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Green, High Performance, Homes

Green, High Performance, Homes

Green home with solar panels

How Do You Find A Green Home?

Are you looking to buy a green home?  What does “green home” mean to you?  In the building world, there are actually many shades of green.  When looking for a green home, it will be helpful to understand the different shades of green and where and how you can find these homes in The Triangle.

Understanding Green, High Performance, Homes?

Is a home green if it has Energy Star appliances and LED lights or solar panels?  Or, is a home green if it has been third-party verified and proven to meet a range of national or international green building standards?  There is a long list of green features that we find in homes today and a short list of programs where homes have been evaluated and tested to ensure they meet certain standards.  The recognized certification programs are:  The National Green Building Standards (NGBS), Leadership in Energy and Efficient Design (LEED), ecoSelect, and Energy Star.  To be considered truly “green” the house should be third party verified and found to meet at least one of these standards.

Compared to a normal code-built home, green homes are designed and constructed to be more durable and require less maintenance, have lower monthly operating costs, have better indoor air quality and overall are more environmentally friendly.  From an energy efficiency standpoint, a green home should be at least 30% more energy efficient.

Green Features

There are many things that we can do to our homes to make them more energy efficient and/or more environmentally sound.  Many homeowners are updating homes to make them greener and builders are incorporating some of these features into new construction.

Examples of green features are:

  • Active solar design
  • Energy Star appliances
  • EPA WaterSense plumbing fixtures
  • Electric car charging station
  • Fresh air ventilation
  • Geo thermal HVAC system
  • High efficiency toilets
  • Insulated basement walls
  • LED lighting
  • Locally sourced materials
  • Low VOC paints/sealants
  • On demand hot water heater
  • Passive solar design
  • Programmable thermostats
  • Solar panels
  • Radiant barrier roof deck
  • Rainwater collection
  • Sealed attic
  • Sealed combustion FP
  • Sealed crawl space
  • Solar active heating
  • Solar hot water
  • Solar passive heating
  • Drought resistant landscaping

How Do You Know That A Home Is Truly Green?

Green Certification Programs

Having some green features in a home does not make the home itself green.  In fact, the word green has become so over used that the Durham Chapel Hill Home Builders Association has renamed its Green Building Council the High Performance Building Council.

There are four different programs that builders can choose from to get different levels of green certification.  These programs are:

  • The National Green Building Standard (NGBS)
  • Leadership in Energy and Efficient Design (LEED)
  • ecoSelect
  • Energy Star

Each of these programs has different requirements and features.  What is similar across these programs is the requirement for third party verification to become certified.

Green Certification Programs Compared

The National Green Building Standard is the only green rating system for homes and apartments developed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).  To achieve this certification, third party verifiers ensure that the following six components are in place at every site and for each home.

  • Site design, lot preparation and development
  • Resource efficiency
  • Energy efficiency
  • Water efficiency
  • Indoor air quality
  • Operation, maintenance & home owner education

The NGBS certification can be achieved at the Bronze, Silver, Gold and Emerald levels.

 LEED is an internationally recognized certification program that requires third party verification for buildings or neighborhoods.  While LEED can be applied to homes, it is more often applied to commercial buildings.  LEED has three certification levels: Silver, Gold and Platinum.

Energy Star is a series of checklists and inspections, testing and verifications developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  Homes with the energy star label deliver better quality, comfort and durability compared to a typical, code-built, home.

ecoSelect is a national program whereby the standards can be measured to show improved energy efficiency.  The ecoSelect program provides a basis for reducing a home’s energy use while incorporating indoor air quality and water efficiency requirements.

If you are interested in green or energy efficient homes, you have probably heard of a HERS Index or score.  But, what is the HERS index exactly?

The HERS Index (Home Energy Rating System) is the Nationally recognized system for showing a home’s energy performance.  The third-party certification programs listed above look beyond energy efficiency while the HERS Index is solely focused on being able to compare the energy efficiency of one home to another.  The rating system is based on a rigorous inspection and testing by a certified home energy rater.  Having a HERS Score for a green home does help you to put its energy efficiency in context.

HERS Index

What is a Net Zero Home?

Today, there is a movement to achieve a HERS Index Score of 0 which means the home uses no net energy.  A home with a HERS Index Score of 0 is called a Net Zero Home or a Net Zero Energy Home.  To achieve net zero, a home must produce as much energy as it uses and it does this by producing energy with solar or wind.  In North Carolina, we are seeing net zero homes with active solar panels and battery back-up systems.

To be net zero, this does involve the energy company.  Some utility companies allow what is called Net Metering which means the energy created by the home can be stored by the grid for use by the home during times of peak energy use.

As stated by the BPC Green Builders, “When the same amount of clean energy is put into the grid as the home uses from the grid, the HERS rating is 0.  Net Zero Energy homes also may be net negative, i.e., have a -0 HERs rating.  This means the home actually produce more energy than they use.

To learn about the Benefits of Net Zero Energy Homes, see a related post on Real Estate Expert’s Array web site.

Real Estate Experts is developing North Carolina’s first 100% Net Zero Energy Neighborhood.  Array is located on Orange Grove Road 10 minutes west of Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  For detailed information about Array, visit the Array web site.

If you are looking to buy a green home or you want to build a green, high performance home, contact us at Real Estate Experts.  We are very knowledgeable about green, high performance homes.  We know the neighborhoods where you can find these homes and we know the high performance builders in our market.

Would You Like To Live In A Super Energy Efficient Home in Chapel Hill?

The 100% net-zero energy neighborhood Array sits just off Orange Grove Road, which is about 15 minutes west of Chapel Hill. Located on nearly 60 gorgeous acres of land, this area has lots of attractive features like a beautiful pond, a community gathering space, walking trails, and a community garden.

A typical “green home” is about 30% more efficient than the standard house built to meet the building code. The homes in Array will be at least 90% more efficient than the average home. Both the land itself and the homes will be built to the national green building standards, and they will not only be energy efficient, but they will also have measures to maintain indoor air quality.

“This project proves we can build a beautiful home that people want to live in which doesn’t consume a ton of energy

The homes in Array will be custom homes. The house plans will be modeled with the correct size of solar arrays in mind so that they can have net-zero energy. Since these homes will have solar arrays, they’ll also be metered, which means they’ll have monitors. There will also be a dashboard on the neighborhood website, which will show that the homes truly are achieving 100% net-zero energy. 

Some neighborhoods across the country say that they have 100% net-zero energy homes, but they don’t always prove it. We want people to see what differences their energy usage mean for their bottom line.

So why am I so committed to this neighborhood? The building community is responsible for about 40% of the nation’s energy usage and 25% of our water consumption. This project proves we can build a beautiful home that people want to live in which doesn’t consume a ton of energy allowing homeowners to reduce their carbon footprint and do their part for the environment.

We hope to have our permits in hand by the end of 2020 and to be able to sell lots by the first quarter of 2021. If you’re interested in the neighborhood, visit www.ArraySustainableLiving.com or reach out to me directly. I’d love to give you more information about this amazing neighborhood.

Going Green

Going Green

How many times have you heard the phrase, “location, location, location”? Most likely, it’s something you’re well acquainted with, especially in the real estate world. Location and price are two very important factors in determining desirability of a house, but recently sustainability and “green” housing options have also influenced desirability. Many realtors and real estate professionals are starting to hear from clients about their interest in green or sustainable housing.

Green construction is gaining momentum. Even real estate empires are turning towards sustainable technology; think Durst Organisation’s Bank of America Tower in New York City. Even the Empire State Building has been refurbished to utilize green construction and sustainable technology. The idea behind sustainable technology and green construction works to promote an understanding of the future of our earth. “If there are going to be 9 billion people on the planet in 2050, you’ve got to feed them, house them, find them work and they’re going to need more energy,” says former JP Morgan managing director Doug Lawrence.

Not only can you take part in saving the environment, but you can also reduce your carbon footprint. Sustainable technology is a great way to minimize your carbon footprint, your impact on the environment, and even change your finances by changing your utility payments.

Sustainable Technology

The number of homes being built in the United States with environmentally friendly features is only increasing. From 2006 to 2010, the percentage of these homes increased from 2% to 16%. That’s a big change for only a few years!

In 2013, nearly 400,000 households had rooftop solar panels according to an assessment done by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Hopefully, that number will grow past 900,000 households by 2020. Combine those numbers with homes that are using environmentally healthy products or appliances like green label flooring, energy efficient appliances, and alternative energies… and you’ve got millions of homes “going green” throughout the country.

Environmentally sustainable housing options are increasingly common, even if a house isn’t entirely “green”. There are so many ways builders and developers can add in sustainable features to the homes they’re creating. To get a better understanding of those housing features might look like, here are some “green” or sustainable housing options:

  • Solar panels
  • Natural lighting
  • Water conservation
  • Energy star appliances
  • Renewable energy
  • Rain water collection
  • Recycled materials
  • Use of local materials

Is Energy Efficiency or Sustainable Technology for You?

If you are interested in energy efficiency and green living, you have no doubt contemplated solar energy for your home. Indeed, solar energy is the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available. A solar power system consisting of solar panels is the go-to solution for green living enthusiasts.  For many, however, the cost of solar panels has been an issue. Solar Power Authority is a fantastic resource to use in order to determine whether you can afford solar panels. Check them out here, and get a free quote on solar panel implementation.  Not only will you find out local costs of solar panels, but you’ll also be able to find industry leaders throughout the country.

Using the Real Estate Experts advanced search function, you can discover what homes near you are outfitted with your preferred green building features. Optional features include:

  • Active Solar Design
  • Drought Resist Landscaping
  • Electric Car Charging Station
  • Energy Star Appliances
  • Exhaust Garage Fan
  • Fresh Air Ventilation
  • Geo-thermal HVAC System
  • High Efficient Toilets
  • Insulated Basement Walls
  • LED Lighting
  • Solar Hot Water
  • Locally Sourced Materials
  • Low Voc Paints/Seals/Varnish
  • Passive Solar Design
  • Programmable Thermostats
  • Radiant Barrier Roof Deck
  • Rainwater Collection
  • Sealed Attic
  • Sealed Combustion FP
  • Solar Passive Heating
  • On Demand Hot Water Circ
  • Solar Power Photovoltaics

Real Estate Experts

Are you interested in finding a home with green or sustainable features? Environmentally friendly homes don’t have to be as expensive as you think. At Real Estate Experts, we’re current on green living, energy efficient homes, and even sustainable options. We’re excited to help you find your dream house, and outfit it with whatever sustainable options that work for you. If you’re looking to build a home, we’re happy to help connect you with builders in our network who feature energy efficiency, or green materials.

Unsure of what updates to make before selling your home? Real Estate Experts are here to help. Visit us online.  Call us today at 919-813-6449 or e-mail us at  [email protected] for additional information.