National News: Cost-Effective Green a Trend to Watch

The key to the mainstreaming of green is to make sure that consumers understand the value of green upgrades – and exactly how cost-effective that sustainable construction can be in the long run, according to four green home building professionals who spoke at a press conference on Wednesday at the National Association of Home Builders’ International Builders’ Show.

Builders, remodelers and product manufacturers are beginning to green their processes and incorporate more energy-, water- and resource-efficient features. They are learning how to reduce waste on the job site to save enough money to pay for these upgrades – and help ensure that the builder makes a profit, said consultant Steve Bertasso, who helps builders achieve these measures.

Green building has truly reached the tipping point because it’s moving out of the custom home market into the realm of high-production homes, he added. “This year is going to be a big change in the production [building] environment,” Bertasso predicted. “Consumers are asking questions they didn’t ask two and a half years ago and contractors are making better decisions.”

The key to reducing the nation’s energy use is to green existing homes, said Philip Beere, who is remodeling distressed properties near Phoenix’s new rapid transit line. Adding insulation, improving the ventilation and air conditioning systems and replacing turf grass with landscaping more appropriate to the Southwest’s desert climate doesn’t cost much more than a traditional remodel, but “retrofitting these homes to be green is a good solution,” he said.

Connecticut home builder Jim Pepitone called himself a “late adopter,” but one who has finally seen the green light – and believes the rest of the industry can’t be far behind. Builders need to educate consumers on air sealing, the importance of right-sized heating systems and good insulation, and the advantages of rooms that can serve more than one purpose so the home can be smaller and less expensive. “We need to make sustainable attainable,” he said.

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