Green Building Defined

Green structures incorporate environmental considerations and resource efficiency into every step of the building and development process to minimize environmental impact. The design, construction, and operation of a project must focus on energy and water efficiency, resource efficient building design and materials, indoor environmental quality, and must take the structure’s overall impact on the environment into account. However, many of the processes and technologies that go into a green project happen behind the scenes and behind the walls. The misconception that building “green” means “expensive” is a stigma typically reserved for builders that are new to green building concepts, particularly to alternative energy sources. All too often, the novice is attracted to visions of windmills and photovoltaic arrays (both of which have there places) while ignoring the many low tech and lower price point features which all contribute significantly to the “greening” of any project. With over 35 years of experience in this field, we have identified which features make the most significant impact for energy efficiency. Additionally, we thoroughly analyze the performance data and reputable third party analysis of all new and improved green construction features before anything is recommended to our clients.

What can a prospective home buyer or business owner look for?

Look for a nationally accredited green building program and certification that the builder is affiliated with, such as the NAHB Research Center Certified Certificate, the owner’s guarantee that the home was built according to one of the levels of green outlined in the NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines. The NAHB Research Center is the sole certifier recognized by NAHB’s National Green Building Program. Another reputable rating program is the LEED Green Building Rating System used by the U.S. Green Building Council, of which we are a member. LEED is a third-party certification program for the design, construction and operation of high performance green buildings. We are capable of having any of our projects certified to any degree of the LEED system, contingent upon a client’s expectations. The entire staff at BACORP have attained the Certified Green Professional Designation. Additionally, we are Certified Green Verifiers for the National Green Building Program.

Energy Efficient Features: Green Saves You Green

Despite the nifty gadgetry and complex energy delivery systems, “green” begins with a structure designed with a low design heat/cooling load and turning out the lights when they are not in use. Many of the energy-efficient qualities of a green home are easy to spot. Appliances, windows, and water heating systems will likely have ENERGY STAR ratings. The home should also include efficient lighting fixtures and bulbs. Renewable energy sources, such as photovoltaic electricity and water heating systems, further decrease the overall energy consumption within the home. Passive solar design, such as window orientation, awnings and light shelves also play a key role in the overall energy efficiency of a structure.

Water-Efficient Features

Fixtures and appliances such as low-flow showerheads, faucets, toilets, and ENERGY STAR dishwashers and washing machines all conserve water. Programmed, low-volume irrigation systems, rainwater collection systems, wastewater treatment systems, and hot water recirculation systems also save water. We recommend employing xeriscaping techniques, or using indigenous seashore flora for landscaping, as these plants have watering requirements appropriate to our local climate, thus greatly reducing strains on fresh water supplies.

Resource-Efficient Features

These decisions, from structure size, to orientation on the lot, to floor plan layout are made in the design of the structure and development of the lot. The structure orientation and design should take advantage of natural daylight to reduce lighting needs, and should use strategies to reduce heat gain in the summer and heat loss in the winter. The structure should contain renewable materials, including rapidly-renewable wood species such as bamboo, and recycled-content materials in carpets, tiles, and concrete formulations.

Indoor Air Quality Features

The heating, air conditioning and ventilation system (HVAC) must be appropriately sized for an efficient and properly ventilated structure. Fans in the kitchen and bathrooms should cycle fresh air inside, and release stale air. Low-VOC paints and finishes and wall papers should be used as well.

Outside the Home

In a green home, care should be taken to preserve trees and other vegetation native to the area. Landscaping should contain plants that are appropriate for the climate, and grouped according to water needs. Driveways and other impervious surfaces should be reduced as much as possible, and may be composed of gravel, permeable block pavers,  grids, or other permeable systems.

Lighting

Lighting being 25% of your utility bill is a major consideration.  BACORP  has certifications in Lighting assessment and can help you in the selection of applicable energy efficient lighting in the way of  LED fixtures that make economic sense.