Date: 14/11/2018
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How can I make my older home Green?

Eddie Hutton had this video produced to help homeowners learn how to save energy, improve the environment  and make older homes go "green."

Saving energy and helping the environment that's what the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is all about. They developed the LEED green building certification and rating system.    LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.  The LEED ratings describe the degree to which a building reduces negative environmental impacts and improves the health and well-being of its occupants. There are four rating levels based on the number of points achieved: from Certified (which starts at 40 points), to Silver, Gold, and Platinum (which requires a score of 80 or more points).

LEED-H is the rating system used for homes.  There are many categories outlined in a scorecard, such as:

  • Location and Transportation: This includes proximity to a variety of transportation options, like bicycle paths and mass transit.
  • Sustainable Sites: This includes rainwater management, using natural land cover, and protecting nearby habitat.
  • Water Efficiency:  This includes reducing both indoor and outdoor water use, and tracking water consumption via water metering.
  • Energy and Atmosphere: This includes refrigerant management, energy metering, and optimizing energy performance by using renewable energy sources.
  • Material and Resources: This relates to the construction techniques, which must make use of environmentally-certified or recycled building products, sourcing raw materials locally or regionally, and reducing the amount of waste stored in landfills.
  • Indoor Environmental Quality: This covers things that affect air quality, lighting quality, acoustic design, and surroundings, such as ventilation, low-emitting materials, and making use of natural lighting and heating.

The scorecard also rewards things like innovation, adaptability, and regional (geographic) priority areas. 

Is your home a candidate for renovation and a LEED-rating?  You know, LEED is not just for new construction!  Maybe you want to start small.  Perhaps your home has a detached garage you'd like to renovate to be used as a vacation rental.  After all, we hear that Nashville is a destination site for many travelers! Having a Platinum LEED rating would sure serve as a differentiator when marketing your rental!

Let's look at ways a house could attain a LEED rating.  First is its location: ideally, it would be in a neighborhood with bicycle paths and an MTA bus route, and close to parks, downtown and shopping. Add a geothermal heat pump for the HVAC system.  That way you can use a desuperheater to capture waste heat to provide hot water.  LED lighting is an ideal way to reduce energy consumption because LED lights use only about 1/5th the power of incandescent lights, so the payback interval is shorter than any other energy saving approach. Plus, since LEDs don't radiate heat like typical incandescent bulbs, they reduce the load on the home's air-conditioning system.  Insulation is also very important in reducing the cooling and heating costs.  The best product out now is a soy-based spray foam insulation, which is not only eco-friendly, but is resistant to air, rodents, insects, mold, mildew, moisture and reduces sound transfer.

Download a copy of the LEED Scorecard and start your Green Home project today!