Green home building is set to leap into the mainstream, as three national rating systems will soon be available to tell builders what to aim for, and to allow buyers to judge the validity of claims sellers make about the energy efficiency and green credibility of homes on the market.
For years, the U.S. Green Building Council has been the leading voice setting standards for commercial and government buildings that want to go green. It's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design LEED program sets standards for certified, silver, gold, and platinum-rated buildings that achieve a set number of benchmarks, from using locally derived building materials to the insulating ability of the windows. The council will unveil similar standards for homes in November, and 216 homes have already been built according to its pilot program.
Among the innovative standards, homes will be rated not only based on the materials used, as with commercial buildings, but also their location and orientation. If they reap passive solar benefits from their position relative to the sun, or are situated on a village block close to stores, schools and work, they will be rated more highly than those built to otherwise high standards in suburbia.
The National Association of Home Builders plans to roll out its own green building standards in early 2008. Meanwhile, the federal government's Energy Star program has already rated 200,000 homes. These standards rate homes strictly on energy efficiency a key part, but only one part of the LEED standards. For many people, the energy efficiency as measured in electricity demand, pollution output and perhaps most importantly, dollars is the most important facet of the environmental performance of their homes.
For those who want to aim for a darker shade of green, watch for the specifics on the LEED and National Association of Home Builders standards.
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