Green Building: Builders, Consumers and Realtors -- PrimerV 5.6 ©1996-2005; Building Environmental Science and Technology (B.E.S.T)
Table of Contents
Overview: Resource Efficient Buildings
Green Buildings are really resource efficient buildings and are very energy efficient, utilize construction materials wisely -- including recycled, renewable, and reused resources to the maximum extent practical -- are designed, constructed and commissioned to ensure they are healthy for their occupants, are typically more comfortable and easier to live with due to lower operating and owning costs, and are good for the planet. The overall environmental impact of new building and community development and the choices made when we either reuse or demolish existing structures is very important.
Hundreds of professional home builders have learned how to make their products better for the environment over the last 25 years, and consumers are now able to find better environmental value when they shop for a new home, or conduct a remodeling project. This information should help you learn more about what to look for in a home that is more environmentally sensitive. If you are a builder unfamiliar with the simple approach to green building, this material should give you a starting point for further exploration of the topic, and a better ability to ask the right questions.
The author of this material is Bion Howard. An environmental scientist, and former home builder, Howard has over 25 years of experience in conducting research and information programs aimed at creating better buildings and developments that have lower environmental impacts. This article was developed originally for the US Green Building Council, as a result of work done for ASTM, US EPA Energy Star Homes, EEBA, and The Alliance to Save Energy. Howard is currently a member of US GBC technical advisory groups developing the Energy and Atmosphere criteria for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Programs.
Link to: Bion Howard, Qualifications
Table of Contents: Green Building Primer
Overview (up) What is Sustainability? Higher Environmental Performance Why Buy A Green Home? Basics of Green Homes and Communities Pollution Graphic (US) Green Buildings are Energy Efficient Water Efficiency is Important Green Homes are Healthy Indoors Respect for the Site Reduce, Reuse, Renewable and Recycled: Green Building Watchwords Basic Specs and Programs Ties to Community Green Building Guide Contact B. E. S. T.
Scope of this Document
The overall term of art for this area is "green building" and the use of environmentally sensitive planning, design, specification, labor management, construction, and commissioning processes and technologies results in a holistic building strategy that should result in more sustainable communities, and we hope some day -- the reversal of many of the negative impacts of development upon the planet.
What is Sustainability?
The term "sustainable" is bandied about with great elan these days; so what does it mean?
Paraphrased from a United Nations Environmental Programme Document: '... meeting the needs of people today without destroying the resources that will be needed ... by persons in the future; based on long range planning and the recognition of the finite nature of natural resources...'
In the definition, there is no exclusivity of human-kind, and therefore in broad terms it can represent the protection of resources utilized by all living organisms on the planet. This meaning while broad, does not exclude humanity from utilizing natural resources, whether renewable or fixed, but rather calls for more effective management of our resource utilization so as not to harm the planet or future possible users or uses of our resources.
The concept of "spaceship Earth" comes into play, if one recognizes the potentially finite nature of non-renewable resources -- such as petroleum, coal, nuclear ores, and to be sure potable water. There is just so much of certain kinds of "stuff" (...after Coach John Madden...) that it must be better protected and utilized with more vision. Wealthy developed nations will need to come to terms with developing countries where remaining stocks of such raw materials are located, and in turn the developing world may act to put greater demand upon already strained supplies and utilization methods. This statement applies to our homes, housing developments, communities, cities, and regions and helps the environment at all levels when successfully implemented. We clearly have a ways to go as a society to meeting the intent of this definition. Our homes can be an important tool in making the developed part of the environment, now strongly intertwined with the natural environment, more healthy and less damaging to future generations well being. Environmentally sensitive development at all levels -- housing, commercial, institutional, infrastructure -- appears to be a very promising approach to help achieve sustainability in these terms. Humanity shares a common need for affordable, healthy, durable, comfortable housing and workspaces designed and built to maintain or uplift the human condition. Unfortunately, as a general criteria, this does not yet frequently occur as a rule throughout the World.
Some corporate leaders - such as 3M, Dupont, Amoco, Carrier, Trane, and others -- have begun in earnest to recognize the market value of environmentally sound products and manufacturing approaches. Over the next 10 to 20 years, accelerated movement toward a more sustainable economy and infrastructure will be needed, to head off environmental problems such as global climate change, enlargement of the Ozone "hole," possible food-chain disruption and depletion of ocean fisheries, top-soil depletion and erosion, desertification, and ground water contamination.
Higher Environmental Performance
A "green" building is a much better product. For example, your new or remodeled green home is more comfortable, keeps its resale value, has better indoor health, and is the modern thing to do. When you buy one you take as much as 60% of the "pressure" off the environment compared to the conventional home next door. It's good for your pocketbook through much lower utility bills, good for your community through added jobs, it's good for your employer since healthy homes save on medical bills and sick-leave, and you live with the knowledge that you are helping the earth.
Thousands of these new homes and green remodeling are sweeping into housing markets across the nation. This is not another "craze" -- green homes are for real -- they are available now and here to stay. The designs, materials, techniques and builder skills are available now. And, new standards are being issued by professional societies, the housing industry, and numerous trade groups to help you find products and services that really do help provide a cleaner environment. Buying green products has become enormously popular around the World. Now every day can be an Earth-Day when you live in a green -- environmentally high-performance -- home.
Why Buy a Green Home?
There are many questions consumers have about environmental products. Do they really work as promised? Why bother to look for and purchase an environmental product? Can my shopping decisions really make a difference and help the planet? The answer -- especially for our homes and the products they entail -- is a resounding yes.
U. S. consumers utilize greater resources per capita than any other people World-wide. We about 20,000 pounds (10 tons) per person per year of "active" materials. These include virgin forest products, fuels, steel, glass, cement and plastics. An astounding 90 percent of these of materials becomes "waste" in less than one year according to a 1992 study by the US Office of Technology Assessment (OTA). Residential construction processes are still fairly inefficient compared to other industries according to these OTA reports to Congress.
Home building needs to undergo a process of technological substitution and rethinking to become more environmentally sensitive and sustainable. In a green housing project, many inefficiencies are addressed and overcome, so your home becomes part of the solution. The building industry is acting to incorporate the growing knowledge of green buildings into housing products and services, but consumer demand plays an important role in getting these better products to market.
As a Nation we consume over 2 billion tons of non-durable resources each year. Add to this quantity: non-hazardous industrial waste equaling 11 billion tons per year (OTA said 6.5 billion tons could be reduced by design decisions and enhanced recycling), 1.9 billion tons per year of pollution from automobiles and light trucks, 700 million tons of hazardous waste, about 600 million tons of building related air-pollution, and 180 million tons of municipal solid waste (sewerage sludge, etc.). From the graphic below on annual environmental pollution from major sources in the US, you begin to get the picture. Our productive economy produces these by-products of our affluent life-style, which are threatening our environment.
Luckily, our homes can become a powerful tool that empowers us to help protect the environment. When we live in a green home we encourage reducing waste, implementing recycling, using renewable materials and energy sources, and implementing a better way of producing housing. These are the Four-R's: Reduce, Recycle, Renewable and Rethinking. When our homes are built or remodeled with these important tools in mind, each one becomes an "engine" pulling to help the environment.
Basics of Green Homes and Communities
Selecting an environmentally superior "green" home does not necessarily cost more. But, a green home will directly benefit you by its energy efficiency, ease on our natural resources, high level of comfort, and better value when you sell. Yes, homes can be built and remodeled using inexpensive currently available designs, materials and techniques to greatly reduce their environmental impact. One day, green homes may even help to heal previous environmental damage as more is learned.
Any home or multi-family building can be designed, constructed, remodeled, or renovated -- even demolished -- in ways that have much less impact on the Earth's environment. There are several key things to look for in a new home, or to do now to make your current home better for the environment. You the buyer -- working with your Real Estate Professional -- need also to evaluate how the home fits into its development, and in turn how the development fits with the surrounding community. Even if you demolish an older structure, there are ways to minimize environmental impacts and reuse or recycle the old building components and materials wisely. Green building techniques concern the whole life-cycle of a building, and are simple but very systematic in application.
The following sections contain general recommendations for your green home. Elsewhere in this site listing of some Internet "links" used to find out more about green buildings. As you begin to think about your green home, apartment, condominium or small business, use the following paragraphs as a starting point for getting better basic value and improved environmental performance. Contents
Green Homes are Very Energy Efficient
New homes today are about 35% more energy efficient than those built prior to 1976. However, they need to be more so to deliver the best economics for buyers. Why? Simple really -- your home is the biggest purchase of your life and it should not have the biggest impact on your pocketbook from utility bills, on the environment from energy waste.
An existing homes should be provided with an energy "audit" available at low cost from many utility firms, their "energy services" subsidiaries, or Home Energy Rating Providers. In a quality energy audit or home energy rating, specific measures are identified for maximum savings, unless there has been an energy audit or "home energy rating" performed on the property within the last 5 years [a detailed uniform audit will often be accepted by lenders and utility programs for special financing or incentive programs that make energy efficiency more affordable]. Obtaining an up to date Energy Rating can help you learn the priority of things to do (is attic insulation a better deal than new windows, for example).
New homes should exceed by at least 30% overall (heating, A/C and hot-water demand), the efficiency levels specified in the International Energy Efficiency Code-2003, published by ICBO, Whittier,, CA-USA. or Standard 90.2-1993 "Energy Efficient Design of New Low-Rise Residential Buildings," by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers ( ASHRAE ). Both ICBO/IECC and ASHRAE work closely with housing industry and the US Department of Energy to make sure the energy standards for building codes are up to date, but not overly costly for the average consumer. Remember, the energy standards in building codes are just a starting point.
There are other measures of energy efficiency that provide superior performance, but at somewhat higher initial cost. One such measure is the EEBA Criteria © for Resource Efficient Building developed by the Energy and Environmental Building Association (EEBA) [currently available on line]. Always check with your builder or remodelor to see what sources of information and training they have had on energy efficient construction. Other groups like the Rocky Mountain Institute, Alliance to Save Energy, Union of Concerned Scientists, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, and Natural Resources Defense Council all support much more efficient home energy standards than just meeting code.
Very basic materials, building techniques, and designs distinguish an energy efficient home. Sealing up air-leaks like construction cracks and holes is very important. Increased attic, wall and foundation insulation, and installing high-performance windows and better doors completes the building "shell." Using efficient electric lighting and plug-in appliances, and upgrading to high efficiency furnaces, heat-pumps and boilers further reduces energy waste. A floor plan and building orientation designed to admit winter solar heat, ample day lighting, and avoid summer-time sun further reduces energy waste. Such a "package" may save up to 65% in your green home versus a typical homes' utility bills. As with many quality oriented projects, energy efficiency upgrades perform best when installed as a package by professionals. However, some projects like insulating your attic, putting on weather-stripping, and installing a digital clock-thermostat are simple and low-cost do-it-yourself measures.
Performance Verification -- Designers and builders are advised to obtain a "uniform home energy rating" - HERS - from an accredited provider (see National RESNET ) in order to document a properties' energy efficiency for consumers, lenders and code-officials. An important part of HERS rating is ensuring the home and it distribution systems are sealed and insulated effectively, and that actual construction meets design intentions.Financing programs -- called Energy Efficiency Mortgages (EEM's) -- linked to home energy ratings (or enhanced audits) are coming to market backed by US DOE and US EPA technical and marketing programs. Integrating energy improvements into a mortgage quickly helps you pay for these measures. The concept is simple: improve the home to meet an energy rating, and the cost of the most economical improvements can be included in the mortgage (or refinancing) as long as the average monthly energy savings are greater than the added monthly mortgage costs. Contents
Green Homes Use Fresh Water Efficiently
Water is one of our most precious natural resources. Homes use hundreds of gallons each day which could be conserved or saved as "gray-water" to be recycled to water gardens. In a green home, simple and low-cost measures are taken that reduce water use by about half compared to homes constructed in the 1980's. Water saving is important since in many areas fresh water resources are being rapidly depleted by development; with shrinking reservoirs and dropping aquifer depths where wells run dry.
Low-flush toilets, well insulated hot water piping, low-flow shower heads and faucets, and dishwashers and clothes washers that have "water-miser" features are all important to lower home water use. How the hot water is produced is important too. One way to cut down running the tap to get hot water is to install a main solar heated tank to provide year-round warm water, and then use a instantaneous or "tankless" water heater near each point of hot water use. Another useful option is using plumbing planned so that the shortest possible length of pipe runs from the water heater to each hot water using device or tap.
Landscaping using native plants with high drought resistance (Xeriscape™) is another great way to lower water waste outdoors. Most green architects and home builders have learned what plants flourish with little or no watering, or get assistance from their local university or agricultural extension service to select plants needing little water. Selecting a drought resistant grass, and using lawn chemicals and fertilizer sparingly also reduces watering needs. Grass that is heavily fertilized needs two to four times the water to survive, and may wind up with a weak root system. Contents
A Green Home has Good Indoor Environmental Quality
Indoor environmental quality is a mixture of the air your breathe, the lighting from indoors and outside, noise levels, and even the electromagnetic fields produced by electric power-consuming devices. All these factors contribute to our health, comfort and a sense of well being at home. Bad smells, excessive noise, humming from lights or appliances, and pollutants (particles, spores, volatile gases or unburned fuel) all can lead to irritation, poorer health, reduced productivity and in extreme cases, injury or death.
The basic design, building materials used, and operating efficiency of your green home can help greatly reduce the threat to you and your family of indoor environmental problems. A green home is designed, constructed, and can be easily maintained to be free of unhealthy levels of indoor air pollutants -- such as Radon gas, excess moisture, mold and mildew, formaldehyde, passive tobacco smoke, particles and dust-mite allergen (feces) -- that can impact occupant health. Once you move in, use the information provided by your green builder or remodelor to properly maintain healthy indoor environments.
In existing homes, owners should check for lead-based paint and have drinking water tested in case lead solder was used to fit the plumbing. Inexpensive kits are widely available for home testing of Radon, lead levels, VOC, and drinking water. Also, requesting the seller or remodelor certify that no Asbestos was used in the home or in any projects done at your home carries value into the future in terms of health and resale value. In general, states have been gradually moving toward greater disclosure of indoor pollution sources -- like Radon, Lead and Asbestos -- over the last several years. Your Realtor will be able to advise you on local regulations, and can help you obtain information on these matters from sellers or your new home builder.
Once major sources of air pollution indoors are addressed, it is still a good idea to ventilate homes to ensure good comfort and health. American homes have largely been "accidentally" ventilated by leaks through which air flows due to wind pressures and temperature differences. This sometimes results in stuffy or unhealthy conditions. Today, better energy efficiency reduces the leaks and hence "accidental" ventilation may not be enough for comfort. Low cost ventilation techniques include a wide range of fresh-air systems that boost indoor air quality while not adding very much to energy bills. In very cold or hot/humid areas air-to-air heat recovery ventilators ("heat-exchangers") provide ventilation at reduced overall energy cost since they reclaim heat or cooling from stale indoor air being exhausted outside. Builders trained on energy efficient construction have been informed how to ventilate homes better with these systems, which can be "tuned" to your climate for least cost and best performance.
If there are allergy sufferers in the household, installing a higher efficiency air-filter element, or an "electrostatic" air filter device, can reduce their discomfort. But one of the biggest advantages of energy efficient construction for allergy sufferers is the lower air leakage, and hence fewer spores, pollen grains and less duct that gets in from outdoors. According to EPA and the CPSC such filters may not be necessary in most homes, once the sources of indoor pollutants -- especially particles, smoke, and dust-mite allergen -- are reduced. Air filters do little to protect against radon gas, pesticides, formaldehyde or other chemical agents.
Specific healthy home information including recommendations you can pass on to builders, designers and remodelors is available from groups like the American Lung Association, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), as well as the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. Contents
Green Buildings Respect the Site
Your green home has been designed with greater respect for the natural resources on the land. The well designed building site lets natural energy sources work for you -- such as solar heating, natural cooling breezes, and placement of vegetation and water bodies near by. Existing homes will benefit by landscaping too, since planting's can help compensate for poor building orientation, shelter existing homes from Winter winds and reduce glaring Summer sun which adds to your air-conditioning loads. These steps are free in the planning phase, and research shows they can significantly reduce energy used for air-conditioning and heating homes. Experience designing, building and testing "passive" solar heated and cooled homes indicates simple no-cost / low-cost planning of orientation and window placement can save 20% to 35% on winter heating bills and also can reduce air-conditioning loads.
Designers take advantage of shading and breezes from adjacent buildings and trees, and from carefully considering the surface colors of nearby the home (walkways, parking lots, etc.) to reduce summer temperatures. Planting new trees, shrubs and ground covers to reduce cold winds washing heat from home surfaces while admitting ample sunlight reduces heating bills and brightens a home in Winter.
In Summer, deciduous trees along a Southwest to Northwest aspect can reduce the impact of solar heat gains during hot afternoon hours. Studies at Florida Solar Energy Center and Arizona State University have shown building orientation, overhangs and shading, surface colors and textures, and proper planning of landscape vegetation can greatly reduce air conditioning loads. Contents
Reduce Environmental Impact Using Recycled, Renewable, and Reused Building Materials
Many construction materials -- such as cellulose and some mineral fiber insulation, steel "stud" framing, manufactured and structural wood products, and sheathing for building exteriors -- are now made from of recycled, renewable, and reused materials in concentrations ranging from 25% to nearly 100% in their overall content of recycled materials. Where performance, durability, energy efficiency and cost trade-offs appear reasonable, using such materials boosts overall energy efficiency, can greatly benefit the environment, creates jobs and markets for such materials.
Green building designers and builders also become familiar with local sources of construction materials, such as wood, insulation, windows, concrete block, brick, gravel, etc. Using local materials whenever possible reduces excess energy use from transporting materials long distances and helps local economies by increasing jobs and keeping cash-flows and tax revenues in your community.
The building products manufacturing industry is working quickly to provide better means of informing consumers on environmental products through standards and uniform assessment techniques. Unfortunately, there currently is no single source that "rates" a green home overall. However such metric's are in development by groups like the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST [Dept. of Commerce]), in collaboration with business and industry trade groups. In the future the US Green Building Council may issue a "LEED Homes" program; work was underway in early 2003 on such a development.
Non-profit groups like Green Seal and the US Green Building Council are developing specific detailed rating approaches and approve individual products for their environmental performance. Local jurisdictions have developed voluntary programs that help train professionals to boost the environmental performance of homes and remodeling, while promoting the market for green buildings to consumers. Developers are catching on too. There have been numerous new projects started in Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Texas and Colorado where developers require home builders and designers to meet specific green building criteria when they construct new homes on their properties. Contents
Basic Specifications and Programs:
Even if your area does not have a green builder program yet, specifications can be added in your home construction or professional remodeling contract that emphasize use of recycled, renewable and reused materials. You can ask that contracting documents that builder, remodelors or developers use include a voluntary model specification like:
"...contractor shall make their best efforts to:
a.) employ recycled, renewable, and previously used but structurally sound (reused) building materials wherever feasible and permissible;
b.) minimize waste, spillage, pilferage, spoilage, and misuse of building materials;
c.) maximize energy and water use efficiency by exceeding local energy standards in building code for site planning, thermal insulation and mechanical systems, and installing a mechanical home ventilation system;
d.) reduce indoor levels of Radon gas and formaldehyde emissions by following industry and US EPA guidelines on indoor environmental quality;
e.) provide consumer operating and maintenance information for best performance in this project; and
f.) provide thoughtful environmental planning through specification, job site management, and labor supervision."
Green Building Programs:Builders and remodelors will increasingly engage in national or local programs that provide either ratings or certifications that energy or environmental goals have been met. Some of these programs include meeting voluntary training standards, entering into contracts or "memorandum's of understanding" or other documentation that quality levels will be maintained and consumers protected.
There are basic technical criteria that have been reviewed by B.E.S.T., and show some emerging consistency despite not having a national set of guidelines or standards as yet (3 / 2004). Learn more by linking to B.E.S.T. "Resources" page and selecting the web-based PowerPoint (tm) show titled: "Technical Criteria for Green Building Programs" presented at the EEBA national conference (invited).
One clear advantage of buying a home produced by a builder, or retaining a remodelor, that is signed onto one of these programs is the future credibility of the projected energy savings and environmental value in the home when you later sell the property. Your buyer knows the value is there, and the Realtor has less explaining to do since documentation will be available covering the added features in the green home. Contents
The Green Home and Development Ties into the Community
How many times have you seen advertisements for "affordable housing" only to find it located miles from essential health services, schools, stores, public transportation, or even lacking in fire and police authority? The costs of coping with an "affordable" home in an outlying area requiring long commutes, and big driving distances to shopping, schools, doctors, and recreation sites can cost you over $9000 per year according to estimates by NRDC.
Housing affordability is an overall consideration of all the costs of ownership, not just those costs leading up to putting the key in the front door after closing. Lower first-cost housing that forces you to drive more, requires expensive new utility infrastructure (which you pay for in higher taxes) or is isolated by distance or lack of local social and community services is not really "affordable" when you add it all up. Living in such areas takes a toll on scarce human energy, our emotions, and spare time.
Worse for the environment is the excess fuel-energy required for transportation. The vehicle miles-traveled by persons coping with life in fringe areas escalate compared to well planned communities. In many developing areas political pressures permit developers to avoid contributing large shares of direct costs for adding "infrastructure" -- the roads, bridges, water mains, sewers, power-lines -- needed to provide essential services to you new home.
In theory this added infrastructure will be developed (long) after the new housing is erected, using funding from the new tax base (your tax dollars). Thus, your new "affordable" home may suffer power outages, traffic congestion, poor water quality, lack of civil services, and other disadvantages while you have to pay higher taxes to compensate for poorly planned development. All these factors can hurt the environment through energy waste, hasty planning decisions, and long lasting impacts on wetlands and open spaces.
Considering a closer location, better knit with community services, can actually save money in the long run, even at higher initial home prices. Unfortunately, drive-distances and other costs of living in fringe areas are not yet recognized factors accounted for in qualifying mortgages. But, unnecessary high monthly commuting costs take money out of homeowner's pocketbooks that might otherwise pay the mortgage, buy food, or save for college education. Looking for a closer-in or well planned community where schools, libraries, places of worship, and safety services are closely integrated with housing development has environmental advantages. Living with walk-able distances to shopping and community activities can make a large difference in your quality of life.
Social studies have indicated residents of environmentally planned communities happier, healthier and more productive. Added benefits are lower crime rates and better environmental quality which result due less dependence on cars (which have been shown to isolate people) and the greater sense of "belonging" to a community. Contents
Residential Green Building Guidelines
This guideline contains an overview of what makes a Green Building work with the environment, and in favor of consumer health, comfort and economy. This listing is only to be used as a general guide since there are numerous specific technical considerations, that are used by building industry professionals to meet such criteria, that could not be included here for brevity.
1. Emphasize the four "R's" via sound design, construction and building commissioning without compromising structural durability, indoor pollutant levels, ventilation, building code requirements, or marketability, including:
a. Reduce -- lower quantities of building materials, resources, and embodied energy are used
b. Reuse -- construction materials are reused where practical and structurally sound
c. Recycle -- recycled materials are used, and home is designed for recycle-ability
d. Renewable -- energy from natural sources and renewable building materials are emphasized.
2. Use Energy, Water and Resource Efficient design, specification and construction methods:
A. Building thermal envelope thermal and air leakage levels are superior by at least 20% to levels cited in the International Energy Conservation Code - 2003 (managed by ICBO) or ASHRAE Std. 90.2-1993. (A minimum 30% improvement in energy used for heating, A/C and Hot-water, is recommended by EPA/DOE "EnergyStar" Homes.)
Resources:International Council of Building Officials / IECC-2003American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers
B. Mechanical home ventilation is provided, designed to be occupant controllable
C. Ducts and pipes are of minimal length, well sealed, and located inside the home
D. High efficiency heating and air-conditioning equipment ("right" sizing, high unitary efficiency, effective controls, system gets commissioned)
E. Efficient service water heating, including consideration of solar water heating
F. Major appliances selected with DOE "Energy-guide" labeled usage in most efficient quintile (best 20%) of appliance "family" annual comparison. Another important gauge of appliance efficiency is whether it obtained an "EnergyStar" designation; ask for it!
G. Minimize potable water use of both hot and cold supplies, and outdoor uses for landscaping
H. Install energy efficient electrical lighting, and design floorplan to maximize interior daylighting;
I. Respect site conditions to considers passive solar and natural cooling
J. An operating manual is supplied so owner/occupant knows how to maintain good performance
3. Healthy indoor air quality (IAQ)(meets or exceeds US EPA voluntary criteria)
A. Radon/soil-gas entry is prevented through good design and construction
B. Low-VOC emitting construction, adhesives, finishes are employed
C. Low Formaldehyde emitting manufactured wood products are installed
D. Use carpeting that is tested and labeled for low emissions, installed along with low emission padding materials
E. Steps are taken in design and construction preventing excess moisture to avoid rot, mold and mildew
4. "Affordable" Community prefer building locations have connectivity with:
A. mass transit, bus, light rail;
B. community infrastructure that reduces vehicle miles traveled;
C. local health and social services;
D. walk-able options for recreation and light shopping needs;
E. accessible bike paths, etc.
5. Development creates a sense of well being in its neighborhood structure providing a sense of community.
6. Building remains reasonably affordableand cost effective while accomplishing criteria one through five;
A. overall added mortgage cost per month is generally offset by savings on building operating energy, commuting costs, avoided health claims from indoor air pollution, and better mental health due to sense of community and fewer hours spent commuting); and
B. over the useful life of the structure (50 year useful life for life-cycle analysis purposes) the building produces no net economic loss to owner(s) when evaluated against traditional competing free market investments (bonds, stocks, etc.) for the funds employed to upgrade the building to meet these criteria.
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