Going green doesn’t have to cost more. Experts at the NAHB Research Center have identified design and construction tactics that builders have used to minimize the cost premium for green.

Everyone needs to stretch a dollar these days. This is certainly true for home builders, and it’s especially true for home buyers in the entry-level, affordable, or workforce housing sectors. Green building, once widely perceived to be a luxury approach to home building, can be a viable solution for both builders and consumers in the affordable market.

Constructing a green home does come with some added costs, but a lot of builders find that green practices can actually reduce their construction costs and enhance the quality of the homes they build. Many green practices also result in operational and maintenance savings for homeowners.

Using a combination of input from builders participating in the National Green Building Certification Program and results from recent research we did for HUD on the costs and benefits of green affordable housing, the NAHB Research Center has identified seven beneficial practices to consider when building green for the affordable market.

1. Work closely with your suppliers

If you’re new to green building in general or to building green homes with a lower price point, you may want to start your journey by talking with your product suppliers.

Richmond, Va.-based First Richmond Associates has been building quality workforce housing for nearly two decades. Recently, the builder decided that going green with its homes would provide even greater value to customers and set its product apart from the competition. Susan Hadder, president of First Richmond, admits the company didn’t know much about green building, so she let her suppliers know about the new direction they were taking and asked for their help.

“A lot of them were as new to green as we were,” says Hadder, “but they were excited to help us find the best product options available from various manufacturers. It was kind of fun for everyone to discover something new.”

Hadder says she got very quick responses from all her product reps, along with some incentives, which helped her identify what the company needed to get its new green homes certified to the National Green Building Standard (ICC 700). She was pleasantly surprised to find that many of the green product options that would garner points for the home in the certification process were actually an even swap for her in terms of price.

Specifically with flooring options, she found that recycled-content carpet and padding, engineered hardwood flooring, and recycled tile for the bathrooms were all competitively priced with the products she traditionally used — some a few pennies more per unit, some a few pennies less. First Richmond now has two of their Earth-Friendly workforce homes (sales prices range from the $170,000’s to low $200,000’s) Green Certified to ICC 700 by the NAHB Research Center, and the company has plans for more.

2. Look for two-for-one green product benefits

To maximize green benefits while keeping construction costs low, use products or practices with multiple green features. For example, when specifying cabinets or cabinet materials, look for those that have low- or no-formaldehyde content and are made of recycled material. That way, you may be able to gain green certification points for both indoor environmental quality and resource efficiency. While most green rating systems won’t allow for “double dipping” on points (i.e., claiming points in more than one area for the same green attribute in the same product or practice), most will allow for multiple green attributes in the same product to be counted across multiple point categories.

3. Don’t forget about water efficiency

In our work with HUD, we found that water efficiency improvements for both new and renovated affordable projects are commonly overlooked even though they offer a quantifiable benefit to homeowners for little to no additional construction cost. Be sure not to discount the cost benefits for affordable clients of low-flow faucets, toilets, and showerheads, as well as rated water-saving appliances.

As for finding the products at an affordable price, there is a much wider array of low-flow toilets, faucets, and showerheads on the market today than even five years ago, and the most basic models are cost neutral with comparable non-low-flow fixtures. Most major plumbing product manufacturers now offer these products, eliminating the need for costly special orders, in most cases. With bathroom sink faucets, even if your manufacturer of choice doesn’t make a low-flow version, you can buy replacement aerators that satisfy the requirements of most national green rating systems for around $2 a piece.

New construction on the Goose Pasture Tarn in Blue River, Colorado outside of Breckenridge.


4. Consider alternative framing techniques

Some changes in your framing materials or techniques might provide both cost/time savings and a means to an end in securing points toward green certification. For instance, consider using panels or trusses in lieu of site-built systems. These techniques are labor and resource efficient, resulting in less on-site waste and possibly lower labor and materials cost overall. Fabricated systems often create greater thermal efficiency over stick frames. Many green rating systems, including the National Green Building Standard, also award points for use of panels and trusses.

If you want to continue framing totally on site, there are several optimum value engineering (OVE) techniques that can save on material or labor costs, and can generate green points at the same time. Look into options like:

  • Ladder blocking — uses less wood; provides more room for insulation; gets green points
  • Two-stud corners — at least one less stud at each corner; allows for more fully insulated corner; gets green points
  • Switch from 2x4s at 16 inches on center to 2x6s at 24 inches on center — may result in small increase in incremental cost initially, but gets a lot of green bang for your buck.

5. Explore low-cost strategies with design

Green, at any price point, is not accomplished through product selection alone. Many of the other “ingredients” for a green home involve strategies that can cost very little or nothing at all. For example, depending on the orientation and size of your lot, flipping a house plan is a very low-cost, low-effort activity that can result in green benefits like positioning the majority of windows on the south side of a home for passive solar and natural lighting gains.

6. Pay attention to placement and sizing of hvac and plumbing systems

Optimize your duct runs and centrally locate your mechanical room for material cost savings and increased energy efficiency. Even for smaller homes, be sure not to have more ducts or longer duct runs than you need in any part of the house. Using a central return also reduces material costs and is a simple system that can provide adequate circulation and cost savings to both you and your buyers.

Placing all your HVAC equipment, including ducts, in conditioned space within the home is also beneficial. In addition to creating significant energy savings for homeowners, this practice may also allow you to spec smaller, less-expensive HVAC equipment and limit or eliminate the need for additional insulation for the duct system. Many homes today, even those that may be otherwise energy and resource efficient, have oversized HVAC equipment. As the building envelope of your homes becomes tighter and more energy efficient, the HVAC burden is significantly reduced. A smaller system obviously costs less and could offset other green upgrades you’re making in your homes.

For your plumbing system, make sure you have chosen the most efficient design for your purposes. For multi-story homes, consider a stacked system, which will probably require shorter plumbing runs, less piping, and possibly less labor time from your plumbing contractor. Also consider centrally locating your water heater, as a central location makes the average of every run shorter, thereby reducing material costs.

7. Rely on green design professionals

Green homes often require a higher degree of precision in their design and construction to ensure that the finished product works the way it was designed to work, as a whole house relying on interdependent systems for its optimum efficiency and homeowner comfort. Having experts well versed in green products, practices, and protocols can save you thousands of dollars in trial-and-error and callbacks in the long run.

That being said, there are different ways to go about creating your design team. One way is to seek out experts in areas such as mechanical systems, plumbing design, and landscape architecture, with specific expertise in green building practices. Another tactic is to rally those with whom you already work to the pursuit of greener, more efficient homes. Similar to the enthusiasm and excitement Susan Hadder generated with her suppliers when First Richmond began seeking green solutions, you may generate the same kind of interest with your existing construction partners to learn all they can and contribute. Either way, it’s important to get everyone in your construction chain on the same page with what you’re trying to accomplish. Contractors and suppliers that are not informed can create inadvertent barriers to your ultimate success.

More information and technical detail about these techniques can be found on the Research Center’s technical website,www.ToolBase.org.

Created in 1964, the NAHB Research Center (www.nahbrc.com) is a full-service product commercialization company that strives to make housing more durable, affordable, and efficient. The Research Center provides public and private clients with an unrivaled depth of understanding of the housing industry and access to its business leaders.

Source : Professional Builder

Extreme remodel on the Goose Pasture Tarn in Blue River, Colorado

Silverthorne Colorado home

Green has been a buzzword in design for at least 25 years (I am going off of my Earth Day 1992 tote bag that was just unearthed from my parents home). What are some creative ways that you can use renewable materials in your home design?

Smart light bulbs, eco-mattresses, and a Tesla Powerwall that can run a 2 bedroom home on solar are some of the more obvious products available in the sustainable design market. For something less expected, you can also purchase a mushroom mycelium lamp that is painted with non-toxic paint that is grown instead of manufactured. Another unusual selection is

MushLume Trumpet Pendant (Photo credit: Nix + Gerber Studio)

When designing your new construction or remodel, here are some easy choices to make your home a little more green and a little more sustainable with items that you already need:

Trex Decking: made from 95% recycled wood and plastic. This company also employs practices right in their manufacturing facility like eliminating the use of harmful chemicals and reclaiming factory waste.

Milk Paint: “green paint” refers to any paint that is an alternative to petroleum based paints. Milk Paint contains no VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) or additives that can be harmful to the environment. So you can breathe easy knowing that your walls, cabinets or outdoor spaces are working with you and the Earth.

Bio-glass backspash: recycled glass takes just 30% of the energy that would be required to produce it from raw materials. And there are stunning options to choose from!

LEED Certified Windows: these ensure energy efficiency is not compromised when embracing the views from your house.

Virtual Reality and 3D modeling: architect Michelle Kaufman has said “The most green material you can use is one that you never use.” With employing 3D modeling that allows you to go inside of your remodel or new construction, space planning is at a premium and every inch is accounted for. You can experience your home through VR and feel the space rather than just trusting or guessing what it the finished product will be like. Find a design team that will allow you to go inside your house and see your design selections well before purchasing or installation.

For more information on defining renewable vs nonrenewable materials, check out Karen S. Garvin’s article via LIVESTRONG.

Have you incorporated any green design selections in your house?

Green architecture is no trend – it’s here to stay. The benefits of green building are too many to count, from the long-term savings to the environmental benefits. The following are a few green building tips for your home and office:

  • The Home – Consider designing a zero energy home. A zero energy home is a home that produces as much energy as it consumes. This means creating a thermal envelope using thick walls, high-quality insulation and energy efficient windows and doors that will keep heat and cool air trapped inside and prevent outdoor air from leaking in. If you’re looking to renovate an existing home, have the energy efficiency of the house tested with blower door tests and infrared camera scans.
  • The Office – There are a lot of green classifications out there for office buildings, but one we recommend is the Living Building Challenge. Its requirements include that the building can’t contribute waste to the environment, that it generates all its own energy, that all materials be locally sourced, and more.

Be sure to keep these green building tips in mind when designing a home or office. Contact us at Trilogy Builds for additional green building advice.

Choosing to build a net zero energy home can have a huge effect on not just reducing your environmental footprint, but on the cost of your home over its entire lifespan. You may have to invest more money into building a net zero energy home, but that the savings you’ll experience over the home’s life will be well worth it.

Trilogy Shares Ways to Selecting Zero Energy Home Plans

Source: Shutterstock.com

Once you factor in utility incentives or tax credits, your net zero energy home will only cost between 5 and 10 percent more to build than a normal home. The leftover difference will be recouped over the next 5 to 10 years in energy savings.

One of the key aspects to designing a net zero energy house is to build the most efficient building envelop that you can afford. The building envelope is the thermal barrier between the inside of your home and the outside of your home. The more effective it is, the less heat will leak out during the winter and the less cool air will escape during the summer.

Consider the benefits of designing a net zero energy home and contact us at Trilogy Builds for advice on selecting the green home design for you.

Sustainability has become more and more of a hot topic over the last two decades as the extent of the problem has become clearer and clearer. Since each of us contributes to the human impact on the planet, it is up to all of us to be part of the solution.

Trilogy's Tips On Becoming More Eco-Friendly

Source: Shutterstock.com

Use these tips to become more eco-friendly:

  • Replace old, incandescent light bulbs with their compact fluorescent counterparts, which last longer while using up less power.
  • Set up a bin for composting. Something like a trash can with a lockable lid and 20 to 25 holes drilled in its side should more than suffice.
  • For shorter distances, you can either bike or walk. For longer distances, you should do all of your weekly errands in a single trip rather than spread them out over multiple trips.
  • Be sure to turn off your lights as you leave the room.
  • Even something as minor as using reusable bags rather than their disposable counterparts can help.
  • Likewise, purchase a reusable water bottle that can be refilled again and again rather than stock up on plastic water bottles.

Please contact us for more eco-friendly tips about making specific parts of the home more sustainable.

Home automation is something that many people are implementing into their home designs due to the fact that it makes the home more convenient and functional. However, there’s an added benefit to home automation: reducing your environmental footprint.


Source: Freshome

So how exactly is home automation a green building feature? Well, one of the features that home automation can provide is the ability to integrate smart lighting controls that allow you to turn off all your lights at once with the touch of a button, as well as power controllers that will turn off appliances automatically. This makes using electricity much more efficient and helps to ensure that you’re not wasting energy.

Another excellent home automation feature is the occupancy sensor. We’ve all forgotten to turn off the lights when leaving the house at one point or another. By installing an occupancy sensor, you’ll ensure that your lights don’t just stay on until you return. This is because an occupancy sensor can detect if no one is at home and will automatically turn off your lights in an empty house.

Consider home automation as part of your green building design and contact us at Trilogy Builds for more green building techniques.

In many cases, you don’t have to make huge, dramatic changes to your home in order to make it more environmentally friendly. These small changes can help you earn a top green building rating without rebuilding your entire home.

  • Choose double-pane glass windows, which help keep heat inside in the winter and cold inside during the summer. If you have old windows, replacing them with new energy-efficient ones is the simplest step you can take towards a greener home.
  • Recycled denim insulation helps keep your home a comfortable temperature while also reducing waste that is sent to a landfill.
  • Keep solar reflectivity in mind when designing your roof. You will want to choose light colors and possible a special white membrane to keep the heat down in the hot summer months.
  • Instead of building an entirely new outdoor dining area, consider installing a rectangular roof with a glass inlay. This gives the feeling of being outside, but can be enjoyed year-round and requires fewer new materials.

If you’re designing a new home or modifying your current property, contact Trilogy Partners. Ask us how we can help you design the green and efficient home of your dreams.

Green villages are catching on rapidly these days, and for many reasons. Whether it’s in urban or suburban areas, the aim is to make sustainable practices part of the neighborhood’s daily life. Here are a few of the main reasons why eco-villages are trending:

  • Built-in Eco-Design  When you move into an eco-village, all the green design work is already installed for you. In most green communities, rainwater harvesting and composting, wind and/or solar energy are already being practiced. Other green design facets, for instance recycled and sustainable materials are also included.
  • Shared Areas – More Fun and Less Waste  Green villages offer a common swimming pool and playground that reduce the resources and energy that it will take for people to build and maintain them in individual residential property. In addition, these shared areas allow you to mingle with your neighbors.
  • Walk around the Village  One of the things that are very appealing about green villages is that everything is within walking distance. There is no need to worry about a car, gas costs, or finding a parking space.

If you are considering a home in a green village, contact us today for advice and tips about eco-living.

green design

Source: Trilogy Partners

Green home design is gaining in popularity as new home owners require more energy-efficient homes made from non-toxic and sustainable materials.

The standards for green home design and construction have been set by the LEED certification program (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) from the U.S. Green Building Council. The emphasis is on using renewable natural resources to build and lower energy consumption in the home.

Non-toxic materials must be used in construction to qualify as eco-friendly. This includes the use of sustainable woods, bamboo and recycled materials. The recycled elements can include wood and metals from old buildings, used brick and stone. Raw stone and tiles made from salvaged clay and recycled glass can be used for interiors.

New homes in the Colorado mountains can make use of solar energy to lower power costs. Energy Star rated appliances that use less power are incorporated into building and interior design plans.

New homes have good R-value insulation, based on the thermal resistance of the insulation or how well it holds in heat. This is important for Colorado winters.

Trilogy Partners has focused on green building in the Summit County area designing, and building homes that meet Green Building Council standards.

Green buildings refer to buildings built to reduce their impact on the environment. Common examples include buildings with superior insulation, buildings built using sustainable building materials, and buildings filled with efficient features.

Green building design

Source: Freedigitalphotos.net

According to the U.S. Green Building Council, 4.3 million Americans either live or work in a building that has received its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. At present, an impressive 44 percent of commercial and institutional buildings under construction in the United States have received the same, which is predicted to rise to about 50 percent by 2016.

The U.S. Green Building Council believes that this increase is happening because more and more people are realizing that green building practices help them save on costs. Furthermore, as interest continues to grow, the government is beginning to recognize the benefits to the national economy. As a result, the trend is predicted to strengthen in the near future as government support increases.

Prospective homeowners and other Colorado residents interested in learning more about green home design should contact Trilogy Builds to speak to one of our representatives.

965 N Ten Mile Dr. , Unit A1 Frisco, CO 80443
Phone: 970-453-2230

Email: information at trilogybuilds dot com
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