Sunday, June 14, 2009

Green Building-Does it Have to Cost More?

Van Millwork has been running a series of seminars in construction, and the two I attended were excellent. The second, on sustainability, was quite educational. I learned a great deal about options in lighting and how they are constantly increasing, solar heating systems and doors made from recycled materials.

The most surprising part of the presentation, however was the overall message. I had thought, up until now, that going green was always a more expensive proposition. Those who chose to do it were usually willing to pay more in order to make less of a negative impact on the environment.

The presenters stated that with careful planning, however, green remodeling or new construction does not necessarily have to cost more. With government rebates and reduced operating costs, one could institute greener options and not increase costs.

They stressed that the most important aspect of green building is to develop a unified approach. They strongly recommended having a design team that works together to create the green building plan. This might include the contractor, insulation folks, solar heating expert, lighting designer, etc. The importance of creating an integrated plan cannot be stressed enough.

It's one thing to make the decision to introduce some green elements to your construction project by introducing energy efficient windows, appliances, fixtures etc. It's quite another to set out from the outset to create a green structure.

So, as a builder, first decide your goal. Then, familiarize yourself with all of the green options out there and affiliate with experts in geothermal heating, solar, lighting, products and appliances. If necessary, get an expert involved who knows what it takes to acquire LEED certification. Make sure everyone is on the same page and understands the impact of different choices. Familiarize yourself with government rebates, tax benefits and operating costs. Consider using software that models the various inputs involved. Then, go green and reap the benefits!