent for optimal efficiency. To ignore one part (i.e. indoor air quality implications upon increasing the air tightness of a building’s envelope) can have grave consequences for the building’s overall performance.
In the coming weeks we will look at each of these elements individually and follow their implementation in real world case studies. For now, I will leave you with a checklist of what we feel are the fundamentals to green building, along with a brief definition of each element:
- Optimize Site Potential: proper site selection, consideration of existing resources & structures, orientation for passive & active solar features, location’s proximity to public transportation & other resources, minimize site disturbance.
- Energy Conservation: reduce overall energy loads through careful design, insulation, efficient equipment & careful detailing of envelope, limiting amount of fossil fuels required, incorporation of renewable energy & green power options.
- Water Conservation: reducing & controlling site runoff, design & incorporate water conservation both inside & outside the structure, minimize water requirements in landscaping
- Environmentally Preferred Products: products that are salvaged, made with recycled content, conserve natural resources, reduce overall material use, are durable & low maintenance, naturally or minimally processed, save energy and/or water, reduce pollution & waste and contribute to a healthy indoor living environment.
- Indoor Air Quality: provide an indoor environment that has excellent acoustical, thermal and visual qualities that have a positive impact on health, comfort & productivity. Attributes to consider are maximizing daylight, appropriate ventilation and moisture control, and the use of low or no VOC products.
- Durability/Life-Cycle Analysis: materials and systems that simplify and reduce operational requirements, require fewer resources to maintain, are cost-effective and reduce life-cycle costs.
- Occupant Education: empowering occupants with the appropriate information in order to achieve optimal performance & enjoyment of their buildings, and resourcing them with the tools to do so.
Heather Ferrier Laminack Representing the fourth generation of the Ferrier Companies, Heather Ferrier Laminack functions as the marketing manager for Texas-based green home builder Ferrier Custom Homes, utilizing her passion for sustainable building practices and her first-hand experience of green building techniques.