How Affordable is Building Green?

Energy Star shows how to build sustainablyGreen Home Design – The ENERGY STAR Option –

Guest Post by Shannon Combs

Homebuyer demands for energy efficiency and cost savings have ushered in a new era of architects and designers that are helping consumers to save energy, and in turn helping to reduce the emissions that drive climate instability.

Green building practices, long considered impractical and expensive, are meeting the EPA’s strict standards and delivering award-winning homes that are both attractive and financial viable. Responsible planning fuels sustainable design, and educated buyers now require their home plans meet the EPA’s ENERGY STAR seal of approval.

ENERGY STAR is the government’s stamp for environmentally friendly products. The program publishes stringent requirements for consumer items, commercial buildings, and family homes. Founded in 1992, the program has grown rapidly, becoming the industry standard for quality while producing energy efficient homes with lower operating costs.

The EPA reports ENERGY STAR homes consume 20-30% less energy than a standard home, and more buyers consider the ENERGY STAR seal a significant factor in the decision process. The trickle-down effect forced architects and builders to re-invent themselves with more sustainable design, material, and construction.

What makes an ENERGY STAR home?

ENERGY STAR qualified homes include proven energy saving features, all enhancing home quality, comfort, and even, resale. Approval requires better insulation, high-performance windows, and tighter ducts – materials meeting a higher standard than normal building code. ENERGY STAR heating and cooling systems, lighting, and appliances complement the comprehensive plan.

Do all new homes come with an ENERGY STAR?

Not yet. The EPA’s requirements are stiff and not all architects and builders have jumped on board. Awareness is also an issue, as many new buyers still don’t realize the ENERGY STAR can be applied to an entire structure.

However, conventional companies like these that sell blueprints and house plans are now offering energy star options on their websites. As green-building components scale and mature, costs have stabilized, which is moving the market toward ENERGY STAR.

Technological improvements and advanced building sciences have leveled the playing field, seamlessly integrating ENERGY STAR specs into home design without sacrificing health or aesthetics. Choose a design built for approval. Off-the-shelf designs may require upgrades, but the future cost benefits are worth the premium.


Shannon Combs is a freelance writer that contributes articles for the solar panel and solar battery charger blogs. She worked as green business consultant to help small business reduce their carbon footprints and help their clients consume less energy.

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Thomas Schueneman
Thomas Schueneman
Tom is the founder and managing editor of and the PlanetWatch Group. His work appears in Triple Pundit, Slate, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, Earth911, and several other sustainability-focused publications. Tom is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

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