As a member of the Green Home Builders of the Triangle Council, which is a subset of the Raleigh/Wake County Home Builders Association and the Durham/Orange County Home Builders Association. I serve on both the Education and Marketing committees.
What Are Green Homes?
As a Certified ECOBROKER I can help you determine if a Green Home is right for you and your family and put you in touch with builders that specialize in building Green Homes.
Considering Green – What’s In a Green Home in the Raleigh, NC Area
If you’re considering building or buying a green-built home in the Raleigh, NC area, you probably have some specific ideas about what’s involved in a green home. Or maybe you just know that a green home is better for the environment, and want to take steps towards cleaner air and renewable resources.
How “Green” is a Green Home?
Each of the five green home certification programs in North Carolina has its own levels and specifications of “greenness”.
If you’re considering a green home in the Raleigh area, you’ll most likely see certification that involves the Green Home Builders of the Triangle program. Each green home must be independently validated and certified by a third party inspection agency. If you don’t see a green home certificate, your home may not be certified green, even if it does contain many green elements. There are three basic levels of certification, that can be attained by collecting “points” in a variety of building areas, such as:
Bronze Level Green Home Certification
A green home reaches bronze level certification when a total of 257 points have been earned, with the minimum amounts in each category. Green homes with Bronze Level Certification may not have the same features and amenities – for instance, the green home can earn 5 points for minimizing slope disturbance, or 6 points for optimizing the homes location for solar resources by placing the long side of the home within 30 degrees of due south.
A Bronze Level Green Home does not often have a solar water heater or solar photovoltaic power source, but can be the least expensive type of green home built in the Raleigh NC area, depending on the choices made.
Silver Level Green Home Certification
A green home in the Raleigh NC area reaches silver level certification when a total of 415 points have been earned, with again minimum amounts in each category. Thus 61% more points must be earned to reach Silver certification – so some could argue that such a home is 61% greener! It depends on the green homeowner or home buyers preferences and priorities – again, the points can be earned in a variety of ways.
A sealed attic is worth 8 points in the Energy Efficiency category, as is a sealed crawlspace and a solar hot water heater. From the chart above, a Silver Level Green Home requires 62 points in this category, so a combination of many different features are needed.
Gold Level Green Home Certification
To earn a Gold Level Green Home Certification in the Raleigh NC area, the green home must score a total of 549 points, or more than double that of a Bronze Green Home.
Most Gold Level Green Homes that I have seen in the Raleigh area are in the $700K or higher range.
In Water Efficiency, one can gain 7 points for collecting and reusing rainwater, and 7 points for weather-based irrigation controllers (computerized).
Green Home Building and Buying Options Vary
As you can see, the types of green homes available vary quite a bit, and the combinations of green features can be almost endless.
With hundreds of “green” options available across seven different categories, you can design and build a green home that incorporates everything most important to you – and Southern Energy Management, a much-awarded local green home certifier, can help you find the combination that best fits your budget.
What Different Green Building Programs are Available in NC?
If you’re looking into a new custom home that is green-built, you may see certification by any one of the following programs. These green building programs are similar – each uses a point system to verify the different green aspects of the home, and each is independently verified by a third party inspection agency.
LEED Green Homes – US Green Building Council
The LEED program is a national program, with the same requirements and point system for any home across the nation, no matter what the climate or local conditions.
As most green home certification programs, “points” must be earned across a number of categories. For the LEED program, these categories are titled Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy & Atmosphere, Materials & Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation & Design Process.
National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Green Home Guidelines
The NAHB Green Home program is also a national program. The requirements are very similar to the LEED program. Again, a green home may vary considerably in actual design and features, as different combinations of points can add to a green home certification.
For the NAHB Green Home program, the point categories have slightly different names: Lot Preparation & Design, Resource Efficiency, Energy Efficiency, Water Efficiency/Conservation, Occupancy Comfort & Indoor Environmental Quality, and Operation, Maintanence & Education.
Green Home Builders of the Triangle – Green Home Guidelines
The GHBT program is probably most commonly used in the Raleigh, NC area. This green homes point system is designed specifically for the North Carolina climate – lots of moisture in the air, and plenty of heat during the summer.
The Green Home Builders of the Triangle program has seven categories, but still covers all the same topics as the LEED and NAHB programs: Lot Design, Preparation & Development, Resource Efficiency, Energy Efficiency, Water Efficiency & Quality, Indoor Environmental Quality, Operation, Maintainence, & Homeowner Education, and Global Impact.
Earthcraft Homes – Atlanta Based Green Homes Program
While you probably won’t see an Earthcraft Home in the Raleigh area, you may see some elsewhere in NC. The Earthcraft green building program started in Atlanta, GA and has been gradually moving east. This is just another green building certification program, again with similar standards.
Earthcraft House Guidelines include the following categories: Site Planning, Energy Efficient Building Envelope & Systems, Resource Efficient Design, Resource Efficient Building Materials, Waste Management, Indoor Air Quality, Water Conservation, Homeowner Education, Builder Operations, and Bonus/Innovation Points.
NC Healthy Built Homes
NC Healthy Built Homes is the fifth of the “green building” programs commonly seen in the area. This program emphasizes air quality (as do the other four programs mentioned), but does not have as strong an emphasis on as many aspects of a green home as the other programs available.
Certification of a Green Home
Each of these five programs is an independently verified green homes program with required third party inspections and verifications of materials and practices used. If your new home is certified, your builder will be able to provide you documentation of your homes status. Keep it on hand – if you should ever decide to resell your home, that green home certification will help your home stand out!
Interested in building a Green Home in the Raleigh NC Area?
If so, I can put you in touch with many Green Builders.