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Look Inside a Green Built Home

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See below for tips on how you can turn your house into a "greener" house.

cross section of a house

Components of a Green Home

Green homes are designed and constructed to consume less energy and water, are durable and easier to maintain, healthier, and use resource efficient materials.


Effective site planning and management techniques should be used to reduce impacts to surrounding natural resources, and optimize building energy performance. These techniques include siting development in areas away from sensitive resources, limiting disturbance around development, managing storm water and erosion. A building’s energy performance can be optimized through proper building orientation.


By insulating the foundation and incorporating flyash in the concrete, the homeowner can have a more durable, more energy efficient home.

Structural Frame

Building with certified sustainably harvested lumber, engineered wood products, and recycled or rapidly renewable wood products helps preserve our old-growth forests, and reduces material use and construction waste.

Exterior Finish

Using decking and products made with recycled content or renewable materials such as fiber cement helps conserve resources, is more durable, pest resistant , water resistant, and will reduce long-term maintenance costs.


The use of water and energy efficient fixtures, and appliances such as energy star dishwashers, refrigerators, and clothes washers equipped with water conservation features will reduce water and energy use and lower monthly bills.


The use of water and energy efficient fixtures including, faucets, toilets, light bulbs, ceiling fans and landscape irrigation conserve water, electricity, and also lower utility bills.

Insulations and Windows

The use of energy-efficient windows and advanced insulation techniques will lower utility costs and create a more comfortable home environment.

Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC)

A well designed and installed efficient natural heating, and cooling system will save money, increase comfort, improve indoor air quality, and create a healthier environment.

Renewable Energy and Roofing

The use of solar water heating, photovoltaic (pv) energy systems and a radiant barrier reduces utility costs. Durable roofing materials reduces waste to landfills and lowers long-term maintenance costs.

Natural Heating, Cooling and Lighting

Use of passive heating, cooling and lighting systems create more comfortable spaces that also minimize energy usage. Properly placed awnings, overhangs, and deciduous shade trees help add value to your natural heating and cooling system by shielding summer sun and allowing winter sun.

Indoor Air Quality and Finish

Using low or no voc (volatile organic compounds) paints, sealants adhesives, finishes (such as carpet) and wood products helps improve indoor air quality and reduces the exposure of builders and occupants to harmful chemicals that are continuously released long after installation.


There are many attractive, cost-effective durable flooring options such as natural linoleum, bamboo, FSC-certified or reclaimed wood, and recycled content that are available from many manufacturers. These materials have less impact on the environment, they lasts longer, and require less frequent replacements.

Low-Pressure Toilets, Shower Heads and Faucets

Consider the use of low flush toilets and low flow plumbing fixtures that will reduce your water usage and save you money in the process. Consider the following:

  • A conventional toilet uses about 3.5 gallons of water compared to 1.6 gallons from a low flush toilet
  • A conventional shower head uses about 4-5 gallons of water per minute compared to a low flow shower head that uses only 2.5 gallons per minute.
  • Use of a low flow faucet aerator will cut the water usage of faucets by as much as 40%, or from about 4 gallons per minute to 2.5 gallons per minute.

House Wrap

House Wrap is a durable Polyethylene protective barrier placed around the house before the exterior finish is applied that helps protect the house from air and moisture infiltration while still allowing the house to “breath”. A good house wrap material is also one that protects against heat gain and loss. A home constructed with house wrap will result in superior comfort and energy efficiency while protected against drafts, rot and mold.

40 Year Composition Roofing

Consider use of fiber-cement or metal composition roofing that is made up of either steel and aluminum or recycled wood fiber which both contain high percentages of recycled content. These materials are lightweight and durable, and are easily recycled. Fiber-cement or metal composition roofing can also provide better heat reflectance (reducing the energy needs for hot summers).

Radiant Barrier

Thermal radiant barriers are materials that are installed in buildings to reduce summer heat gain and winter heat loss thereby reducing energy needs. The benefit of attic radiant barriers is primarily in reducing air-conditioning cooling loads in the summer and heating needs in the winter. Radiant barriers usually consist of a thin sheet or coating of a highly reflective material, usually aluminum, applied to one or both sides of a number of substrate materials.

Recycled-Content Insulation That Has Low Formaldehyde Emissions

Well insulated homes are warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer, and energy bills will be lower throughout the year. Conventional fiberglass insulation contains particles that can become airborne and irritate the respiratory system. Additionally, fiberglass typically contains formaldehyde, a carcinogen. Consider the use of the following recycled-content alternatives instead of conventional fiberglass insulation:

  • Formaldehyde-free fiberglass insulation offers the same insulating properties as conventional fiberglass insulation but without the formaldehyde.
  • Spray-foam insulation has excellent insulating qualities and seals tightly around pipes and wires.
  • Cotton insulation is made from renewable plant-based material and contains up to 70% recycled materials, such as denim, and is treated to resist pests and fire.
  • Cellulose insulation is primarily made with post-consumer recycled newspaper requiring 30 times less energy to make than fiberglass or mineral wool insulation
  • Single family rebate information
  • Multi-family rebate information

Double Pane Low E Window

Installation of ENERGY STAR®- qualified windows, doors and skylights with proper attention to sealing around the openings can greatly the reduce air leakage that causes rooms to gain or lose excessive heat. Shading windows with trees or vine covered trellises can also further reduce heat gain, especially in the summer. Things to look for when buying doors, windows or skylights:

  • A U-value less than or equal to .35
  • Air leakage rating of less than or equal to .06 cfm/ft
  • Solar heat gain coefficient less than .40
  • Vinyl or Wood Frames that have integral insulation with a high R-value
  • High quality, durable weatherstripping

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs use about 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. Compact Fluorescent light bulbs produce about 75 percent less heat, are safer to operate and also help reduce energy costs associated with home cooling.

Fiber Cement Siding

Fiber cement siding is a recyclable composite material made of sand, cement, cellulose fibers, and other additives. In appearance fiber cement siding most often consists of overlapping horizontal boards, imitating wood cladding, clapboard and imitation shingles. Fiber cement siding is durable and fire-resistant.

90% AFUE Furnace

The efficiency of new furnaces is measured by the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE), a measure of efficiency. Simply put, a 90% AFUE furnace uses 90% of the gas efficiently and wastes about 10% as opposed to older furnaces which operate at about a 65-70% AFUE. By optimizing the performance of heating equipment, you use resources more efficiently, help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote better air quality while saving money on your natural gas bills.

Natural Linoleum

Natural linoleum (i.e. marmoleum) is a durable flooring product made from all natural products such as linseed oil (pressed from the flax plant), pine resin, wood flour, cork powder, limestone dust, natural pigments, and jute. Natural linoleum can be used anywhere a resilient floor is needed, as well as for countertop and desktop applications. Natural linoleum is renewable, biodegradable, durable and self-healing, and is manufactured using no VOCs or toxic materials. It is easy to install with solvent-free adhesives.

Engineered Wood I-Joist

Engineered wood, includes a range of derivative wood products which are manufactured by binding together wood strands, fibers, or veneers with adhesives to form composite materials. These products are engineered to precise design specifications which are engineer-tested to meet national or international standards. Wood I-Joists are engineered to be straighter, stiffer, stronger and more consistent in performance than solid sawn lumber. Engineered Wood I-Joists provide the owner with a superior floor. Engineered wood products use the wood resources more efficiently and therefore promote natural-resource conservation.

Whole House Fan

Consider using a whole house fan to naturally cool your home. A whole-house fan is a type of fan installed in a building's ceiling that extracts hot air out of the living portions of a building and into the attic. The hot air in the attic is forced outside through attic vents. Cooler outside air is then drawn inside through open windows and doors to replace the hot air drawn out of the house by the fan. A whole-house fan can significantly lower the temperature in a building very quickly, and is much less expensive to operate than air conditioning.

FSC Certified Wood

FSC Certified wood is wood that has received a stamp of approval from the Forest Stewardship Council. Purchasing FSC certified wood guarantees that the wood product is harvested from a company that practices sustainable forest management. Use of FSC certified wood helps to preserve our old-growth forests.

Oriented Strand Board in Subfloor

Oriented Strand Board (OSB) is an engineered structural wood panel primarily used for floors, walls and roofs. OSB is manufactured from sustainable, fast-growing trees such as aspen poplar, southern yellow pine, mixed hardwoods, and other suitable species and the manufacturing process involves little material waste. OSB provides a strong, durable option for floor, wall and roof panel applications.

Low/No VOC Paint

Many Paints, Adhesives, Sealants, building finishes such as wood finishes, composite wood and carpeting emit harmful chemicals into the air long after they have been installed, exposing building construction workers and occupants to these toxic materials. Use of low VOC construction materials will create a healthier indoor environment. Examples of low VOC materials include carpets that have been off-gassed at the manufacturing facility or composite wood that uses no urea formaldehyde.

Solvent-Free, Low Toxicity Wood Finish

Typical wood finishes use a variety of toxic chemicals and solvents that help the finish either penetrate into the wood or coat the wood surface. The chemicals in the typical wood finishes are highly volatile and toxic. Consider the use of finishes that are solvent-free, and low in toxicity such as water based products.

Flyash Concrete

Concrete is typically used for house footings and foundations and is often used for various sitework and hardscape applications. Consider using concrete that incorporates flyash. Flyash is a byproduct of coal burning (usually from power plants), and when used in concrete, it makes concrete stronger, more durable, more workable and more resistant to chemical attack. Use of flyash in concrete applications also benefits the environment by diverting it from filling up of our landfills where it’s normally deposited.

Bamboo Flooring

When considering installation of wood flooring, use wood flooring made from a rapidly renewable source such as bamboo, cork or eucalyptus. Use of rapidly renewable resources limits destruction of our old-growth forests.


Landscape watering accounts for approximately 70% of the water usage in our region. Consider the use of rotating nozzles, sub-grade dripper systems and the use of moisture sensors to increase the efficiency of landscape watering. These technologies will reduce water usage by preventing overwatering, watering more efficiently and reducing unnecessary evaporation.

Solar Panels

To help with your long term energy needs, consider taking advantage of rebate and tax credit programs and install solar panels on your property. Solar panels convert sunlight to electricity that feeds directly into the power grid. Local utility companies offer credits for the electricity you produce and promote net energy metering programs that measure how much “net” energy you use and bill you accordingly. Installing solar panels do require up front expenditures, but pay you back in the long run.