Sunday, February 12, 2012

Green Resources

Building America
Certified Green Professional
Clean Air - Cool Planet
CTSI - Clean Technology Green Team
Environments for Living
Global Green
Green America
Green Builder Magazine
Green Building Advisor
Green Building Initiative
Green Home Builder Mag
Green Home Guide
Happy Planet Index
Home Energy Saver
MyFlorida Green Building
Natural Home and Garden
Orange County Yards
Sustainable Buildings Ind.
Sustainable Site Initiative
Think About Pollution
US Dept. of Energy
Water Footprint
Winter Park Green Button
Winter Park Sustainability

Green Links

Green Certification

Incentive Programs

Energy Links

Florida Links
My Florida Climate

Healthy Interiors

Water Conservation


Performance Standards

In the near future it's likely that homes built without a performance rating from a recognized provider may be considered obsolete. Most homebuyers already demand a level of performance and quality that exceeds the building code or typical "industry" standards.

LEED - Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is a nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings.  For homebuilders, LEED is a tool to measure the quality and sustainability of its homes against the marketplace.  For homebuyers, LEED is a Scorecard—like a nutrition label—that gives a clear, concise picture of all the ways a green home performs at a higher level.  There's Green... and then there's LEED.

NGBS - National Green Building Standard and NAHBGreen are designed to help buyers get the full benefit of a greener home. In 2007 the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the International Code Council (ICC) partnered to establish a much-needed and nationally-recognizable standard definition of green building. NGBS projects are designed and built to the ICC 700 National Green Building Standard and certified by the NAHB Research Center. 

FGBC - The Florida Green Building Coalition establishecriteria by which a Florida home can be designated green.  Many homeowners are desiring and some insisting that their home be earth friendly, affordable to operate, and healthy to live in. FGBC's Green Home Standard is a tool that will guide you through the process of selecting green features that are cost effective, benefit the environment, and compliment your lifestyle. The standard is achievable by everyone and recognized as a statewide industry standard. 

Energy Star - Not sure if you're ready to go "green"? Investigate going "blue" with Energy Star. To earn the Energy Star, a home must meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These homes are at least 15% more energy efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code (IRC), and include additional energy-saving features that typically make them 20–30% more efficient than standard homes.

EPA Indoor airPLUS - Indoor airPLUS was created to meet the growing consumer preference for homes with improved indoor air quality. EPA developed additional construction specifications to help improve indoor air quality in new homes. Requirements include the careful selection and installation of moisture control systems; heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems; combustion-venting systems; radon resistant construction; and low-emitting building materials.

Florida Water Star - Florida Water Star is a water conservation certification program with standards and guidelines for water efficiency that include appliances, plumbing fixtures, irrigation systems and landscapes. Water Star can be effectively integrated into projects and enhance the effectiveness of other green certification programs because it is more detailed and relevant to Florida’s unique conditions.

Florida-Friendly Landscaping - Florida-Friendly Landscaping means using low-maintenance plants and environmentally sustainable practices. Learn how you can have a beautiful landscape that could save you time, energy and money while protecting our future. Find out more about your county’s program and the companion web site of the FDEP Springs Initiative.

Adding green features or certification to your project adds value and improves its performance and livability. The most beneficial approach is to start early and incorporate elements and "attitude" into the design. The process is an integrative whole-building approach where decisions made in one category may enhance or impede performance elsewhere. We can help you add green components to your estimate, specifications and construction schedule.

A preliminary analysis can be performed during the design phase so that goals can be established for development of the project. Whether you've decided to go green with your home or you'd like to develop a green program for your business, let us show you the benefits and help you structure the process to suit your needs.

Green Certification Process

Each of the green certifying programs uses similar checklists for tracking the green components of a home and calculating the overall performance rating. In general "Green" can be categorized into: 
  • Property Characteristics; 
  • Site Development; 
  • Water Conservation; 
  • Energy Efficiency; 
  • Smart Resources; 
  • Durable Construction; 
  • Indoor Health; 
  • Environmental Awareness; 
  • Waste Management; and
  • Operations and Maintenance.
Each comprises several methods of varying values that meet the intent of the category. The process is an integrative whole-building approach where points earned in one category may benefit or impede performance elsewhere. 

A preliminary analysis can be performed during the home design phase so that goals can be established for development of the project. Some of the most cost-effective and beneficial results can be obtained by incorporating green decisions into the early design phase. 

Energy Efficiency Resources

American Council on Energy
American Solar Energy Society
Consumer Energy Center
Energy and Environmental Building 
Florida Energy and Climate Comm.
Florida Renewable Energy Assoc.
Florida Solar Energy Center
Florida Solar Energy Industries
FPL Energy Services
Home Energy Magazine
National Renewable Energy Lab
Progress Energy
Southeast Energy Alliance
US Department of Energy

Design Priorities for Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency starts with good design. Of course the efficiency of nearly any home can be improved, but designing for energy efficiency is always going to yield the best results. 
Depending on the status of your project, there are priorities to consider that will have an impact on the energy performance of the structure.
1. Property Selection - View lots are the most common to create challenges with home energy use. Ideally southern views are going to be beneficial and western views the most detrimental. Additionally the shape of the lot can affect the length axis of the home with positive or negative effects on energy use.
2. Solar Orientation - Once property has been selected, the structure should be oriented to capitalize on the seasonal arc of the sun. In the northern hemisphere it's preferred to orient windows to the southern exposure and prevent heat gain on the east and west elevations.
3. Passive Solar Design - The sun can heat our homes in the winter and even help keep us cool in the summer - for free, when passive solar design techniques are used. In this approach, the building itself or some element of it takes advantage of natural energy characteristics in materials and air created by exposure to the sun. Passive systems are simple, have few moving parts, and require minimal maintenance and no mechanical systems.
4. Reduce Energy Demand - Some of the most effective methods to reduce energy use include: increased insulation values and weathertightness; HVAC zoning and programmable thermostatsCFL and LED lighting; and behavior modification.
5. Increase Efficiency - Increased energy efficiency is available for a number of building systems. This is where cost-benefit analysis becomes important. Depending on the success of the previous strategies, there may be a point of diminishing returns from the investment in higher performance products. Windows and HVAC systems are the main items to fall into this category.
6. Solar Thermal Heating (and Cooling) - Solar hot water heating is a type of thermal heating strategy but did you know that thermal solar collectors can also be used to heat the inside of the house? This is called hydronic heating and is actually quite comfortable and can be affordable. Additionally, in the right application solar thermal panels can actually be used to cool your home in the summer time.
7. Alternate or Renewal Energy - The final upgrade to consider is the addition of an alternate energy source like photo-voltaic panels or a renewable source like a micro-hydro generator. Recent industry articles indicate the cost of PV (photo-voltaic) over their lifetime, is getting close to power purchased from utility companies. Additionally, if PV panels are amortized over a 15-year mortgage period, the cost saving and interest tax deduction may exceed the cost of purchased power. Let us help you make the calculations.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

What Makes It Green?

Green can mean something a little different to everyone:  To some it may be features added to a home that increase its efficiency or improve the air quality; To others it may be more of an attitude, a feeling of responsibility or a lifestyle choice; And some may see the long-term value in quality, sustainability or reduced maintenance. The common perspective to all is foresight.

Good building science is green. Lessons from building science have taught us how to save energy; create healthy and comfortable indoor environments; and to use products and techniques that require less maintenance and last longer.

Good planning is green. With a little planning we can select products that save money and protect the environment; design a landscape that needs less irrigation water; learn how to recycle waste instead of sending it to a landfill; and utilize the sun's path to heat our home in the winter and avoid the heat in the summer.

Good stewardship is green. When we hire local craftsmen or purchase products that are manufactured nearby; control stormwater runoff and plant native species; and redevelop a property or utilize existing utilities, we are making decisions that are in the best interest of the environment or our communities.

There are tangible advantages to going green. Green can save energy, water and resources while improving the health, comfort and sustainability of our homes. But green is also an attitude. Our actions can go beyond personal benefits and affect the lives of those around us. Green feels good.