We are all overwhelmed with the concept of “Going Green”…..”green” cleaning products, “green” clothing lines, “green” this, “green” that…..is any of it worth the hype?
Usually, when I hear the term “green”, I reach for my wallet, because it often means someone is trying to get some of my green money out of it! Sometimes, though, “green” is worth the trouble, and it doesn’t have to cost much more than doing it the old way! I recently sat through a class on “Green Building for Building Professionals” as part of my Graduate Master Remodeler designation. To tell the truth, I wasn’t that familiar with green building techniques other than the hype I have read in magazines or seen on the news, and I was a bit cynical going in. I soon realized, though, that many of the green building techniques out there can be incorporated into a new or existing building with little trouble or expense. Let’s look at two ways to “go green.”
You can go through one of the recognized green building certification processes, such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design through the US Green Building Council) or NGBP (National Green Building Program through the National Association of Home Builders). This is the way to go if you want an independently certified and rated building. If you want the tax breaks and utility company incentives that are out there for green buildings, then you need to go all the way and build to attain a certified level of green building. Both LEED and NGBP use a point system and color codes to certify and indicate various levels of efficiency and utility. These systems look at things like energy efficiency, site layout and design, and sustainability.
You can also “go green” by simply choosing some green building techniques that you can incorporate into your design without too much fuss. If you are building new, look at using advanced framing techniques. For example, you can build walls with the studs (the vertical members that are the walls) on 24” centers instead of 16” centers. What did you say? Heresy! Only a “cheap” building would do that! I can just hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth! The truth is you can build a building using advanced framing techniques that is just as strong, just as sturdy, and just as long lived as one built using traditional techniques. And guess what? For every stud you leave out, that’s one less stud that is connected to the outside of your building, busily transmitting freezing cold or roasting hot temperatures to the interior that you work so hard to heat and cool! And, less lumber brought to the job site means less waste in the landfill. The EPA estimates that builders throw away one billion (with a “B”) board feet of lumber every year. The lumber we throw away every year building our buildings would make a 1” x 12” that is almost 190,000 miles long! Talk about getting the plank out of your own eye! And that’s just the tip of this green iceberg!
If you are thinking about or in the process of building or remodeling, ask your builder about incorporating some green in the design. You can save some “green” in your pocket, and keep the world “green” a little while longer for all of us!