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Finding Your New Green Home

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
You can build or remodel green which is a huge learning experience in itself, but if you're looking to buy a new or existing green home it can also be frustrating. While green living has become more mainstream there's still not too much info out there about where to find green homes. With some searching though, you can find what you’re looking for.

In my opinion a fun way to locate green homes is to attend a local green home show. Not all states have green home shows or tours, but many do. At a green home show you'll meet green home builders and merchants, see green home goods, and learn more about green homes in general. Check with your local chamber of commerce to learn about green home events in your area.

For an eclectic collection of some awesome green homes for sale visit Green Homes for Sale. This is one of my favorite drool worthy sites on the web although there are cons - for example, not all the homes seem as green as they could be. People will list some nutty stuff there along with some insanely expensive homes. However, you can search by location U.S., Canada, Nicaragua and Puerto Rico, ID number, or even watch fun slide shows and it is a fun site to browse; just not all that realistic at all times.

Educate yourself. Just because a green home is listed as a green home does not make it so. On the flip side there are eco-friendly homes out there that likely aren't being marketed as such. Read green home books, green building magazines, and green home guides or green building blogs to get familiar with green home terms and trends. Look at typical green home products and compare them. Make a list of green attributes you want in a home before you start shopping. There's no need to pay more for a 'green' home that's not.

Green home information links for consumers: 
post #2 of 20
The USGBC  (United States Green Building Council) can also be a help.
post #3 of 20
İ don't know how many people will be able or willing to spend the time but research on the net is all important. Much of what we know from news stories, friends and blogs on the net or even on Jennifer's list contains considerable misinformation, spin, misrepresentation or bust outright BS.  

1) What type of heating - İf you look on the net and even in our products section electric heaters are touted as being eco which a radiant heater can NEVER be. Air source heat pump (ASHP) or ground source heat pump (GSHP) - another choice that there is much confusion on. The GSHP is more efficient but may well not be enough more efficient to ever cover the additional cost.

2) Lighting - What type, florescent, CFL, LED or incandescent. Actually each has it's place and is more suitable. Replacing the incandescent bulb in a motion detector lamp where the bulb is on for short periods with a CFL lamp that will soon fail is definitely not green. Placing CFL lamps in a ceiling lamp in a can where heat can not escape and will most likely cause the lamp to fail is not green. 

3. Water heater - What type? The most cost effective today (for a projected 13 year period) is a dedicated heat pump style. İnstant hot water systems using an extra pump and separate return lie are a bad choice (İ have one that has the valves closed). Seems nice but regardless of the good insulation the heat losses are significant. 

4. Solar PV power may or may not be green depending on the system. How is it oriented, what are the material qualities etc.

Buying a home is the biggest investment most will ever make and often given less thought that buying a new car.
post #4 of 20
Building a new green home

If you're planning to build a new home, going "green" can save natural resources and create a more healthful living environment at the same time. It can also reduce your water and energy bills.


Decide which green features you want to incorporate into your new home. Some of the most common considerations in green building are:

Land use planning and design techniques that preserve the natural environment
Energy efficiency in heating and cooling systems, appliances, lighting, and the building envelope
Water conservation indoors and outdoors
Materials that are recyclable, durable, have little or no toxicity, and emit few or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with indoor air pollution
Indoor environmental quality in which moisture, ventilation, and pollutants are managed
Waste reduction, reuse, and recycling during construction and home maintenance.

edited to remove link - Russ
post #5 of 20
From the İnternational Code Council

The İnternational Green Construction Code Public Version 1.0 is available for download.


All levels of government and Building Safety Professionals recognize the need for a mandatory baseline of codes addressing green commercial construction, providing a framework linking sustainability with safety and performance. The International Green Construction Code™, in this Public Version 1.0, is designed to meet these needs through model code regulations that promote safe and sustainable construction in an integrated fashion with the ICC Family of Codes.


This comprehensive code establishes minimum regulations for buildings and systems using prescriptive and performance-related provisions, working as an overlay to the I-Codes. For example, the requirements of the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code are established as a baseline for the International Green Construction Code energy provisions which can be increased through the selection of “Jurisdictional Requirements” and “Project Electives.” It is founded on the principle that a model code must address the market segments beyond those captured by rating systems or other evaluation guides, and therefore, must be enforceable, useable, and adoptable.


The International Green Construction Code provides many benefits, among which is the model code development process that offers an international forum for building professionals to discuss the science and performance of buildings and systems. This forum provides an excellent arena to debate improvements to the ICC Family of Codes and Standards. The ICC system promotes the mission of the ICC and consistency in the application of codes worldwide.



Public Version 1.0 of the International Green Construction Code was prepared in 2010 by the Sustainable Building Technology Committee (SBTC)  created by the ICC Board of Directors, with the American Institute of Architects and ASTM International as Cooperating Sponsors. The SBTC is a broad based committee (see page v) representing a balance of interests consistent with the ICC Governmental Consensus process and revised OMB Circular A-119 which establishes policies on Federal use and development of voluntary consensus codes and standards. The SBTC was composed of 28 individuals from public, private and nonprofit sectors with an expertise in disciplines critical to the topics in the International Green Construction Code. The SBTC was supported by several Work Groups composed of additional experts, along with a staff Secretariat and four staff experts. The intent was to develop a comprehensive set of regulations for green building systems consistent and coordinated with the I-Codes  

İ have just downloaded it and as it has 208 pages in word (also available in PDF format) it will take some time to go through and understand. Maybe those from California will have a head start as it seems the document is at least partially based on California building code.

Technical content was developed from an initial staff resource document, which utilized approaches from the California Green Building Standards Code along with leading edge information from numerous other sources, as well as staff expertise. 

The document is available for free download at the link provided above.
post #6 of 20
From ideabox located in Portland, OR a selection of prefabricated 'green' homes.

The units range in size from 215 to 1250 sq ft. They say that all components are eco rated by one group or the other.

urban cube.png
Urban Cube model

Fortino model

The only mention of price was the about 148,000 for the Fortino model sold at the recent Portland show. This would no doubt exclude the land and permits at a minimum. At one point 'euro style' kitchens are mentioned - İ have great difficulty seeing any difference in styles and İ have lived both places - but it is a nice buzz word. 

Advantages- Disadvantages:
- Factory fabrication can always be of better quality with less wastage  
- Making something site specific will probably be difficult at best
- Similar units İ have seen on the net before have tended to be on the quite expensive side - 120 USD per ft sq does not seem cheap for a 'plain Jane'.
- Modifications to the plan will probably be discouraged as it would require modified drawings and create a headache for the workshop. 
- pre-fabricated homes (factory built homes) are not new but the green approach is apparently supposed to make them more desirable or possibly to appeal to a different demographic.. 

Questions to be asked:
What is used in the construction  (the part you can't see) - the website does not say much. İf it is to the mobile home standard then it is a negative. You want to buy something that should appreciate over time - typically mobile homes don't. 

Pest and mold resistance - how is it taken care of?

post #7 of 20
 Hi Jennifer, thank you for sharing these helpful sites. Another green oriented site is, they are also doing their share in helping others in pursuing green living. They help educate people on how window tints can be labeled as one of the most effective ways to conserve energy consumption, in our home, office or car. Window tint is a practical way to save money from energy bills while caring for the environment. Window tints are cost-effective, energy-efficient and definitely eco-friendly.

post #8 of 20
Hi Jennifer, thank you for all the great information! I just read a great article at all about turning your home into a more energy efficient place to live. Lots of great eco-friendly and money saving tips!
post #9 of 20
Still wondering what to do next!

Sorry to butt in!
Edited by chris jordan - 4/6/10 at 7:23pm
post #10 of 20
Three years ago we built our house, based on green values.
> It's small (820 sq ft (1 BR, 1 bath) + 140 sq ft loft-office). Only 2 of us live here.
> It was built using formaldehyde free materials
> Designed from the start to be energy efficient. Very well insulated & good windows. The basic shape traps warm air in the peak of the vaulted ceiling, which is then pulled back into the basement. In the summer the house is nice and cool, without A/C.
> We could find no suitable canned plans that fit our requirements, so we disigned from scratch. I used AutoSketch for all the drawings.
The design is spacious & open. The living room & kitchen ceiling is 17'
> The design accommodates future expansion ( a lock-off suite ). When we retire in a few years we can have a tenant in the suite while we travel & go climbing.
> All paint was low or zero VOC
> No garage, but we have a nice tool-shed (99.9 sq ft (no building permit rqd) + loft)
> Built at the peak of the last economic boom, total cost of all materials was $80k CAD. We have no mortgage.
> 100% fire-proof roof & siding... we live in an interface fire hazard area.

After living in it for the past 3 years, we still love it, and can't imagine how we would have done anything different. The house was 100% built by us, and complied in every manner with local & national building-codes. We used no contractors, which was easy. In BC the only element that must be contracted is electrical... and I am a registered electrical contractor. When I was a young man I worked for my father's company as a plumber, so I was able to do the plumbing, although I did hire a plumber for 1/2 a day to consult on the design.
Doing all the work ourselves was important in ensuring the highest quality of workmanship & the correct selection of materials.

The construction of a house, any house... even a small one, consumes a large amount of the earth's resources. The daily runs to the dump to dispose of packaging & waste amounted to a staggering amount of land-fill. After going through this experience, I cannot imagine why anyone would ever want to own a large home. Small is easy to build heat, easy to clean. Small is green.

A friend in a community 25 km north of us loves our home design, and wants to build. But his lot has a building covenant that calls for a minimum square footage of 1400 sq ft, plus it must have a garage. Such building covenants are highly unethical as they forbid an environmentally conscientious small home.

Arnold Schwarzenegger drives a Hummer. He converted it to hydrogen. But it's still a bloody hummer. A Hummer is the defining icon of a "Fxxx the Planet" mind-set. Definitely not green!
A big house is like a big car... It might be somewhat energy efficient, for a hummer of a house, but big is definitely not green.

post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 
Mountain, your house sounds good. I can't imagine why anyone would want a large house either. We built a super tiny passive solar house and it was small but enough - no garage either. I believe in just enough, not excess. Small is green. I've had people totally freak on me about this though. Someone told me, "You're just jealous of rich people who can afford a big house." um... ok.

People are obsessed with big houses and it's a huge drain on resources.
post #12 of 20
Speaking of energy efficient homes, going green for a new home construction may be as simple as having well-insulated homes with the help of alternative (natural) technologies.  You'll be surprised by how having a well-insulated home can significantly lower your bills.  Take in for example having your contractor use only cost and energy-efficient materials for your home construction in NY, or anywhere else for that matter.

** edited by admin to remove link in violation of Commercial Use Policy

post #13 of 20

When I think of big houses I think of one word ; waste.

post #14 of 20

My place was torn down (with the help of a 20,000 pound crane) last week.  I moved out March 2010 until the new place was rebuilt.  I have thought of going down (underground or earth sheltered) for years but California doesn't seem to have many underground missle silos or survivalist domes.  Now with flat land where my home was; I would be tempted to dig a pit and set up a tent.  (That might not go over very well with the 17 other condominium owners).

post #15 of 20

I want a green home,but I have to earn money and plan what it should be.

post #16 of 20

This thread has been running over 2 years!  Landing in a temporary efficiency apartment has been very "green" for me- college dorm "green"!  That condominium complex condemned in 2010 and torn down in 2011 has been cleared, dug out (7' deep), filled back in, leveled and big foundation pits remain.  A cement-looking white powder has been spread out, but waiting for permits has held this rebuild back a lot. 


Whatever the fill is, and that white powder seems to be where the "green" plans ended.  I don't know how "green" it will be- if it ever gets finished hissyfit.gif

post #17 of 20

Thanks for sharing these links

post #18 of 20

[update]  The condominiom complex rebuilding has been underway.  Piles and piles of 2 by 4s. 4 by 6s, particle board, and what looks like Chinese drywall are on site.  Seems to me the only way any of that would be green is if I snuck in some night with green paint drool.gif I have not had any say what materials to use.

post #19 of 20

Great thread.  I really think that living in what we now consider a 'small' house to be one of the greenest and most affordable ways to live.  In North America it seems that an 'average' home is pushing upwards of 3,000 square feet.  We even try to make these homes Green by adding all kinds of expensive technology to them like solar panels, ground source heat pumps, and wind turbines.  Instead of trying to achieve a Net Zero approach, I think its smarter to build and live small.  Smaller houses consume far less resources to build and maintain as well as heat and cool.  Then by adding a few smart, yet inexpensive Green elements like passive solar heating, good insulation, and stopping air leaks you can achieve a very Green home inexpensively.  


Here are some great homes/resources I've come across:

  • Tumbleweed Tiny Houses - These houses are a bit extreme in terms of living small, but it's certainly a novel & affordable way to own your own home affordably and be Green.  
  • Compact Cottage - This is a really cool house plan that's cleverly designed so that you can have 2 full bedrooms or a 1 bedroom with a studio/office. Energy Star certified to boot.
  • LEED for Homes Guide - A great summary of what USGBC's LEED for homes certification program including how the points system works.
  • Passivehouse USA - This is the US Passive House Institute.  A passive house is designed to consume a specific amount of energy and forces the homeowner/builder to really think through their construction methods concentrating on super-insulation, preventing air leaks, and minimizing the need for consuming energy (electricity and heat).  This generally leads to a smaller home, that often doesn't need a central heating system.  
post #20 of 20

You should also take into acccount waterheating system for green homes.

In every house, a lot of energy is wasted in heating water. If you really wish to have a sustainable home, you must have energy efficient water heating systems.

If you have an old water heating system, it would be wiser to replace it with newer models. This is a very great way to save energy. It will also help you save the money spent on electricity bills.

Today the eco-friendly and sustainable homes are in trend. You will easily find several modern homes which are affordable and are eco-friendly.

You can go online to check out the various builders and interior designers who build eco-friendly homes. You must check the different price ranges. Then you must opt for houses which fit in your budget.

You may opt for different types of green homes. Modern green homes have all the necessary amenities. They will help you live in comfort.

You must also make sure you maintain your homes neat. This will ensure that your home won’t have allergens. It will help you lead a healthy life.

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