Thursday, September 18, 2008

Home, green home

Sep 4th 2008 - From The Economist print edition

...Indeed, a green-home boom is getting under way, thanks to rising energy prices, new standards (the European Union’s Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, Britain’s Code for Sustainable Homes and California’s Green Building Standards Code, to name three recent examples), and improved technologies. Many of these technologies have been around for a while, but they are now ready for the mainstream. In 2007 McGraw Hill Construction, a research firm, reported that 40% of all renovation in America included some green features, mostly windows and heating/cooling systems. The company predicts green homes will account for 10% of all building starts in America by 2010, with new green homes worth $20 billion in that year. When housing arises from its torpor, it could find itself transformed.

Greenery can be hard to define, so the emergence of credible certifiers is clarifying things. The most stringent form of certification is the German Passivhaus standard, which applies to buildings that reduce their energy requirements so dramatically—by 90% compared with standard construction—that they can forgo heating and cooling systems. In 2007 the United States Green Building Council released a version of its LEED green-building standard that applies to homes...

...And for more than a decade, America’s Environmental Protection Agency has offered Energy Star for Homes, a label indicating specific features meant to reduce energy use.