It’s been said that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. While that may be the case in some professions, professional builders realize that staying marketable and profitable requires the study of new and state-of-the-art construction practices to set their company apart from the rest, despite the temptation to stick solely to the building practices they know. Fear of lost profits, time-intensive training, and clients not buying in has some builders hesitant to invest in sustainable practices.
One of the trends among builders now is being a “green” builder. So what does that mean exactly? Jeff Schofield of Green Choice Custom Homes and
Vice-President of the Greater Savannah HBA clarifies, “’Green’ is a stamp placed on everything from water conservation to energy efficiency and leaving the smallest carbon footprint possible.” Schofield points out that many sustainable home building features are already code; it’s simply marketing those aspects with intention to clients that can set a builder apart as an environmentally-conscious builder.
Jeff Dinkle is the owner of Eco Custom Homes, a certified LEED-AP, and a Certified Passive Home Consultant and Designer (CPHC and CPHD). He adds: “Sustainability in building is best achieved by builders who are forward thinking.” Specifically, Dinkle says building a home with codes three to four years away is key. By completing an Earthcraft certification, LEED certification or by attending Passive House courses, builders can begin implementing now what will be standard practice in ten to fifteen years. As Dinkle confirms, “Many of the “green” aspects of building are already in the process of becoming law; it’s just a matter of time before they are
mandatory law” [see ICC Energy Code for 2018]. Preparing now to understand and to implement the coming regulations will yield great benefits in the future as forward-thinking builders acquaint themselves with all-things-green.
Both Georgia professional builders, Dinkle and Schofield agree that constant builder involvement is paramount in the planning process of new construction. Schofield acknowledges that being “consciously aware and creative” in the building process helps achieve a higher level green home for clients. With clients who are on a strict budget, learning to implement cost-effective measures is vital, yet, as Schofield explains, “The builder is ultimately responsible to seeing that subcontractors are properly framing, insulating, and caulking. Having ‘green’ products on the job is not enough; making sure those sustainable products are properly installed will have the greatest long-term impact on energy efficiency and cost savings.” The Home Innovation NGBS Green Partner™ Builder’s Handbook agrees: “While it is important to incorporate green practices and materials in the design stage, including practices during the construction stage and the building operation phase helps to ensure that buildings designed to be sustainable and high-performing are built and occupied in a sustainable method. “ Homeowners’ investment in sustainable products will only be lauded to friends and family when installed correctly. This will have a significant impact on referrals and potential re-sale value.
So what are some practical tips to building an environmentally-friendly home? Our featured green builders, Jeff Dinkle and Jeff Schofield, offer this list of advice:
1. Orientation matters. Georgia homes should offer the most windows to the south and east sides of the home. The key is capitalizing on sunlight in the winter months to reduce heat costs.