Attempting to Live a Sustainable Lifestyle in St. Louis

Environmentally friendly decisions are tough

Green certification won’t make the budget July 18, 2008

Filed under: Design,Green Rehab — budint @ 2:34 am
Tags: , , ,

It wasn’t always top of mind, but I just always assumed that we’d go through the green certification process when this project really got rolling. However, since i’ve sought out more details and truly understand the costs, I’m sad to say that we won’t be green certifying; at least not right now. I say ‘not right now’ because it sounds like we can heavily document the project w/ pictures and apply later, but will we really go through that? Doubtful!!!

What we were looking at specifically was the NAHB Green Building program and also the Energy Star Home certification. The NAHB is the one we looked into back in January and felt was pretty reasonable for what we needed. The Energy Star component is the foundation of the NAHB certification and provides you w/ computer modeling, site inspections and a blower/air leakage test. Again, it’s cheaper (almost half the cost) than LEED and a bit easier to conform to, but still includes some pretty stringent tests.

The decision came down to 1) How much does it cost? and 2) What will it get us right now? When you’re in the budget building mode, you’re sometimes stuck w/ having to make your decisions for the here and now. So the cost was in the $600-$1,000 range and there was no near-term benefit from our perspective. Especially when you consider putting that money toward a more efficient dishwasher, laundry, A/C or even toward more insulation. It just seemed that we wouldn’t see the benefit until we went to sell the house and since that could be in 20yrs; our city could have worked these sustainable guidelines into the basic residential building codes. Then the ppl in the future would be laughing at us saying “wow, ppl actually had to spend extra money back in the old days to get their home green certified”. (wouldn’t that be a hoot?)
With all the above being said, we’re still not changing how efficient or sustainable the house is being built. Certification or no certification, we’re still shooting for something far, far better than the average home.

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One Response to “Green certification won’t make the budget”

  1. balambert Says:

    I hear you on the return on investment concerns. It is hard to look out 20-years when there is a significant need here and now.

    There can be significant costs associated with the LEED and Energy Star certifications. I have not talked with too many contractors who work under both umbrellas. One thinks the other is lame and the other thinks their’s is too expensive.

    The most important thing you can invest in is ensuring you’ve established the best possible air flow, air pressure and vapor barriers possible. Preferrably all on the same construction plane or area. This will contribute to ensuring you have good air quality, moisture control and allows the structure to breathe.

    Also, the quality of your insulation will help tremendously on the control of these concerns. It costs a little more up front, but when properly installed dense pack cellulouse and expansion foam are the best at this. Fiberglass batts act more as air filters than they do insulators.

    Good luck,


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