Monday, February 23, 2009

Best Practices in Sustainable Building

Green home design is only one part of the sustainable building equation. Equally important are the methods and practices your contractor uses during the construction process in order to minimize impact to the site environment. Two main areas that should be given attention are pollution prevention and site protection. These should be discussed during the interview process with your builder and outlined thoroughly to make sure best practices for sustainable building are in place.

Pollution prevention can be controlled on site by addressing soil erosion, airborne dust generation, and waterway sedimentation. The site should especially be protected by eliminating the runoff of sediment created by such practices as silt fencing, seeding and mulching and creating sediment traps and basins.

Environmental quality on the jobsite is an important consideration and counts toward LEED points if you want your home to be LEED certified. Some of the things your contractor should be knowledgeable about are site impact, construction waste, indoor air quality, and the use of paints and adhesives.

Your builder should always keep construction equipment within minimal limits to avoid site disturbance. Construction waste recycling is a primary concern. Builders who recycle 50% of construction materials are complying with minimum standards. Additional LEED points are given incrementally to projects with over 75% and up to 95% waste recycling. Best practices in maintaining healthy indoor air quality should be adhered to, including keeping all ductwork, carpets, and other indoor materials covered to remain dust-free. Any and all paints, stains, coatings, adhesives, and indoor sealants should be specified low-VOC in your home to prevent off-gassing. Finally, prior to taking occupancy, the contractor should change all filters and perform a two-week flush of the home with clean outdoor air.

By using best practices in sustainable construction when you decide to build a home, you will be protecting your health and environment simultaneously.