How To Certify An Eco Friendly House?

Posted by: AiRc8Vhp  :  Category: Home Builder

By Terence Green

Although builders and DIY enthusiasts have been discussing the eco-friendly building techniques since early 1970s, it was not before the recent couple of decades when official globally accepted eco-friendly house certification systems went underway. It is completely understandable that he builders would need a trustworthy assessment system to steer themselves away from the unsustainable practices.

The first system for that purpose was set up in the UK in 1990. It is called BREEAM short for the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method. It attracted an international appreciation almost right away due to the strict assessment standards and the rather obvious set of evaluation methods.

Even though the BREEAM is a globally accepted system, several European countries have developed their own local deviations based on the BREEAM principles. Initially, the English system was aimed at newly built industrial buildings only.

Ten years later a new branch – EcoHomes was established to evaluate the residential properties. The latest revision of EcoHomes happened in 2006 and it is now pretty much in sync with the current eco-friendly house development trends.

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Across The Ocean

A substitute certification system was established in the USA in 1998, called LEED short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It applies to both commercial and residential properties. Both the English and the American system are point based. The LEED focuses more on the local USA situation and is strongly attached to the US Dollar currency rate, somehow limiting its global application.

Yet, it is internationally recognized, mainly due to the clever marketing campaign and a good boost from the Government. Countries like Canada and India, where the US Dollar has a strong following, has adopted an imitative eco-friendly house certification system.

Although one can take a course and become an accredited LEED professional, it only means that you can give advice to the builders and assist them in preparation of the documentation that would prove that the object has green credentials. Once the documentation is approved by the US Green Building Council, there will be no follow-up and nobody would inspect the completed house. Therefore the certification is given on a documentation basis not on the actual achievement basis.

In the meantime the BREEAM appoints trained assessors who will inspect and evaluate the way the home is being built. Besides, the English certification system is much more oriented to the reduction of CO2 emissions and cutting the embodied energy of the used materials.

For that very reason it receives some criticism but that is also probably the only way forward to meet the CO2 reduction targets. The traditional building materials like mineral insulation sheets and cement are produced using old carbon intensive methods. BREEAM discourages and limits the use of such materials.

The Main Rationale of Certification Systems

If most of the units built in the USA and Great Britain are not eco-friendly, what’s the purpose of these certification systems, you might enquire. Today they are tools that are employed to change the way we observe buildings and the way they are being constructed.

A house with a LEED certification can be sold for at least 10% more than a similar traditional home. In the nearest future, as people become more familiar with green certification, building green will become even more popular and the prices of traditional builds will plummet. So if you want to make more money in the future, you will have to build green.

Both systems, BREEAM and LEED have their positive and negative sides and they have developed so much during the recent years that any new system created by other countries will more or less derive the main philosophy from those two big guns.

About the Author: Have you ever thought about how green is your house? Please join the discussion on our

Eco-friendly house

blog. Everyone will find something inspirational there whether you’re a professional builder or just a DIY enthusiast trying to improve your living space. Please also check the section of green building materials to find out which stuff comes with the lowest grey energy.

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