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Land of Confusion

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 Sneak peek opportunities: We anticipate hosting some “muddy shoe” site tours on our project in Chesapeake City in the coming months to invite those of you following our project to get an early-bird look at the Infusion Design prototype home. Dates to be announced soon. In the meantime, keep following our construction blog!
 

I don’t know about you, but lately, I feel like I am living in a land of confusion. We have conflicting information about so much—bank bailouts, the auto industry demise, Obamacare. I don’t know if I am getting a little foggy with age, but I am having a hard time finding resources to clearly articulate the issues and, just as importantly, describe the consequences of any actions taken as a result. It is important to me, as an American, to make informed decisions when the time comes to cast my vote, and I am having a hard time finding reliable sources.
 
Similarly, there is a lot of information floating around about green building. When we talk to people about Infusion Design and the marriage of green building with accessibility, one of the first questions we are asked is, “Oh, so you have solar panels and wind turbines, right?” Well, no, we say. “Well, what do you have?” A good question, what DO you have with a green building if it is not the obvious?
 
I recently attended part of the 2009 BuildGreen Conference in Philadelphia, hosted and coordinated by the Delaware Valley Green Building Council. The DVGBC is the local chapter of the United States Green Building Council (USGBC). Notwithstanding the name, the USGBC is not a governmental agency; it is a non-profit organization of building industry professionals working in a collaborative effort to change the way buildings and communities are designed, built, and operated to promote sustainability. 
 
Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell gave the opening remarks to start the event. The program included informational seminars on policy, products, research, case studies, economic development through green building, and other information. Green product providers were also on hand to show their wares. It was a good forum for learning more about the green movement and its impact on the economy, particularly under the current administration.
 
The definition of sustainability often used in the green community is the Brundtland definition, which is, “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” In efforts to create a “sustainable” environment, green building programs have cropped up across the country. Currently, there are over 70 green building programs and the number is increasing by the year. Each program advances certain principals that are based on common themes of sustainability. 
 
For example, the USGBC promotes its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). For tips from the USGBC on greening your home, check out http://www.greenhomeguide.org/. Similarly, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has its Green Building Guidelines. NAHB also has a helpful website at http://www.nahbgreen.org/. Energy Star, the Environmental Protection Agency promulgated program, focuses more on best building practices with insulation and energy efficiency, with a recently added indoor air quality component. https://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=new_homes.hm_index
 
Obviously, there are certain overlapping concerns each program addresses to meet a similar goal: reduce a structure’s impact on the environment during and after construction. In each of the certification programs, the builder is to follow very specific criteria in the site preparation and construction process to ensure the principles of the program are addressed.
 
In practice, this means addressing issues such as stormwater runoff, waste management and recycling, best practices in building and insulation, installing locally produced materials, high-efficiency appliances, reducing the need for fossil fuel use, reducing water and energy consumption, improving air quality and educating others. Sustainability and green building are about creating a healthier environment both inside and outside of a structure. 
 
If you want to learn more about green building, resources are everywhere, and can almost be overwhelming. In the end, as a builder and a homeowner, we tend to have a pragmatic approach to green building within the scope of Infusion Design. We want to install those materials and products that produce the best return on investment, particularly focusing on cost savings, and construction best practices. We want the dollars invested to have the most bang for the homeowners’ buck while being environmentally friendly.
 
 
 
 

 

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