April 18, 2011
Nation's Building News

The Official Online Newspaper of NAHB

Green Building
Green Builder in Florida Chalks Up Savings on Sales Centers

Trends in green home building are literally changing the landscape in Central Florida and providing an opportunity for Lakeland-based Highland Homes to educate its clients on the benefits of homes that are built to be more energy, water and resource efficient.

A member of the Home Builders Association of Metro Orlando, Highland Homes incorporates green materials, practices and concepts into its community sales centers so that prospective customers are able to “touch and feel” what sets green apart from the conventional approach to home building, said Kathie McDaniel, the builder’s vice president of sales and marketing and a member of the NAHB Professional Women in Building.

For example, the company no longer uses St. Augustine grass at its sales centers, she said. Although the grass is common in Florida, it requires a lot of water to maintain.

The grass cost Highland Homes a small fortune in 2008 and 2009 between severe drought and ensuing water restrictions and winter nights of heavy frost, she said.

Each model home had to have its sod replaced twice a year to keep the landscaping presentable to visitors.

Since switching over to Bahia grass two years ago, the company has saved money in water usage and sod replacement.

“Bahia grass is more durable in Florida’s climate,” said McDaniel. “The lawn comes back and continues to look green after recovering from these severe weather conditions.”

As a native grass, Bahia is also less likely to attract pests or bugs, reducing the need for pesticide treatments and resulting in a lighter environmental impact and more cost savings.

Responding to a state restriction limiting outdoor watering to once a week, Highland Homes has also had to change the standard landscaping package for its homes, which required plants to be watered at least twice a week.

“We researched plants and trees to design a new package with hardy, Florida-friendly plants that require less water, and it also limited the number of plants offered with each home,” McDaniel said.

“Most home owners enjoy adding their own plants to customize their exteriors and lawns according to their tastes,” she said, “so Highland Homes saw positive responses to this change.”

Highland Homes also offers its buyers green features such as foam-insulated concrete blocks, radiant barriers, R-30 insulation and low-E double-pane windows.

All of the model centers are also being built with these materials. Along with new lighting packages, this should lower the builder’s energy bills, she said.

Builders attending the National Green Building Conference & Expo on May 1-3 in Salt Lake City can attend sessions to learn how to save money and resources with similar green improvements, including:

  • “Affordable Green Construction and Renovation”
  • “Enhancing Your Building Practice Through an Inspired Approach to Green Building”
  • “Water Efficiency and Infrastructure Cost Savings.”

Information about the conference and details about the education sessions are available on the NAHB website at www.nahb.org/greenbuildingconference.

Register for Green Building Conference, Which Focuses on Value of Green Building, by April 22

Online registration for NAHB's 2011 National Green Building Conference, set for May 1-3 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, ends Friday, April 22.

The conference will focus on “making the value connection” and communicating to prospective home buyers and others the value of green upgrades in their homes.

The conference will feature educational sessions that meet the needs of both relative newcomers and experienced green building professionals, including programs on the EPA's latest changes to the Energy Star for New Homes guidelines, teaching homeowners how to maintain and maximize the performance of their green homes, examples of new systems that can deliver high performance at affordable prices and discussions from industry experts on how to develop and leverage a new green building product.

For more information and to register, visit the Green Building Conference website; or email Chad Riedy, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8225.

'National Green Building Standard’ Available at BuilderBooks.com

The National Green Building Standard,” available through BuilderBooks.com, provides “green” practices that can be incorporated into multifamily and single-family new home construction, home remodeling and additions and site development.

The standard covers lot design, resource, energy and water efficiency; indoor environment quality; and owner education.

Currently the first and only ANSI-approved green building rating system, the National Green Building Standard is the benchmark for green homes.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here.

'National Green Building Standard Commentary' Available at BuilderBooks.com

The "National Green Building Standard Commentary," available through BuilderBooks.com and a companion to the ANSI approved "National Green Building Standard," that provides valuable insight to the intention and implementations of the practices and provisions found in the green building standard.

The "Commentary" is a useful resource for any designer or builder using the ICC 700-2008 as a rating system for developing or renovating residential properties of all types to reduce their relative impact.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

More Than 5,400 People Have Earned Their Certified Green Professional (CGP) Designation

The Certified Green Professional (CGP) designation teaches builders, remodelers and other industry professionals techniques for incorporating green building principles into homes using cost-effective and affordable options.

Earning the CGP demonstrates to clients and peers your commitment to the best and latest in green building practices and techniques. More than 5,400 people have earned the CGP designation to date.

For more information, visit www.nahb.org/CGPinfo.

'Build Green and Save’ Available at BuilderBooks.com

Build Green and Save: Protecting the Earth and Your Bottom Line,” available through BuilderBooks.com, is a comprehensive, easy-to-read reference that shows builders how to identify and select green building materials; implement green construction techniques; explain the benefits of green housing and offer affordable green building solutions to consumers; and use resources wisely and reduce water and energy consumption.

To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.

For answers to questions about National Green Building Certification by the NAHB Research Center, certification to the standard or the guideline sunset, complete and submit the Contact Us form on the NAHBGreen website.

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