Green = Many Things

Where is it written that a green-built home must be small?  Monthly energy bills determine a home’s carbon footprint, not its size.  In fact, a 10,000 square foot house with zero energy bills is far greener than a 1,500 square foot energy hog.

I would argue that a large home built with no wood, using concrete, steel, and polystyrene (a petrochemical product) is far greener than a smaller home built with wood.  This is because the concrete house can last 300 years with no maintenance, while the “earth-friendly” wood house is subject to mold, mildew, rot, termite and fire damage (despite being recycled, reclaimed, salvaged, or sustainably grown FCS-certified).

The periodic replacement of inferior building material, such as wood, is far more wasteful to our natural resources than a concrete house built to last.  Durability trumps embodied energy.

Green building encompasses five elements:  durability, energy efficiency, water efficiency, indoor air quality, and the environment – not just the environment alone.  A fact sometimes lost on many advocates of green.

Dueling theories aside, there is one thing on which all building science experts agree.  To save money every time, place resources into the exterior building shell envelope, not into mechanicals or renewables.

Lee Hitchox – Taken from BMail; Builder Magazine

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