A “green” home-building project is never simple. Custom retailers and integrators seeking to become subcontractors on “green” homes need to be prepared for a higher-degree of collaborative planning and problem solving.
For Jeffrey Fullerton, director of the architectural acoustics group at Acentech, an acoustics/vibration/technology consulting firm headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., “The biggest challenge is making sure we understand the goals of green design.”
To paraphrase the Environmental Building News’ 2001 article, “Establishing Priorities with Green Building,” the priorities of a green building should be to:
• Save energy (via high levels of insulation, high-performance windows, the use of renewable energy sources, and energy-efficient mechanical equipment, lighting and appliances);
• Recycle existing buildings and infrastructure;
• Design residential developments to reduce dependence on automobiles and create community;
• Reduce material use (via smaller buildings, simplified but efficient designs and the use of dimensions that reduce cut-off waste);
• Protect and enhance the building site’s ecosystems;
• Select low-impact materials to minimize pollutants and the energy used in their production and transportation to the job site;
• Maximize longevity (i.e., use durable materials and design for easy maintenance);
• Save water (by using water-efficient fixtures and appliances, and collecting and using rainwater);
• Create safe and healthy environments (via heating/cooling system design, avoiding materials with high rates of volatile organic chemicals off-gassing and controlling moisture to minimize mold); and
• Minimize waste (recycling construction and demo waste, for example).
Knowing Your Green Priorities
“There are a lot of green building technologies out there, and nobody can afford to do every single one of them,” said Peter Levasseur, director of sustainable design at EwingCole, an architectural, engineering, interior designer and planning firm based in Philadelphia. “If you really want to be green, you do as much as you can afford. You establish a priority.