Over the course of the past few months I have been researching a number of green building and energy efficient processes and certifications. I am coming to realize that the best home in terms of sustainability and energy efficiency is most likely a result of a combination of a few different guidelines or certification methods. I’m not sure what the right mix is as of yet, but here are some of the top rating systems we have been consulting on this project to date.
LEED for Homes – LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is probably the highest profile rating system around created by the US Green Building Council (USGBC). It can be controversial but it is the one rating system that not only tackles energy efficiency, but other sustainable issues like water efficiency, location, recycled materials and education. It is also the only 3rd party verified green rating system around for the time being.
Energy Star Qualified New Homes – Energy Star is another US government program (US Dept of Energy) that addresses the energy efficiency of a home. A 15% improvement in energy efficiency over code homes is required to achieve this certification.
ANSI National Green Building Standard – While this standard is not yet official and it has received criticism for being catered towards the building industry, it looks somewhat similar to the LEED criteria and a vast improvement over the majority of tract homes being built today.
Passive House (Passivhaus) – The Passive House standard comes to us from the crafty Germans. The basic goal is to focus on super insulating the house so that is extremely easy to heat and cool, resulting in a roughly 90% increase in energy efficiency over standard homes.
Zero Energy Building (ZEB) or Zero Energy Design (ZED) – ZED or ZEB is an international term that applies to homes that are designed to achieve a net zero energy use or carbon neutral status. The designs rely heavily on passive heating and cooling and some of the more advanced homes utilize a double shell envelope system.
Lately the Passive House standard of building has been most interesting to me in relation to this project as it seems to have some very simple yet effective measures for reducing energy demands dramatically for a small cost.
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