Proud Green Home of St. Louis: Green Building Checklist
As with traditional construction practices, setting expectations is a large part of the home planning and construction process when building green. It is difficult to determine if you have achieved those expectations without defining and documenting them ahead of time.
Most homeowners and construction clients have some idea of what “building green” means, but few know how all encompassing it is or, for that matter, how important it is to get it right. Using the proper green building processes and materials assures that in the end the health, comfort and performance levels we expect for the home are achieved. Not only is the home is capable of being operated more efficiently and much more cost effectively, but it will also carry better equity due to the inherent increased value - a value now recognized by the qualified appraisers involved in the home’s financing valuation.
By following a checklist of established criteria, at Hibbs Homes we are able to plan ahead and not lose focus on the high priority items throughout the planning and construction process, and allows us to achieve desired goals when construction is completed and during the extended life of the home. Our checklists also provide a series of metrics we use to verify that we are on target each step of the way.
As with a typical home, our homes are constructed in accordance with the plans and specifications that are reviewed and approved by local Building Code officials. However, we are building to criteria above and beyond the building code so our criteria and associated checklists help us measure our performance, function as quality control tools, and support our green building philosophy.
There are several program standards we incorporate into our green building process, such as EPA’s Energy Star and Water Sense which are primarily focused on energy and water conservation. In addition to those standards we use criteria set forth in The National Green Building Standard and its associated checklist, which offers a more holistic approach to green building.
The certification checklist(s) we have created require that our homes achieve a minimum score in each of seven categories. Throughout the process, and post-construction, we measure and quantify the home’s performance in the following areas:
Site Planning: Controlling storm water, impact on exiting features, etc is an important aspect to the sustainability of the home and has a strong bearing on the home’s maintenance and environmental impact.
Resource Efficiency: It takes a lot of materials to build a home, and managing those resources is not only cost effective but necessary for the viability of the housing industry.
Energy Efficiency: Often seen as the low hanging fruit because it recieves the most attention and is arguably on of the the easiest measures of a home’s perfomance, energy efficient performance not only saves money for the homeowner but puts less strain on infrastructure as well.
Water Efficiency: Not often thought of, but water efficiency has a dramatic affect on infrastructure and energy. The amount of energy required to heat water alone constitutes 20% of a home’s energy consumption.
Indoor Air Quality: Crucial for a healthy home and occupant comfort, indoor air quality if impacted by a number of variables related to the home’s construction and design.
Customer Education: For our clients to see the optimum benefit of the higher performance of our homes, including ongoing cost effectiveness, we focus on educating our homeowners on proper operation and maintenance of their new home.
Global impact: As long as the above criteria are met this last item is achieved, but assessing the global impact of the construction and life of the home helps to keep the big picture in mind.
By using the guidelines and checklists our company has improved our focus on better building business practices. A good example of the business benefits we have seen after utilizing these green building checklists is that we have realized during this process that through the increased focus on using the checklists we are able to reduce construction waste by 66%.
This metric, and others like it, provide us with concrete measurements to back up our business philosophy and practices, and allows us to continually find ways to measure our improvement over time.
Matt Belcher Matt Belcher is a nationally recognized builder, author, trainer and consultant on the business of high performance building, with more than 30 years experience in the industry. He is the director of the High Performance Buildings Research Center, part of the Midwest Energy Efficiency Research Consortium at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and a principle with Verdatek Solutions, a consulting firm in Wildwood, Mo. He serves on NAHB’s Board of Directors and as a chairman of NAHB’s Green Building & Energy sub-committee, also serving on NAHB’s Building Codes and Standards sub-committees. www