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What is the typical budget for building a Green home?
By – Jennifer B. Pippin, CPBD, AIBD, CGP
There is basically no ‘typical’ budget for a green home. Green means different things to everyone. First you must determine what you consider to be the green features and options you would like in your green home. There are so many options to choose from when building green. You can start with creating a very light green home, to a very dark green home, or anywhere in between. Did you know that most of the new local Habitat for Humanity homes in our area are being built ‘Green’? Green homes can be created on a very small scale, as well as in larger homes.
There are many variables with the costs, depending on the finishes you choose, the green features you incorporate initially, as well as the ones you plan for adding in the future. Green homes can be built with no additional costs, by planning the home appropriately to the site it will be built on, working with the path of the sun across the property, using appropriately sized overhangs for the area, including water efficient plumbing fixtures, energy star rated appliances and using compact fluorescent light fixtures.
Also, it is important to make sure that anyone who makes a hole in the exterior walls, roof or floor of the building, seals them up. No holes should be left unsealed. Included in these homes should be universal design strategies as well, providing long term accessibility for all ages. These can include wider hallways and doors, one accessible bathroom, with a 5’ turning radius on the main floor and an exterior door with wheelchair access.
There are many upgrades, if your budget allows it, by including energy star rated windows, upgrading your insulation package in the entire house or at least in the attic, sealing your crawl space, increasing the SEER rating of your HVAC units, choosing Low and No VOC paints and cabinets with no formaldehyde. Then, you could add in readily renewable products, such as bamboo or cork flooring, tankless gas water heaters or solar panels for hot water or for generating electricity and rainwater harvesting.
The Importance of a HERS rater:
Consider having a HERS (Home Energy Rating Service) rater involved on your project. This service typically provides an energy analysis of your home. This includes things like conducting a blower door test, which provides data on how leaky your home is and where to seal it up, if there are holes to be sealed. They will also perform a duct blaster test, to determine how leaky the HVAC duct system is and how well the system provides the required air flow into the
individual rooms. The options are really endless.
The Pippin Green Home on Lake Norman
As you can see, there is a wide range of things to consider when building a green home. The most important features of a green home are building it energy efficiently, meaning making sure the building envelop (walls, windows, roof and crawl space) are all of good quality and well sealed. Secondly, make sure the indoor air quality is as good as you can afford to make it, that your plumbing fixtures are water efficient and the appliances are energy efficient. This type of home can be built very cost effectively and also expensively, depending on your ‘Green’ goals and budget.