Monday, January 14, 2008

Green Building

A great trend that benefits everyone.

Building a new home while dreaming in green
'Regular folks' finding eco-designs more affordable
By Ngoc Nguyen -
Published 12:00 am PST Monday, January 14, 2008

Annica Hagadorn is carefully building what will become more than just a rural dream home, nestled among pine trees near Grass Valley.

Instead of granite countertops or hardwood floors, she's installing more Earth-friendly cork flooring. She'll have solar panels on the roof to generate all of the electricity she'll need – which won't be too much, she hopes, given the energy-efficient appliances and a thick layer of insulation around her water heater.
Even the house, with its southern exposure, is positioned to make the most of nature's lighting and heating.

Like Hagadorn, more and more homeowners and buyers are interested in Earth-friendly dwellings as new materials and designs and big potential savings on energy make "green" homes more attractive to average buyers.

"We're a single-income family. It's not like I make a ton of money – we've never built a house before," said Hagadorn, a lieutenant in the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department. "This is an affordable thing. Regular folks can afford to do it, too."

The cornerstone attractions of an eco-friendly home are savings on energy and water and resource efficiency, according to Monica Gilchrist, an executive with Global Green, a nationwide environmental group advocating green-home construction. Green homes also promote health and comfort, she said.

The idea is catching on. Nationwide, according to the National Association of Home Builders, green building increased 20 percent in 2005.

And to control what kind of home building and renovation can truly be called eco-friendly, the U.S. Green Building Council launched a home-certification program last fall.