Finding eco-friendly, energy efficient home builders used to be a difficult task, but as consumer-awareness about environmentally friendly building has increased, so has the demand and availability of eco-friendly and energy efficient home builders. Homeowners have discovered that not only is building green a way to help protect the environment, but it is also more cost-efficient than building a traditional home. By building green, homeowners can save money on materials, utility bills once the home is built,and energy efficient appliances.
Finding Green Builders
Examples of Large Builders
While there are many eco-friendly energy efficient home builders that are found in certain parts of the country, here are a few of the more popular green builders that can be found nationally.
- Shea Homes has trademarked their Shea Superiology program, which offers eco-friendly building materials and energy efficient appliances for "superior" green living.
- Pulte Homes has green building projects in various states that strive to minimize the environmental impact of building, while maximizing sustainability.
- Centex Homes announced the use of energy efficient appliances in all its homes, back in 2009. The company's Centex Energy Advantage package includes various Energy-Star appliances and energy efficient technologies as standard.
Identify Local Builders
Start your home building project the same way you would begin any building project by asking for references. While friends and family are a great way to find carpenters and electricians, they may have more trouble pointing you in the direction of home builders that specialize in green homes. Once you find a builder, you can then begin to examine their green building credentials. There are several resources available to help you in your search:
- Green Builders Directory: Check out this website and search by several available categories that even include related legal services.
- US Green Building Council: This online searchable member directory offers you the ability to search by state. You can select a specific category such as Architects, Residential Designers, Interior Designers, Product Manufacturers, State and Federal Government agencies, and more.
- Build It Green: This west coast regional organization has an extensive website that includes a data base you can search for certified green professionals.
- Green Real Estate: If you don't want to tackle a construction project, you can still find green homes for sale. This website features videos of current available green homes throughout the United States.
- Green Pro Directory: You can search for all types of green professionals, such as plumbers, electricians, builders and others.
Factors to Consider
While many builders may promise to be "green", it can be difficult to ascertain how green a builder really is, just by talking to them or checking their company website. For this reason, there are various green building certification programs in place to ensure green building practices are followed. Among the more popular certifications are:
- LEED, which stands for "Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design," has a list of green building projects on their website. By looking at the list and the website, you may develop a better sense of what green building entails, as well as find access to green builders in your area.
- Energy-Star is a joint government program between the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency that measures the energy-efficiency of appliances. For a home to qualify as an Energy-Star home, it must follow federal guidelines that ensure it is 20-30% more efficient than homes that are traditionally constructed. The Energy-Star website offers a list of partners that are Energy-Star Rated.
- National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has its own program to ensure that builders are using green construction practices, using a third party to certify that a green home builder is using practices acceptable to the National Green Building Standard (NGBS).
- Many states have their own green building certification programs to help builders and home buyers ensure that their new homes use new technologies to reduce environmental impact.
FreeGreen, associated with numerous green building associations including the National Association of Home Builders and the U.S. Green Building Council, provides house plans as well as custom plans for prospective home buyers looking to build green. If you're wondering about green builders, green-friendly sites like Green Builder can be a great basic tool in answering many of your questions about the latest in green building, from eco-friendly materials to standards and regulations and even finding a green-friendly builder in your area.