Being Finicky about Products and Materials Selection Criteria Is Essential to Creating a Genuinely Green Home
When contracting to build a high-performance home that is worthy of the label "green," it is essential for the future homeowner to have someone on the project team who has experience in and understands energy-efficient building materials, appliances and products. This responsibility can be delegated to the architect or a green building products and design consultant working with the architect. Additionally, the homeowner’s contractor, although not a design professional, may be able to advise a homeowner with respect to green building materials, products and appliances. However, whoever the homeowner chooses, at a minimum, should be accredited in a recognized green building certification protocol, such as the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System or the National Association of Home Builders’ National Green Building Standard approved by the American National Standards Institute in January 2009.
Homeowners should also specify in their contract with the person advising on green building products and/or design just how green they want the home to be and what that means. Indeed, recommendations and decisions in this regard may vary depending on whether the homeowner’s chief goal is protecting the environment, improving indoor air quality or saving money on energy costs. For example, if a homeowner is primarily interested in building a home that is environmentally "sustainable," then - depending on how that term is defined - the person advising on green building products and/or design might suggest doing a "life cycle" analysis for each of the home’s principal components. This entails a holistic evaluation of a given item’s impact on the environment at every stage of its "life," including extraction of raw materials, manufacturing and assembly, installation or delivery, maintenance, disposal and, possibly, reuse or recyclability.