As homebuilders and remodelers in a time of, well, not exactly a booming construction industry, how do we survive? We give thanks…and then we innovate. More fortunes are made in down economies than in up economies. We are not expecting a fortune, but, we would like to continue to survive, with the lofty goal of even thriving. Even in these economic times. Why? Because in times like these, you have nothing to do but position yourself to be the best you can be. If we were busy building houses for the last two years, it is unlikely we would have had the opportunity to develop Infusion Design. We were already doing green building, but adding accessibility is what makes Infusion Design so unique—you can live in the same durable, sustainable home that is energy efficient and low maintenance, whether you are 20 or 120! In this segment, we will discuss green building. In our next segment, we will discuss accessibility in home building.
There are currently more than 70 green building programs in the United States today. That’s a lot of programs committed to the same goal! How does one know which ones are valid? Which ones are effective? And, of course, which ones are AFFORDABLE? Probably the three most widely recognized green programs in this area of the country are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) by the U. S. Green Building Council (USGBC) (which is NOT a governmental agency—it is a non-profit organization), Energy Star, promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Green Building Program created by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
We are finishing putting our criteria together for Infusion Design for the green component, but, for today, we will discuss a program we are working with for our prototype home, which is LEED certification. LEED will not be a part of the Infusion Design criteria, but, as builders, we always want to be learning and seeing what is new and different about other programs.
There are two ways for builders to become LEED certified: take a test or build a LEED-certified home. We are “doers,” so we are building the home. There are four levels of certification for LEED (ranked lowest to highest): Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. We are seeking Silver for our prototype model home in Chesapeake City (check out construction progress at http://www.delawaretoday.com/Blogs/Infusion-Design-Home/)
. Point requirements are adjusted for the size of the home and number of bedrooms.
LEED measures qualifications for certification in eight categories: (1) Innovation and Design, (2) Location and Linkages, (3) Sustainable Sites, (4) Water Efficiency, (5) Energy and Atmosphere, (6) Materials and Resources, (7) Indoor Environmental Quality, and (8) Awareness and Education. For more information about the criteria for points for different categories, click here
In order to submit a project for certification, typically, you want to begin with your architect (or purchased plans) and builder early on. Much of the criteria and design strategies need to be planned before the first shovel hits the dirt on a construction project. An owner would submit two applications: one application is provided to a LEED for Homes Provider (our nearest branch is the Philadelphia office of ECA Saves Energy), which will initiate a preliminary meeting to review the project and plans with the owner to determine viability, and the second application to the USGBC once the LEED for Homes Provider has performed an initial screening of the project and verified its viability.
We are thankful that our project looks like it will achieve a Silver rating for LEED. While there is still much work to be done, we feel good knowing that we are putting together a product that meets what is likely the most rigorous green standard through achieving LEED certification. While Infusion Design will not be as intense as LEED in its green criteria, we continue to be selective and educate ourselves to ensure that the green criteria for Infusion Design will be affordable and create a meaningful cost savings for our homeowners.
In this season of giving thanks, we hope that you and your family have much to be thankful for as well. Happy Thanksgiving.