What Makes a House Planet Friendly?

As everyone tries to jump on the “green” bandwagon it’s getting more and more difficult to figure out what is green.  As I wrote in a previous post, greenwashing abounds throughout the environmental and sustainability movement. So how does a home qualify as being “green”?  Are there certifications or standards to which a home must adhere?  Can an older home be retrofitted to have features that are considered environmentally positive.  In this post we’ll look at three homes and see why each of them can claim features that are planet friendly.

When a new home is built the builder can decide as Patty Shields did, to build the greenest home possible.  The Metro Green Home in Arlington, Virginia is the first home in the state certified by the US Green Building Council (USGBC) with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum designation, the very highest possible. LEED for Homes is a nationally recognized third party certification system whose rigorous process has become the primary standard by which homes are rated.  The Metro Green Home features geothermal heating and cooling, supplemental solar heating and hot water and exceeds all Energy Star standards.  The annual heating and cooling bills are  projected to be less than $500 for the whole year making it a net zero energy house . The home’s building materials are pre-cut, sorted and recycled so that less tan 20% of the construction waste goes landfill.  The house was oriented for maximum natural light and passive heating.  These are just a few of the features that make the Metro Green Home an example of the greenest of the green. Click on the the link above to learn more about this

In DC a 1925 row house has was lovingly restored by the owner with the intention of “conserving natural resources and creating a healthy space”.  The owner  restored the home’s original heartwood pine floors, thus both reducing waste and retaining natural beauty.  All the appliances and the windows are Energy Star rated. The paint, sealants and adhesives used in the renovation are all low in volatile organic compounds.  (VOCs) The bathrooms were renovated with low flow shower heads  and the home has outdoor rain barrels to conserve water. In addition to saving energy with windows and appliances, the home will save even more energy because of the recycled denim insulation.  A home with a high walk score automatically gets planet friendly points because walking to shop, run errands or catch a bus or subway reduces gasoline dependence.  This home is walking distance to two metros stops as well as shopping, restaurants and entertainment.

Sometimes the only thing on a homeowner’s mind is to sell their home. But say there are improvements that need to be made  to get the home ready to sell. If their real estate agent  is trained to advise them on making planet friendly improvements as well as look for features in the home that are already planet friendly, the home stands a good chance of selling more quickly and for more money even in a down market.  I recently listed a cute cape cod in Arlington. It needed some spiffing up to get it ready to sell.  The house was painted throughout with low VOC paint. The master bedroom was recarpeted with eco-friendly carpet made from recyled plastic bottles (sounds weird but really beautiful). The kitchen and sun room floors were replaced with vibrantly colored marmoleum, a natural flooring that is not made from petrochemicals, but from linseed oil, rosins and wood flour.  The house already had some great energy saving features like six ceiling fans, radiator heat, and double glazed low-E windows.  This home also has a wonderful self-watering vegetable garden–talk about eating locally. It’s walk score is high since it’s walking distance to metro and one of the most popular destinations for socializing. The house, by the way, sold in three days.


When you’re ready to buy or sell a home, call me, your going green real estate advisor.

Gayle Fleming, Keller William Realty

 www.goinggreenhomesva.com              gayle@goinggreenhomesva.com        703-625-1358   

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