A Houston home built in 1958, was recently transformed, not just to the lifestyle demands of 2011, but to the new green standards outlined by The Greater Houston Builders Association (GHBA) Green Built Gulf Coast (GBGC) program. The home, located in the Meyerland area, was a remodel project by KeechiCreek Builders. It received a Bronze certification under the commended National Green Building Standard (NGBS). Green Built Gulf Coast is a green building program recently released by the GHBA. The program is geared specifically for the unique environmental conditions that define the Texas Gulf Coast area including heat and humidity.
The National Standard provides an accredited criterion for rating the environmental impact of design and construction practices to achieve conformance with specified performance levels of green residential buildings.
Keechi Creek, owned by Brandon Lynch, a member of the GHBA, worked with the owner to incorporate a variety of features. After extensive remodeling, performance testing and inspections, the home obtained a 32% reduction in energy usage and a 37% reduction in water usage.
The home was renovated with materials that were not only classified as green, but were also aesthetically appealing. “A 1958 home became a blend of beautiful green, in-demand features and methods such as recycling the original wood flooring, bamboo floors, Pella windows, natural stone, water plumbing and energy star lighting fixtures with green features not immediately visible such as R-19 insulation in the wall, R-40 in the attic, new R6 duct work and 16 SEER A/C units, tankless hot water heater and polyurethane piping,” said Lynch.
The overall project included adding 1,000 sq. ft. of living, a complete renovation of every room including two baths, adding a third bath, incorporating a new two-sided direct vent fireplace and adding gutters and area drains to control runoff to meet the City of Houston’s requirements.
“Updating and enhancing this home,” said Lynch, “resulted in a beautiful, healthy environment for the homeowner. At the same time, it was a huge step toward being environmentally conscious.”
Lynch went on to address some of the myths associated with green building. “People have expressed concern that green building is expensive. On a price per square foot basis, it can cost more to build with sustainably harvested materials, to eliminate PVC, to crank up the level of insulation and put in more insulation. But that doesn’t mean that the overall cost has to be more; with good design you can get just as much living out of fewer square feet. With cleaner, simpler lines you can eliminate a lot of surface area. Build a little less but build it better and it doesn’t have to cost more.”
Another popular myth is that traditional products work better than green. “This myth seems to go back to the day when low volume flush toilets were first introduced,” said Lynch. “True, those didn’t work very well, but that was well over a decade ago, and they work just fine now. In fact, according to Bill Gauley, the “Flusher King”, the current 1.6-gallon flush toilets work better than the old ones they replaced.
“It is true that new technologies have a shake-out period, and that early adopters could have problems. But most of the green products we are talking about are no longer new.
“Another myth has been the notion that building or remodeling a green home is complicated. “It all begins with a tight building envelope,” Lynch explained. “The rest of it is not very exotic or akin to rocket science. It can be amazingly simple, build it smaller, use high quality materials chosen for sustainability and efficiency, not for the fad of the month.”
Lynch concluded by addressing the myth that ‘It’s all about saving energy’.
A homebuyer once asked me “how do bamboo floors save energy?”
They don’t, but not everything green is about energy, it is also about the health of the people living in the home and the ability of our planet to support its manufacture. Some green choices have nothing to do with energy, and everything to do with health and sustainability.
*Under GBGC, the GHBA has adopted the National Green Building StandardTM ICC 700-2008. The National Green Building StandardTM allows for flexibility allowing for regionally appropriate green building practices. This StandardTM is the first American National Standards Institute (ANSI)-approved residential green building program in the nation and requires strict compliance including third party verification procedures.