A quality, high-performance home is one that exceeds local building codes. Simply passing local building inspections does not guarantee a quality home — a typical misconception regarding home quality. Passing building codes generally means that a home meets the minimum requirements for life safety and energy efficiency, but municipal inspectors do not indicate a degree of quality in their evaluations. The only stamp of quality that exists for homes are third party verified, quality certifications. These certifications are offered by groups such as the US Green Building Council through the LEED for Homes program, or the National Association of Home Builders through their Green Building Program.
These certifications use the whole home system approach to building. This is based on an understanding of the interrelationships between different components of the home, and how one part of a home will affect all the others in your particular climate. A home is seen not just as a loose collection of individual components, but rather systems and parts that work together to achieve a symbiotic goal. This approach also looks at how you and your lifestyle affect all of the systems in the home. Elements that are considered for certification include: energy efficiency, water efficiency, materials selection, durability, indoor air quality, and others.
These certifications look at a whole range of elements in the home design and construction, and use a point system to provide a score indicative of the level of quality and sustainability of the home. They identify a series of levels that a home can achieve such as: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Homes at Serosun that meet the design guidelines will typically qualify under these ratings systems.
There are other more specific ratings systems that also may also be considered, including the EPA Energy Star Program, which is focused on energy efficiency, and the American Lung Association Healthy Homes Program, which is focused on indoor air quality.
These certifications will cost the home owner some money for the inspections and paper work, but can be well worth their while as they provide third party documentation on the quality and sustainability of the home – verifications that may be valuable at the time of resale. They may also be valuable for the homeowner’s own peace of mind by providing the assurance that their home meets these quality criteria.
You can find more information at the following websites:
NAHB Green Homes: www.nahbgreen.org/
USGBD LEED for Homes: www.usgbc.org/homes/
EPA Energy Star: www.energystar.gov/
American Lung Association Healthy Homes: www.fsge.net/media/Health_House_Builder_Guidelines.pdf