March 13, 2013

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It Isn't Easy Being Green

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It Isn't Easy Being Green

Deconstructing Utah's Green Homes

Dan Sorensen

March 13, 2013

  • Green Materials: When people think of green homes, they often think of things that add to energy efficiency. But indoor pollution is another serious consideration. Green builders use low VOC (volatile organic compound) paint and materials. This ensures occupants breathe the cleanest air possible—free of any pollutants or toxins.
  • HVAC: HVAC systems are another way companies are greening homes in Utah. Naturally, systems become more energy efficient as technology improves. Incorporating a furnace that is 95 percent efficient, or more, is a surefire way to get the most heat for your buck. However, properly sealed ducts are just as important, as they keep air from escaping while in transit to your vents. When upgrading or replacing a current system, the most efficient appliance will pay off in the long run, and many come with bonus rebates.
  • Geothermal: Some Utah homes are actually being equipped with geothermal techniques to heat and cool the air that is pumped into the home. These systems pump a liquid 200 feet down, into the earth, bringing it to approximately 52 degrees. The liquid is then used to heat or cool the air, depending on the season.  
  • Recycled Waste: The EPA estimates 170 million tons of waste was created through the construction and renovation of homes in 2003. Anyone who has driven through a neighborhood under development has seen the massive dumpsters in front of the houses under construction. Utah’s green builders go through the extra effort to recycle these materials. 

A Green House: What to look for when house hunting

There are many components needed when building a green home, which is why many builders forgo this extra effort. For buyers, asking about ENERGY STAR ratings, HERS (Home Energy Rating System) scores, and actual utility bills, is an effective way to identify how efficient a home truly is.

“To build an ENERGY STAR 3.0 home, the house must be 30 percent more efficient than one that is built to code,” says Tyler Kukahiko, vice president of sales and marketing at Mountain Vista Homes. “And that’s a new home. Compare that to a home built in the ‘60s, ‘70s or ‘80s, and you’re talking about savings that jump up even higher.”

While these energy-efficient improvements and features may cost home buyers a little more on the front end, the savings over the life of owning a home will pay off drastically and improve resell value—not to mention make you feel good about saving money, and the environment.


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