What exactly is green building? Green building means improving the way that homes and home building sites use energy, water, and materials to reduce impacts on human health and the environment. Learn more at the Environmental Protection Agency (www3.epa.gov).
What if I want to buy or build a green home? If you are buying an existing home, energy-efficiency can be tough to identify. Look for ENERGY STAR-certified homes, which are independently verified to meet strict guidelines set by the Environmental Protection Agency. If you don’t purchase an ENERGY STAR home, you can still look for these features while home shopping:
•Walls and attic with proper insulation and sealing
•Efficient equipment for heating and/or cooling the house
•Efficient lighting and appliances, including ENERGY STAR certified dishwashers, refrigerators, etc.
•Double pane windows with durable weather strippingFor new homes, seek out builders who specialize in green construction.
Once you’re a homeowner, consider taking these steps:
•When buying a new appliance or lighting, look for the blue ENERGY STAR mark
•Install and set a programmable thermostat•Use weather-stripping and caulking to eliminate air leaks around exterior doors and windows
•Conserve water by installing a low-flow shower head
•Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with your community’s recycling guidelines—you likely can recycle more than you think. Try to reuse or resell any items that can’t be recycled.
•Choose nontoxic, biodegradable house cleaning products, or make your own with inexpensive ingredients like vinegar and baking soda. A quick online search will yield dozens of recipes.
•Shop for sustainably produced furniture. Look for products certified by GreenGuard or the Forest Stewardship Council.
•Hire service providers who use environmentally sound practices in their work. You can search professionals for everything from pest control to kitchen design at the GreenHomeGuide website (greenhomeguide.com/findapro).
•Visit your local used building materials yard or store