Useful Green Terms
MLS and Basic Green Terms
Energy Star: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star® Qualified Homes is national program that qualifies homes based on energy efficiency. In addition, Energy Star® labeled appliances typically exceed federal minimum efficiency standards by 15-20%. Currently, in our MLS you may search for the following Energy Star® labeled items: hot water heater, windows, HVAC, and appliances.
LEED: (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a rating system that promotes the design and construction of high-performance green homes. A green home uses less energy, water and natural resources; creates less waste; and is healthier and more comfortable for the occupants. Benefits of a LEED home include lower energy and water bills; reduced greenhouse gas emissions; and less exposure to mold, mildew and other indoor toxins. The net cost of owning a LEED home is comparable to that of owning a conventional home.
EarthCraft House: EarthCraft House is a green building program that serves as a blueprint for healthy comfortable homes that reduce utility bills and protect the environment. The aim of the program is to help home builders be leaders in smart growth management and environmental stewardship.
Tankless Hot Water Heater - The US Department of Energy estimates that about 14-25% of energy consumed by families are due to water heating, with average of $200 to $450 yearly on operating costs for a tank water heater. Tankless units heat the water only when you need it, take up less space, and typically have a longer life span. Energy Star labeled units can qualify for up to a $1500 tax credit starting in 2009.
Programmable Thermostat - The average household spends more than $2,000 a year on energy bills — nearly half of which goes to heating and cooling. Homeowners can save about $180 a year by properly setting their programmable thermostats and maintaining those settings without sacrificing comfort.
Reflective roof coating -Reflective roof coatings, also known as albedo coatings, are products applied to roofs to reduce solar heat, especially in areas with hot, sunny weather for a good part of the year. Because they can reduce surface temperatures by up to 80ºF (about 45ºC), these products also have a big impact on cooling costs.
SIP - Structural insulated panels are a high performance panelized building system. SIPs create an extremely well insulated and air tight building envelope. An efficient building envelope is a critical component in an effectively integrated green building.
ICF – Insulating concrete forms (ICFs) are rigid plastic foam forms that hold concrete in place during curing and remain in place afterwards to serve as thermal insulation for concrete walls. The foam sections are lightweight and result in energy-efficient, durable construction.
Kilowatt Hour: The amount of power the customer uses is measured in kilowatt hours (kWh). The average household in the US uses about 8,900 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year. Most electricity in the US is generated by burning coal. Emissions from coal burning are among the top contributors to green house emissions and other toxins such as mercury in to the atmosphere.
R Value: R Value is a measure of insulation’s ability to resist heat traveling through it. The higher the R-value, the better the thermal performance of the insulation. Properly insulating your home is one of THE MOST important things you can do boost it’s energy performance.
U Value: Measures the rate of heat loss, or how well a product prevents heat from escaping. The lower the U-factor, the greater a product’s resistance to heat flow and the better its insulating value. An example of where you would want low U value is in your home’s windows.
Passive Solar heating – Passive solar design is a system for designing and building a home so that it can use the sun to address a fraction or all of it’s heating needs. In the northern hemisphere south-facing window orientation for winter heat gain is an example of this system. In general this is not an additional cost for the builder to include in a home.
Active Solar – unlike passive solar systems, active systems use mechanical devices (such as fans and pumps) to distribute solar heat or cooling effect from a collector. Examples of these types of systems are solar water heating systems, photovoltaic systems (produce power off the grid), solar heating and cooling systems.
Sealed ducting – Roughly 40% of a home’s energy consumption is from the heat and air system. Up to 30% of the air conducted through the ducting often leaks at the joints and poorly connected ducting. Ducting can be sealed with approved tape (not duct tape) or mastic.
Low Flow plumbing fixtures - Low-flow fixtures and aerators use high pressure and aeration to produce a comfortable, pleasing flow without using nearly as much water. Because of this strategy, low-flow fixtures are a win-win situation.
Dual Flush toilets – actually have two different buttons depending on your “business” and it uses 0.8 and 1.6 gallons of water, depending on the flush. The Half Flush and Full Flush technology can reduce water usage by up to 67% compared with the traditional toilet that uses 2.9 gallons in a single flush.
Low VOC Paints and Carpet – Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs include a variety of chemicals, some of which may have short- and long-term adverse health effects. Concentrations of many VOCs are consistently higher indoors (up to ten times higher) than outdoors. Low VOC paints and carpet therefore, have less or none of these compounds.
ERV – Energy Recovery Ventilator – Energy recovery ventilation systems provide a controlled way of ventilating a home while minimizing energy loss.
Green Roof – vegetation/garden – A green roof is a roof of a building that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and soil, or a growing medium, planted over a waterproofing membrane. Because green roofs reduce the surface temperature of a roof by minimizing heat-absorbing surfaces, a green roof helps to reduce energy costs inside the building.
Cellulose insulation (post consumer recycled content) – cellulose is blown in and typically is a natural wood product and recycled newspaper. Fire-retardant chemical additives give the material a class-1 fire rating, making it a very safe products. Because of its density, it has a higher R-rating than and outperforms many common insulation products.
Spray Foam insulation - Spray foam insulation is non-toxic and typically has a lifetime guarantee. It expands to about 100 times its original volume, so it fills in air gaps unlike standard fiberglass insulation. Over time, as the house expands and contracts, so will the foam insulation. This eliminates cracks and spaces for warm air to escape. Xeriscaping – refer to landscaping and gardening in ways that reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental irrigation. It is promoted in areas that do not have easily accessible supplies of fresh water, and is catching on in other areas as climate patterns shift.
Rainwater collection system – Most rainwater collection systems are designed to capture rainwater from the roofs of buildings. The water collected can be used for irrigation, laundry, hygiene, or even potable water, depending upon the materials used and the treatment undertaken by the homeowner.
Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER): The SEER is the most widely used measure of a central air conditioners energy efficiency. Air conditioners manufactured after January 23, 2006 must achieve a SEER of 13 or higher, which reflects a 30% increase in the federal minimum efficiency level.