Green building leaders share vision for Proud Green Homes

Aug. 16, 2013

Story and photos by Steve Arel.

On the eve of unveiling America’s newest high-performance home, seven key players on Thursday gathered to help celebrate the development of the Proud Green Home at Serenbe.

The group, including the architect, builder and those whose vision spurred the construction, huddled to discuss broader topics related to the structure’s potential impact on the home-building industry and how projects such as the Proud Green Home might soon change consumer mindsets toward environmentally sound development.

The Proud Green Home, a two-story contemporary metal and brick home in the quiet Serenbe community just south of Atlanta, opens to the public Friday. A model of green-building techniques, the minds behind its evolution hail it as a symbol of how high-performance innovation can be accomplished effectively and efficiently.

With many consumers focusing on a home’s price tag, those on the roundtable said the public tends to overlook an array of benefits of sound green construction. Among them: lower energy costs, fewer repairs, increased durability and better quality of life.

A green home is “an active part of making the occupant’s life better,” said Jodi Laumer-Giddens, one of the architects of the Proud Green Home. “Instead of just shelter, it’s an integral part of providing fresh air and, if built right, being a contributor to the planet rather than just sucking resources … The performance is that it’s earning its keep. That’s what we all should be trying to work toward. We can’t just take and take and take.”

In talking about industry trends, Dennis Creech, co-founder and executive director of Southface, said deep green construction, as it evolves, will be a diverse mix of designs, configured to fit local climates and consumer interests. However, some of the biggest barriers to widespread adoption stems from home appraisals and real estate agents who don’t recognize the value of green building methods and public policy that slows the movement.

Dennis Creech of Southface makes a point to Chris Laumer-Giddens, architect of the Proud Green Home, during a roundtable discussion about green home-building Thursday at The Farmhouse at Serenbe.

“We have to expunge the words ‘green’ and ‘high-performance’ from our vocabulary,” said Creech, whose Southface group is among the nation’s leaders in education and research organizations promoting sustainable homes. “Every home should be high-performing and green.”

The Proud Green Home on Thursday was awarded EarthCraft Platinum certification, Southface’s highest honor for performance. Those on the roundtable agreed that such designations are important to educating consumers on the real value of a green home.

From a builder’s perspective, such certifications can serve as bragging rights, said Matt Belcher, a St. Louis builder and head of the Green Committee of the National Association of Home Builders. It also acts as something of a quality seal, something akin to grades departments of health give to restaurants.

Luis Imery, builder of the Proud Green Home, makes a point to moderator Bob Fincher during a roundtable discussion about green home-building Thursday at The Farmhouse at Serenbe.

“Certifications steer builders in the right direction we’re going to,” said Chris Laumer-Giddens, the other architect of the Proud Green Home.

In doing so, he believes, certifications eventually will largely disappear.

“We’ll just be building all homes well,” Chris Laumer-Giddens said.

Read more about the Proud Green Home at Serenbe.

Topics: Building Green , Certification / LEED , Proud Green Home at Serenbe , Sustainability Trends & Statistics , Sustainable Communities , Trends / Statistics

Companies: , Southface Energy Institute , Serenbe Sustainable Community , LG Squared, Inc. , The Imery Group

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