UrbanTurf Reader Asks: What Makes a House “Green?”

by Mark Wellborn


In this week’s installment of “UrbanTurf Reader Asks,” a reader asks a question that we have wondered about ourselves in recent weeks: When a home is advertised as ‘green,’ what does that actually mean?

“The term ‘green’ is being thrown around a lot these days, and it seems every builder and developer is jumping on the band wagon advertising their property as such. But what really makes a property green? An Energy Star dishwasher?  Insulated windows? 

Last week, you ran a story about prefab homes produced in Tennessee that were being sold as green and energy efficient. But what are these homes made from? They include insulated windows and solar panels, but look more like ‘high-tech’ mobile homes. Are they safe to actually live in?  Through a tornado? Through a hurricane or fire?

I would love it if someone could give me an appropriate description of what green actually means when it is used in an advertisement to sell a home.”

Post your thoughts in the comments section. If you would like to submit a question for “UrbanTurf Reader Asks,” send us an .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/urbanturf_reader_asks_what_makes_a_house_green/920


  1. benji said at 2:22 pm on Monday May 18, 2009:

    This site offers a lot of good information for people that are interested in green design and architecture.


  1. Michael Kiefer said at 11:34 pm on Monday May 18, 2009:

    Are we suffering from “GREEN FATIGUE” already?

    Quite possibly one of the hottest marketing pitches these days has to be the green one. I see and hear it all the time “how green is this home”? It causes many consumers to wonder are they being sold a bill of goods or is what they are buying truly a green home.

    Without going into solar, geothermal and straw bale features, the greenest home is one that I feel should reflect some of the following;

    1. Location wise - Short commute to work

    2. Bldg envelop - Tight bldg structure, which is tough to figure out if you weren’t part of the actual building process, however all homes / condos can be insulated, sealed and caulked within a reasonable budget.

    3. Appliance assessment review - During the home inspection check the age of each appliance and determine which ones could be tuned up to operate more efficient and those that are on their way out look to replace with Energy Star.

    3. An energy audit - This will shed a lot of light into the performance of your home and where wise and prudent upgrades can be throughout.

    4.  With newly renovated homes request copies of bldg permits and inspection stickers to see they had their project approved by DCRA as this will tell you if the home was insulated.

    5. If a home is being pitched as “green” they should have gone as far as using no VOC (volatile organic chemicals )paints which promotes better indoor air quality.

    I see lots of developers claiming bamboo flooring as the main quality of a green home and it is frankly a mistake to make this claim.  The other point concerning bamboo is most developers are using a low grade immature variety from Asia that also has some harmful chemicals in the bonding of it.  The consumer needs to be wary of some claims and a chain of custody is taking it a bit far but sometimes is the only way to be 100% sure that the variety of renewable bamboo flooring is sourced correctly.

    As the consumer you need to do your homework and ask the tough questions of the listing agent that is marketing / selling the property you are seeking.

    One thing to remember sustainable needs to be attainable and the only way we will get there is if consumers start actively requesting and seeking out the homes which are truly ahead of the curve.

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