When the move towards "Natural" and "Organic" first came on the food scene, every Tom, Dick, and Harry jumped on the bandwagon and found loopholes in laws and definition that allowed them to label a product that wasn't really either natural or organic as such. It took a while before laws and certification procedures were put in place to protect consumers from being duped. Green building is in a resurgence from the '70s when only hippies like me thought it was cool. For most builders its new territory. Is it here to stay or just a fad of what's in the news. I'd like to think its really here for good. Being environmentally conscious is not just for Al Gore anymore either. It's becoming mainstream as we watch the polar ice melt at alarming speeds, more catastrophic weather events occur and the like.

This first annoying thing I see are the corporations like Exxon and GE and BP all creating ads stating how they are now moving towards "green" ways. If that were really true about the oil companies they'd be turning their attention to developing cost effective hydrogen production and working with US automakers to own that business. Oil companies already have the best fuel distribution system in place. But no...they want to drill in the artic and put billions into finding more reserves while our government tries to reshape middle east policies to protect oil supplies for the US. As my wife pages through Professional Builders magazine, she tells about the most curious ads regarding companies jumping on the "green" movement. Imagine http://vinylsiding.org/ claiming their green? To me its obvious that this petroleum based product that looks like shit on most homes is trying to shield themselves from an exodus of buyers who are looking to move towards being truly green. That being said what is green building anyway?

What this means to me is building with products and techniques that result in a healthier, more energy-efficient, and environmentally responsible home. Its more of a systems approach to home building that recognizes the home itself is only one aspect of the larger picture. Our world and immediate community must be taken into account as well. This broad-minded approach wants to provide healthy homes that don't poison the occupants or creates myriad allergies and health concerns and more efficient homes that costs 75% less than conventionally built homes to operate along with an eye on preserving and protecting our natural environment.

While green homes are built differently than traditional homes this doesn't necessarily mean that there's a difference in appearance. One does not need to forego style, convenience or comfort. Making life healthier is a primary reason for many to move into a green home. Saving their hard earned cash on utilities and saving the environment is icing on the cake. Energy costs will rise exponentially as China's demands for resources continue and the capacity for fossil fuels remains stationary. The cost benefit alone is reason enough for most to at least think about it.

The problem I see is that some builders I have found on line don't get the whole picture. Building 5,000 square foot McMansions that are more efficient and using some building techniques that qualify isn't quite on the mark. Higher density communities of smaller square foot homes is key. Subdivisions that incorporated single biological septic systems and water systems that are powered by renewal energy such as wind, hydro, or solar is what I am talking about here. The National Association of Home Builders has yet to develop a national standard and thus many local certification standards are popping up all over the country as a result. In this magazine my wife read that a builder who has been building green for 15 years has been asking for a standard for years and was met with reticence. Although they are in the process of developing one, in fact they have a public draft on line available for comment (this link is on the recommended links area on RiverToShore.com), its not here yet. Why after all these years have they just begun the process? I guess I should be happy it will be finalized over the next year or so. In the meantime, standards will vary greatly from area to area and only confuse most consumers looking to educate themselves. Its sort of like our states taking the immigration crisis into their own hands as our government hasn't the guts and/or smarts to deal with this all important issue.

So each region is branding and creating there own standards like http://www.southface.org/web/earthcraft_house/ech_main/ech_index.htm in GA is doing. The most important message I have for this blog entry is that all home builders should start looking to become green builders and that those customers out in the market for new homes to start demanding homes be built differently. What's on your mind about green building. I'd love for you to post your thoughts here.