Expert Author Jeremy Bonin

Green homes are much better than conventional homes – but what makes a home green?

Typically, a green home is an energy efficient home that at minimum saves at least 30% in energy costs versus a conventional new home (and savings can be significantly higher), conserves water, protects the surrounding site environment, uses non-toxic paints and finishes, and thus creates a healthy living space for you and your family.

In order to reap the savings associated with building a green home, though, it is important to hire professionals who are experts in the green building field. Interview and hire an architect who is a LEED accredited professional, even if you are not looking to have your new home LEED certified. A LEED architect has industry-recognized expertise. A green home starts with a green home design, or sustainable design, addressing the elements of geography, site, water efficiency, energy, materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality.

A few benefits of working with an architect focused on the sustainable aspects of design and construction of your new home are that he or she will: 1) design your home to maximize spatial requirements as well as energy and water consumption; 2) design the home to limit the negative impact of the building on the immediate environment; and 3) explore various green technologies, renewable energy systems, green building products, and energy efficient building systems that fit well with the site – and your pocketbook.

Your builder is also an important part of your green team. Interview numerous builders (at least three) and visit homes both completed and under construction. Ask what makes the house green, as well as specific questions about the systems and materials. A green builder will be able to offer simple explanations and give recommendations as to best products to use. Most green architects will help you choose the builder who is right for your project and who will work well for you.

Throughout the design and construction processes your green architect and builder will educate you on the operation and maintenance of the green materials and systems you selected for your energy efficient home. These benefits and savings will begin during the construction process and continue for the life of the home!

Jeremy Bonin, a principal partner of Bonin Architects & Associates (, is an award-winning green architect and the author. With a special interest in sustainable design and green homes, structural insulated panels (SIPs), as well as timber frame construction, Jeremy incorporates renewable energy practices where possible, including geo-thermal, solar, radiant heat, and energy-efficient foundation systems.

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