This article is about what kind of payback people can expect from going “Green,” and some of the related statistics. The HOME ARCHITECTS, pllc, would like to share some information with the public about the financial, local and geo-global implications of building a more energy-efficient and environmentally responsible house.
Building Green Payback & Statistics
Many people may publicly agree with green building principles, because it is politically popular to do so, but privately, some clients have asked Rand Soellner, AIA (chief architect at the Home Architects TM ): “Why should I go “Green?” Isn’t it just a bunch of popular hooey? Won’t it cost me more to build a Green residence? Are there any financial and other tangible benefits to me and my family that I can enjoy in the near, medium and long term?”
The short answer to these timely questions is: “Yes!” Rather than first starting with recitations of voluminous studies and scores of references, Soellner thought you’d appreciate getting the “bottom line” at the top:
By building “Green” according to Rand Soellner’s methods you should realize these benefits:
30% to 50% Energy Consumption Savings
If you are looking for immediate, near-term payback, your monthly electrical, gas and other energy bills will be much less than conventionally built structures, by 30% to 50%. This is attained by Soellner’s ultra-tight hybrid insulation specifications that yield near-top performance for less cost. That’s money left in your pocket each month that otherwise would literally be thrown out your windows, doors, walls and roofs. These benefits are obtained from dozens of items that Soellner builds into his clients’ projects, including higher than standard insulation “R” values and better quality insulation in the right places, double-pane insulated Low-E glass, more insulative window and door frame materials (and maintenance free as well), solar shading of large glass areas through intelligent space planning, solar orientation of the walls and spaces, installation of natural ventilating features (like Soellner’s chimney effect light monitor “lantern,” and many others).
Up to 40% Water Use Reduction
If you pay electricity to run a potable water well, or if you have a commercial source of metered water for which you pay a bill each month, you can expect to pay up to 40% less of what you would have likely paid for your water use in a conventionally built house. Soellner recently has taken additional CEU (Continuing Education Units) regarding Green Restroom design and has learned that there are new higher efficiency bathroom fixtures that consume substantially less water than previous devices.
For instance, new HETs (High Efficiency Toilets) can be had as a single or dual flush fixture that has an average flush volume of 1.28 gallons per flush, or 20% less water than most toilets being sold today, which are typically rated at 1.6 gpf. Dual flush toilets can operate at 1.6 gpf or 1.1 gpf. These devices are state of the art (which might sound funny for a toilet, but they are major source of waste water and have deserved re-engineering to improve their performance to respect our nation and World’s clean water supply). They must pass engineering performance and operation standards (ASME 19.2/CSA B45.1 and pass 350 grams in maximum performance testing). There are also compressed air assisted toilets to further enhance efficiency for lower water usage.
HELFs (High-Efficiency Lavatory Faucets) have a maximum flow of 1.5 gallons per minute (gpm) and a minimum of 0.8 gpm. They also must meet stiff engineering requirements of ASME 112.18.1/CSA B45.0. A standard lavatory faucet consumes 2.2 gpm. A HELF is therefore at least 32% more efficient than most of today’s conventional faucets. Electronic faucets, such are used in more commercial restrooms these days, can also help save as much as 70% water use.
High-Efficiency Shower Heads (HESH) is the latest from the EPAs (US Environmental Protection Agency) WaterSense program. 2.0 gpm is the HESH maximum flow rate. And once again, there are strict engineering requirements to make people feel and be properly rinsed by the HESH. It is not enough to simply restrict the flow of water, the pressure and pattern and delivery of the water pattern has to perform as well or better than previous conventional showerheads to induce people to use them. With a HESH, hot water use in a normal shower experience can be reduced from 50 gallons to 20 gallons or less.
That’s a huge savings of potable water, thereby reducing the burden on our aquifers,water treatment plants and our wallets. As the cost of obtaining clean water begins to rise, those with less consumptive water-efficient houses will begin to appreciate the fact that they used a Green Architect like Rand Soellner Architect, the HOME ARCHITECTS TM to design their projects.
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70% of Solid Waste, Recycled Construction Debris
Green Building design and construction methods reduce the amount of waste generated on the construction site and over the life of the building. Furthermore, Soellner’s Construction Administration specifications require 2 smaller dumpsters on site instead of one large one. One dumpster is used for conventional landfill trash, the other is used for recyclable items that can be reused. When you realize that there is a mountain of debris created, about equal in volume to the house being built, this policy starts to make sense. There is a lot of embodied energy in construction waste; we might as well reuse about half of that mountain of debris to save energy in remanufacturing processes.
35% Reduction of Carbon Emissions
Commonly referred to as Green House Gas. By using more energy conservative and logical, cost-effective purchasing strategies, the carbon footprint of your house can be drastically reduced. For instance: use as much local building materials as possible. It would be a huge carbon expenditure, for example, to truck heavy rocks all across the USA for use in your house, when you have perfectly good stones in your own County, State and Region.
Construction Cost Premium
A more energy-efficient, Green residence will cost more to build. Some builders ascribed from as little as 1% to over 5% for the added features and materials above conventional construction. All the above advantages, both good for your Country, your planet and your pocketbook, for such a minor additional cost. That’s good sense.
Some contractors and other entities have pegged this timeframe of economic payback as anywhere from 12 months to 20 years, depending on what features, materials and systems you have incorporated into your residence. This is something that you will need to review in detail with your architect, builder and energy provider. You can count on one thing: LOWER OPERATING COSTS in your new, super energy-efficient house than if you had done nothing.
Do you know the one thing that you can count on about electrical and water production costs? Yes: they will continue to escalate. To what level? Who would have thought that the 29 cent gallon of gasoline in 1968 would have increased in cost to nearly $5/gallon in 2012? How much money would you have saved over the years, had you had an architect create a super-energy efficient house for you back then and still be enjoying those savings now? Only time will tell. But the handwriting is on the wall: when you next begin to have a new house designed and built, make it much more efficient than what mainstream requirements indicate.
Some More Statistics on the Yearly Consumption of Power & Materials
Homes and building in the USA consume about 30% of the raw materials we have.
Houses and building in the USA use about 36% of the energy resources we have.
Homes and buildings in the USA create about 30% of the greenhouse gases being emitted.
Houses and buildings in the USA consume about 65% of all electricity generated.
Homes and buildings in the USA consume about 30% to 12% of our potable water.
Houses and buildings in the USA create about 30% of our waste byproducts.
The point is: houses and buildings use a lot of our energy and other resources, which are dwindling. By engaging residential architects to design more energy efficient, greener housing, we can hopefully improve on those rates of consumption and thereby preserve our American quality of life for decades yet to come, for the rest of our lives and those of our children and their children.
Rand Soellner Architect, the HOME ARCHITECTS TM 1-828-269-9046.
So, when you are looking to obtain your new residential design, seriously consider the multi-faceted benefits of building Green. It all starts with a great design, from a highly-experience residential architect.