Green builders view the house, the site and the surrounding environment as interlocking groups of systems that require careful planning and management.
The following article is excerpted from Build Green and Save. Written by a builder for builders, this new title from BuilderBooks.com illustrates how to efficiently incorporate green techniques in new home construction.
By Matt Belcher, President, Belcher Homes
They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and I’m living proof: I grew up in the building industry, and I learned the general idea and philosophy of building green from my dad. Long before climate concerns and clean and efficient energy spawned the current movement, my dad built green—without even realizing it. He was in the lumber business, and as far as he was concerned his methods were just common sense; they saved him money and made his customers
happy. His methods have always made sense to me, too. My dad built homes that were sustainable and livable. I can’t imagine building any other way; that’s why I build green.
In constructing green homes and communities, builders must consider the following:
2. Site planning
3. Materials usage
4. Energy consumption
5. Water conservation
The facts speak for themselves—according to the U.S. Census Bureau the U.S. population topped 300 million in April 2009. Worldwide, approximately 10,000 babies are born every hour, adding to the world’s current population of about 6.5 billion by leaps and bounds.
All of these people need a place to live, yet our planet is not getting any bigger. Natural resources do not perpetually renew themselves, especially not at the same rate at which we consume them. As the population continues to grow, nature and its bounty are becoming scarcer and thus more valuable. Creating shelter for a rapidly expanding population will put a strain on natural resources, so we must use them wisely.
As home builders, our job is to provide shelter and respond to the demand for housing. When we construct new dwellings and rehab existing homes, we have the power to decide how to best use our natural resources. We can conserve these precious resources, or we can pretend they are infinite and waste them with no thought of future consequences. If we view our natural resources as the commodities they are and begin to understand that their value increases as they become more scarce, then, as with any commodity investment, we would want to maximize its efficiency to produce a greater return on investment—that is, financial investment and investment in our future.
Essentially our work is embedded in the environment. Therefore, it is not that difficult to implement the use of materials that are recyclable, renewable, and reusable. Green builders view the house, the site and the surrounding environment as interlocking groups of systems that require careful planning and management.
Fortunately, emerging competition in green manufacturing has increased the number of green materials available at lower prices, benefiting both builders and consumers. In fact, green manufacturing has become the largest manufacturing segment of the U.S. economy. Even nongreen builders are probably building greener than they realize because of changes in the materials they use and in building code requirements. This all adds up to making green construction more affordable.
So far, the green building market has emerged and green building has spread mainly through small and custom building firms. These firms are accustomed to being more adaptable. They are used to pricing jobs individually as part of their normal business practices. These builders also help determine to a significant degree the overall economics of the building industry. They have proven the theories of green building and the impact it could have on the industry.
Conversely, production builders’ business plans are based on cost efficiency and expeditiousness in the building process, which allows the residential construction industry to be viable. In most cases, production builders’ costs and time lines are precise. Their construction plans rely on predictable costs and set schedules. If green building enables smaller volume builders to build more efficiently, larger volume builders should be able to reap exponentially greater benefits since their business model depends to a greater extent on production efficiency.
Cost has been one of the biggest obstacles to building green, but with manufacturers of building components shifting their focus to green, the cost gap is closing significantly. There are also other ancillary costs that are positively affected such as increased equity in these homes and cost savings to the builder as a result of waste reduction and more efficient use of materials. As a result, it will not be long before green building is simply the norm.
To purchase a copy of “Build Green and Save” go to www.BuilderBooks.com.
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