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It’s Easy Being Green

It’s Easy Being Green (Unless you’re Kermit the Frog)If you were to compare two houses, one built in 1948 and another in 2004, which house was built better? According to John Wendt, instructor for the Colorado Association of Realtors Housing Construction class, houses built in 2004 far surpass the construction of those built in 1948. Most of us in the class had already cast our vote for the older home, believing the axiom “they knew how to build them in those days.” However, advanced construction and remodeling techniques have improved homes drastically by enhancing energy efficiency and conservation. Anyone who has recently purchased gas for $2.19 per gallon or watched their lawns die because of restricted watering is painfully aware of the importance of conserving our natural resources. Although energy efficiency may not be a buyer’s primary reason for purchasing a home, energy-saving features are becoming increasingly significant to savvy buyers. An energy-efficient home is going to be an asset in the coming years.Some people refer to green building as “smart” building. It saves money, increases comfort and protects the environment. A well-insulated, well-sealed home with efficient windows, appliances and lighting equipment is an absolute must in green building. And these energy-efficiency measures are essential in order to protect our environment. What are the immediate benefits of green features? Consumers can expect: • lower monthly costs • improved resale • greater comfort • less noise• greater durability• more safety• and less maintenance.In John Wendt’s housing construction class, students were asked to describe the age and size of their homes plus the average cost of monthly utilities. The difference in the cost of monthly utilities between homes built before the 1990s and from 1990 on were staggering. More recently built homes, especially those using “green building concepts,” have vastly improved insulation in attics, walls, foundations, doors and roofs. Many of them incorporate durable wall systems with advanced air sealing and moisture barriers. Low-E plus double- and triple-pane windows increase the R-value and reduce heat loss. In fact, low-E coatings that let heat in on cold nights and keep it out on summer days, increase the R-value of the window by 50 percent. Appliances such as dishwashers with an energy-saving cycle, gas clothes dryers or ranges and refrigerators that qualify for the Department of Energy’s Energy Star rating can also reduce monthly costs. Even more important than saving money is how comfortable and safe our homes are. The EPA reports that air in new homes can be 10 times more polluted than outdoor air. Some products, such as cabinets, countertops and shelving, use formaldehyde to glue particleboard together. Floor finishes and paints can also contain harmful chemicals. The appealing smell of a new house may actually be a sign of volatile organic compounds, (VOCs). Alternative products are available to remedy this problem. For example, paints without VOCs and solvent-free adhesives eliminate most of these difficulties and work as well or better than the old standbys. As for comfort, energy-efficient homes reduce “cold and hot zones” with better insulation, high-performance windows, solar window film, centrally located furnaces and good ventilation.As you can see, it may be easy to be green but there’s a lot of ground to cover. In next week’s column I will describe the benefits of resource conservation, explain Built Green Colorado and interview a local architect and builder who emphasize “built green concepts.” Stay tuned.I would enjoy hearing from you. Please call 945-6266 or e-mail me at HomeFocus@SharonRBeattie.com.Sharon Beattie, MRE, e-Pro, is an owner/broker of Sharon R. Beattie Co. in Glenwood Springs.


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