Energy Efficiency Tops ‘Green’ Needs

A new survey conducted for the NAHB confirms that a desire for greater energy efficiency drives consumers to choose a green home.

When 800 registered voters were asked how important certain items would be in their decision to either purchase a new green home or remodel their current home to be more green, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of consumers polled said that “reduced energy costs” would be the most important. The second-highest scoring reason, at 55 percent, was “because it would be healthier.” And 49 percent of those surveyed say it’s “the right thing to do for the environment.”

The survey was conducted in mid-October by national polling firm Public Opinion Strategies.

“That’s a pretty strong showing for altruism,” said Neil Newhouse, partner with Public Opinion Strategies. “But cost is the overriding concern. That’s something that all green players — builders, regulators and advocates — need to keep topmost in their minds.”

“Green building is the home buyer’s best defense against soaring energy costs,” said NAHB president, Brian Catalde. “The NAHB National Green Building Program paves the way for authentic yet cost-effective green building.”

The voluntary program, based on the 3-year-old NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines, is set to launch Feb. 14 at the International Builders’ Show® in Orlando.

“New technologies, advances in building science and materials for insulation, windows and other components mean that homes are significantly more energy efficient than they used to be,” Catalde said.

The NAHB National Green Building program is being launched in cooperation with the NAHB Research Center. To be certified under the NAHB program, homes must meet energy-efficiency levels that are at least equivalent to Energy Star®, the federal Environmental Protection Agency program that has enjoyed great success in the marketplace. Since 2000, 750,000 homes have earned the Energy Star label, indicating they are at least 15 percent more efficient than required by current energy codes.

The NAHB National Green Building program will link dozens of successful state and local voluntary green building programs with a national online scoring tool for builders and verifiers and extensive educational resources. “A flexible, regionally appropriate approach is preferable to a unilateral approach that does not take into account local issues, architecture or geographic differences,” Catalde said. “This program opens up the opportunity for all our membership to build green.” |

Kitchens & Baths

Appliance Shipments Rise

Shipments of major home appliances, continuing to be impacted by the downturn in housing, slid again in October 2007 and were running behind shipments at the same time a year earlier, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. The Washington, D.C.-based AHAM reported that October 2007 appliance shipments were down 1.6 percent compared to October of 2006. Year-to-date shipments for the first 10 months of 2007 were down 5.9 percent compared to the January-October time period of 2006, AHAM noted. Shipments were off in all major kitchen-related product categories, including cooking, kitchen cleanup and food preservation, the association added.

Green Remodeling

NARI Touts De-Construction and Recycling

The destruction of buildings annually generates 125 million tons of debris, according to the Florida-based Deconstruction Institute.

Why recycle during a remodel? As the above figure suggests, remodeling amounts to 136 million tons of waste annually, according to the EPA, which in turn makes up 20 percent of the waste in landfills. Green remodeling focuses on reducing this waste during remodeling and reusing materials whenever possible, as 85 to 90 percent of materials thrown out can be recycled. Recycling benefits the environment by conserving energy and natural resources, reducing air and water pollution, and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. By reducing greenhouse gas emissions, recycling helps reduce the affects of global warming.

“It’s always good to keep ‘green’ in people’s peripheral vision,” said Chris Donatelli, CR, CKBR chair of the NARI’s Green Education Subcommittee. Donatelli believes remodelers should develop a “mind-set to recycle everything they can.”

Green Remodeling

Recycling & Deconstruction Ideas from NARI

Home improvement contractors can recycle a number of items at jobsites, including lumber, sheetrock and metal, as well as cardboard, cans and bottles, says Donatelli. Other recyclable remodeling products include plastic, glass, batteries, and some cabinets, doors, windows and roofs. Remodelers can also recycle most sinks and tubs.

Recyclable products from construction and demolition waste from jobsites can include concrete, dirt and plant materials. Contractors can haul concrete to recycling plants, which ground it down into gravel or base rock for use in future building projects. Unpainted wood can be ground down and mixed in with existing soil to help it nourish plants and tree roots.

Remodelers can also recycle pallets, fluorescent tubes, paper packaging and architectural drawings.

The benefits of recycling include “diverting a ton of material from landfills,” Donatelli said. Recycling “helps people save money and make improvements.”

A remodeling project can generate between 70 and 115 lbs. of waste per square foot, and between 85 and 90 percent of construction waste is recyclable, according to David Johnston and Kim Master’s Green Remodeling: Changing the World One Room at a Time. This creates a huge potential for the reuse and recycling of waste from remodeling.

Demolishing vs. Remodeling

If demolished, a typical 2,000-sq. ft. house would create 10,000 cu. ft. of debris, or 127 tons. Although the cost of disposal varies depending on location, an average of $25 per ton of waste would total $3,175 for demolition of a residence. However, if a house were remodeled instead of demolished, the owners would divert 80 percent of the waste that a demolition would incur, and would save about $2,540 in disposal costs. Deconstructing an average wood frame house of 2,000 sq. ft. could produce 6,000 bd. ft. of reusable lumber. Deconstruction is the “disassembling [of] buildings to generate a supply of materials suitable for reuse in other products,” according to Johnston and Master.

If lumber is salvaged from older buildings and reused, it can provide affordable materials for remodeling or constructing new buildings. Approximately every 3 sq. ft. of lumber saved from an older structure can become 1 sq. ft. of a new residence. If deconstruction became the new residential demolition, recovered wood could be used to build 120,000 new affordable homes annually. This could save 33 mature trees, 10 acres of pine planted annually, which would occupy the size of seven football fields.

Recycling building materials also conserves energy. “Embodied energy” is the total amount of energy expended during the creation of a building and the products that comprise it, according to the Deconstruction Institute. The amount of embodied energy contained in an average, 2,000-sq.-ft. home, is 892 million Btu, the equivalent of 7,826 gal. of gasoline, enough embodied energy to drive an SUV 5.5 times around the earth.

Extracting raw materials from the earth consumes more energy than converting many old building materials into new, and using recycled products instead of manufacturing new ones can decrease energy consumption for steel about 50 percent and for plastic more than 90 percent. A 2,000-sq.-ft. home contains about 4,700 lbs. of steel and 770 lbs. of recyclable plastics. If carefully deconstructed and recycled into new products, they can preserve 59 million Btu of embodied energy, equal to about 513 gal. of gasoline.

About 5 million tons of carbon equivalent are annually released into the atmosphere as methane gas. This is the result of the burying of about 33 million tons of wood from demolition and construction debris in landfills, and anaerobic microorganisms decomposing the lumber. This is the equivalent of emissions from 3,736,000 passenger cars.

Total greenhouse gas reduction from recycling the 5,174 lbs. of steel and 1,830 lbs. of plastic in an average single family home would be equal to the yearly absorption of carbon dioxide by 114 trees.

For each ton of wood remodelers reuse, they avoid creating 60 lbs. of greenhouse gases from the development of raw lumber into a usable form for building.

“If a remodeling contractor seeks to develop knowledge and skill in the area of green remodeling, the NARI Green program will help realize those goals. This program thoroughly educates the contractor who desires to focus on environmentally friendly remodels,” Donatelli said.

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) is celebrating the launch this fall of NARI’s Green Remodeling program. It offers remodeling contractors across the country a unique opportunity to incorporate cost-saving and earth-sustaining green concepts into their clients’ homes.