What Constitutes a Green Home?

by Michael Kiefer


The word “green” is being used these days to describe just about anything on the home market, which begs the question: What exactly is a green home?

This question comes up more often than not with developers and realtors as they use the term to describe either entire projects or perhaps just features of a renovated home. A green home is essentially a high-performing property that looks to surpass any of the current building code requirements through superior insulation, weatherization and HVAC efficiency. So in the case of our urban environment, if you are looking for what makes one home greener than another, the answer usually lies in which property has the better insulation and air barrier strategies.

So, where can one head when trying to determine how green their prospective home is if it doesn’t have a certification from LEED or Energy Star associated with it? As a consumer, you need to be proactive in addressing questions about the property’s utility bills, look closely at how the home is insulated and let your realtor and home inspector know from the start that these items are very important for you as part of your home purchase.

The green review strategies that you will employ will differ depending on if you are looking at single-family homes or condos in multi-unit buildings. With condos, buyers should focus on the unit appliances and windows and inquire about scheduled capital improvements to the building. With single-family homes, the proof of how green the property is comes with an energy audit as this will provide an accurate energy-efficiency rating. (This test can usually be used only on certain homes.) A number of home inspectors are now combining audits with their inspections in an effort to expand their services.

In short, in our urban marketplace, a green home is that which is exceptionally well insulated, weatherized and energy efficient that provides you with lasting financial comfort for years to come.

See other articles related to: green real estate, condo buying

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/what_constitutes_a_green_home/1321


  1. John Greene said at 10:33 am on Friday September 18, 2009:

    Condos seem to trail behind single family homes simply with green renovation due to the amount of people involved in the decision.  That being said, many in the area have started this process so if you’re in the market for a condo, make sure to check with the unit’s board of directors to see what has been done, what is being done currently and what is planned to be done.

    Many condominiums are finding quick gains using solar hot water systems to heat common boilers or PV to power common electrical needs in the community.  Savings like this can really drive down condo fees (or at least keep them from increasing) which is an important decision in a condo purchase.

    Beware of the flip side of this as well.  With all the new projects going on, you may purchase only to find out a assessment to pay for it all. While most condominiums are able to pay for capital improvements with reserves, many are not.

  1. Robert said at 12:33 pm on Friday September 18, 2009:

    These are very good comments. If you are in a condo you should also stay abreast of the actions of your board to make sure they are monitoring the utility bills with a mind to lowering those costs and also that they are replacing worn-out heaters and air conditioner chillers with modern energy efficiency models. If your windows are drafty, you should approach your condo board about replacing them. This can be expensive, but when my condo replaced them we saw about 16% in fuel savings immediately. A great tool for analyzing all this is the building component replacement reserve study. It lists every major part of the building and its expected remaining life expectancy. If you see a hot water heater or an air conditioner chiller is due for replacement in the next two or three years, it would serve you and your community well if you started lobbying for a high energy-efficiency model. E-mail me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you want to know more about these skills and tools.

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