Common Questions About Green Building

May 10, 2017 adamb@evidently.com

Building a home from the ground up is a huge undertaking, but it can be incredibly rewarding on many levels. Having complete control over the home you’re living in, right from the moment the foundation is laid, gives you incredible freedom. It also imparts a significant responsibility to invest in as many green building options as your budget allows.

Why the sudden focus on green building, anyway? There are several factors at play:

  1. Increased energy costs. The price of fossil fuels has been steadily increasing over the past two decades, and there doesn’t seem to be any sign of them returning to lower levels. 
  2. Climate change. More and more, we’re experiencing extreme weather phenomena, and many green building techniques aim to stave off as much negative impact from the environment as possible.
  3. Building science. Architects and builders understand more and more about how to build efficient homes with materials that are both safe and effective.

The fact is, there’s never been a better time to build a green home from the ground up, because there’s never been more knowledge on the subject that’s readily available. With that in mind, how do you know where to start? First, let’s talk expenses.

Does It Cost More to Build Green?

You would think this be an easy “yes” or “no” answer, but the truth is that it’s a bit more complicated than that. Sometimes, the upfront cost can be more, when you choose the environmentally-friendly option. But if you look at the cost analysis long-term, you can see that the item in question is going to cost less, overall.

The perfect example of this issue is insulation. Sure, you’ll see the traditional insulation materials may cost less to purchase and install than a more energy efficient insulation such as Icynene spray foam. The difference is that, over time, traditional insulation can be compromised to become less effective, whereas Icynene spray foam insulation continues to perform as an energy efficient air barrier, often paying for itself within 3-4 years, thanks to savings on monthly heating and cooling bills.

Does My House Need to Look Modern or Weird?

It’s a fair question, since so many environmentally-friendly, or green, homes are often pictured as strange-looking in movies. It’s also generally the weird homes that make it into the photo shoots when there’s a feature in a magazine or newspaper. 

The fact is, your home can look completely normal or completely bizarre depending on your preference, because when you’re using an insulation that’s designed to be highly energy efficient, like Icynene, your imagination is the limit, when it comes to design. This is due to its ability to be sprayed into tiny nooks and crannies, where traditional insulation couldn’t reach, and expand nearly 100 times its original size, easily filling any small space where it is applied.

In short, you could build an Edwardian manor and it could still be a green building.

How Can I Be Sure A Product For My Home Is Actually “Green?”

This is no small task. Everyone is trying to market themselves as green these days, preying on the lack of comprehensive knowledge most people possess, when it comes to sustainable design. It’s important to be wary of greenwashing. Here are 3 things to ask yourself to ensure that the products and services you’re choosing for your home are actually the best environmental choice:

  1. Does it help improve my home’s energy efficiency? Choosing an insulation material that’s partially made from recycled material may sound good, but if it’s not reducing your home’s energy consumption at all, is it reducing your home’s carbon footprint, in the long run? Spray foam insulation like Icynene can be used throughout your home to create an effective air seal, which can lead to lower heating and cooling bills and reduced energy consumption. 
  2. Is it safe and healthy for my family? Not all spray foam insulations are created equal. Icynene spray foam insulation is 100% water-blown and has been tested extensively for off-gassing VODs and general air quality, after installation.
  3. Will it last? Ultimately investing in a “green” product for your home that just needs replacing in a few years, due to it not standing up to environmental wear, doesn’t make the product all that green, does it? Icynene spray foam insulation can resist bulk water, making it a great choice in hurricane-prone regions, or anywhere that flooding is a concern.

Talk to a licensed Icynene spray foam insulation contractor in your area, to find out more about how to maximize your new home’s current energy efficiency and all the other reasons to choose Icynene.

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