The Green Built Parade of Homes features seven new houses with green elements that meet the guidelines established by Green Built North Texas. “The [homes] look mainstream, so they appeal to a wider variety of consumers,” says T.W. Bailey, president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Dallas and a member of Green Built North Texas.
The organizers also wanted to keep the price of the homes lower than the cost of past Parade projects to show that green elements are affordable. “Typical Parade homes cost $1 million-plus. These homes cost $600,000 to $700,000,” Bailey says. “We want homeowners to garner ideas from the Parade. They can go back to their homes and change their light bulbs to compact fluorescents or hire a knowledgeable contractor to re-seal ducts to prevent energy loss from leaks,” he says.
Green Built North Texas (www.greenbuiltnorthtexas.com) is a voluntary partnership of home builders and industry supporters committed to creating awareness of resource-efficient homes. Green Mountain Energy, a title partner of the Parade, will offset the estimated carbon dioxide electricity consumption of the houses and donate a comparable amount in renewable energy credits.
Due to the unseasonably hot summer in Texas, utility bills have increased and sticker-shocked homeowners are looking for ways to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, notes green builder Chris Miles.
Though the Green Built North Texas program currently concentrates on new construction, the group plans to offer a remodeling program as well. “We are working on a program and asking for grant funding to improve 2,500 existing homes,” Bailey says.
In the meantime, the group encourages remodeling contractors to review the new-construction guidelines for elements that translate to existing homes. The Green Built plan highlights several areas of construction: site management and waste recycling, water efficiency, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, materials, and homeowner education. Miles points out, for example, that remodelers can recycle construction waste, apply advanced framing techniques, and use low-flow toilets, faucets, engineered lumber, advanced framing techniques, and Energy Star appliances.
Educating homeowners is a very important aspect of the partnership's guidelines. “This drives the dialogue between the buyer and builder,” Bailey says. “You can educate consumers and let them decide what they want for their home.”
It's also crucial to teach new homeowners about how to use and maintain the products and systems in their homes, and to let them know that green elements can provide an added incentive for resale.
Bailey compares green building to technology. “If you don't embrace technology and learn how to use it, it will leave you in its trail and you will not be a successful businessperson. Five years from now, we won't be building green, it will just be the way we build homes,” he says.