Energy-Efficient and Eco-Friendly ‘Green’ Renovations
Energy Usage and Green Building Principles
Sustainability and earth-friendly themes are prevalent everywhere today, including the building and remodeling industry. Green remodeling and building encompasses the resources consumed and waste products generated in building a structure, and its ongoing operational effect on the environment. The EPA estimates that U.S. homes account for 39% of our total energy use, 68% of electricity usage, and 38% of carbon dioxide emissions.
Paces Construction remodeled one Buckhead house in 2008 that Southface Energy Institute estimated saves over 20,000 tons of carbon dioxide every year from our air based on reduced electrical needs from better insulation, new windows and more efficient HVAC systems. Regardless of your political and environmental views, we all can benefit from the extra comfort and reduced operational costs of a well constructed home or addition.
Green Building Certification
While anyone can say they are a “green” builder, there are 3 major programs for 3rd party certification of green buildings: EarthCraft House (SouthFace Energy Institute), Certified Green (National Assoc. of Home Builders & ANSI) and Leed-H (US Green Bldg Council). These programs all require classes and testing, and then certified builders have the option of hiring 3rd party inspectors to certify their work through one of the 3 programs as a “green” project.
Projects are scored with points for various green products and practices used on a job, with points for things like reducing jobsite waste going to landfills, installing energy efficient windows, appliances and HVAC, and using low-VOC paints and carpets, as examples. For a house to be eligible for green certification, builders must show receipts for items used at the jobsite, pass one (or more) green site inspections, accumulate enough points on the job to meet that standard, and pay $750-$2,500+ for applications and inspections.
Several programs have different levels of home certification, such as Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Emerald status, and may include component certifications from other groups, such as Energy Star for appliances or FSC (Forrest Stewardship Council) for flooring. All new homes In the Buckhead area can easily be certified green for a minimal additional cost with good building practices, as well as many remodeled homes that can meet the standards based on scope of work. Smaller remodel jobs not including energy efficient changes like windows and new HVAC systems may not meet certification requirements, but should still use green practices wherever appropriate.
Paces Construction’s Approach to Green Building
Paces Construction (or partners John & Richard) are Energy Star builders, EarthCraft Certified, CGP (Certified Green Professional- NAHB/ANSI), and U.S. Green Building Council and Emerging Green Builder members. While our credentials may be impressive, customers should look at their lifestyle and what they hope to accomplish when considering a green renovation project.
Many principles of eco-friendly building can work at cross purposes to larger homes and more affluent homeowners, while others should still be utilized where possible. Tearing down an outdated Buckhead home of 2,500 SF generates more than 25 dumpsters of waste, or at least 750 cubic yards of landfill material, so reusing and renovation can be an important consideration. Eco-friendly building encourages using locally produced materials to limit transportation costs and resulting pollution, and to use the fewest pieces of the smallest appropriate lumber or engineered wood possible.
Many of our Buckhead customers choose to use products like Italian marble, Honduran mahogany doors, and oversized joists to eliminate “bouncy” floors, but still want low-e double pane windows and high-efficiency furnaces with upgraded insulation. Paces can help you find the information you need to make the right decisions for your needs, while constructing healthy, functional space appropriate to your area.