Green Building

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The burning of fossil fuels has become a topic of growing concern. Inefficient energy consumption, with its impact on air quality, has captured the attention of concerned citizens.  Conventional homes and offices, where most americans spend more than 2/3 of their lives, contribute greatly to problems related to excessive use of energy and rising levels of pollution. Across the country, people are responding with creative, green… building solutions and changing our current, traditional building practices.

Michelle Reott, an engineer and sustainable design and construction
consultant, touts the merits of green building.

Michelle: It really comes down to being resource efficient and trying to reduce the environmental impacts of our construction practices.  The california sustainable building task force showed that the  investment in a building is going to pay back at least  ten times over the life of the building.       14 sec

A growing number of governing bodies across the u.s. are actively engaged
in supporting the shift to energy buildings. In durango, co, city planner,
linda lewis:

Linda:  What we have right now in the city of durango is a resolution that was
passed by the city counci.l it affirms the city’s commitment to green
building principles.    So it draws the basic framework to try to
encourage more green building.  Green building is the wave of the
.    :14 sec

Keith walzak, a senior planner with the city hits the nail on the head:

Keith:  builders are realizing that there’s a market value to this     3 sec

Elements of green building may include:  active and passive solar
heating and cooling designs, thermal mass, improved insulation, energy
star household appliances, and built-in recycling features. Alternative building materials like abobe, strawbale and claystraw, require less energy to produce, and make a more energy efficient structure.

Dan baker, builder of copperhead camp in durango, says his project is
one of the area’s first green communities to incorporate many of these green building practices.  He works with the ‘national energy star’ and ‘built green colorado’ programs and gets his incentives from buyers:

Dan:  Buyers have said, repeatedly and strongly, that that’s what they want. Typically, the homes that are energy star and colorado built green rated, tend to perform about 30 to 40% better than a standard code built house.        22 sec

Some of the money saved in energy efficiency can be used to capture the sun’s energy. Willson bloch, a renewable energy systems expert,

Sees real investment values:

Willson:  You’re probably looking at a 10 yr payback on most solar systems.  10%
return on your money is pretty good these days.  But the
payback mainly, in my estimation, is clear skies, clean water, good
health and air that we breathe.  These kinds of savings … How do you
value them
We could reduce the energy consumption in this country by huge amounts.  19 sec

Will Toor, the Mayor of Boulder, CO and the head of the Colorado University Environmental Center, explains how Boulder’s innovative ‘green points building program’ works:

Will: The green points program is designed to insure that every new house that’s built in boulder or every house that’s remodeled, is a green building. And we wanted to do it in a way that would allow homeowners and architects to express their individuality.  So, its not a prescriptive program where you have to do one particular route to green building but rather has a set of options and you have to choose enough options to achieve your point level. So i think that it’s worked
out very well.   It gives people some freedom in what they do but still 
assures that they build buildings that are energy efficient and resource efficient. 

Boulder also has unique ways of encouraging green building:

Toor: We would be looking at incentives such as expediting the permit process or giving density incentives in return for doing the greener building.     

Todd Swanson of the Southwest Natural Builders Guild, sees the benefits of green building from an aesthetic standpoint:

Swanson:  We’re gonna be benefitting because our houses are gonna feel better, they’re going to make us feel better, they’re going to be more soulful.  We’re building with materials that have life, they inspire, they nurture, that’s huge! Society and our environment will benefit.. It’s a win-win!  

Reott sums it up;

I’ve coined the term inter-generational golden rule, which means, do unto other generations as you would have them do unto you.  They are going to inherit the buildings that we leave for them. Hopefully, they are good to be good.  

The good news is that there are plenty of viable, cost effective options available to planners, builders and homeowners for creating energy and cost savings…. Over the long run.

If you would like more information about ‘green building’ please check out our website at gooddirtradio.o.r..g.

I’m Tami Grahan and I’m Tom Bartels.  Thanks for joining us on Good Dirt.. Digging up good news.. For a change.

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