How to Find a ‘Green’ Home in Atlanta
Atlanta’s housing market is going green. Georgia ranks seventh in the nation for sustainable construction, according to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).
So how do you find a green home — or make your current house more green? Here’s an overview:
What’s a ‘Green’ Home?
Since there’s no universal definition of what constitutes a “green home,” David Ellis, executive vice president of the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association (GAHBA), suggests buyers look for houses with reputable green certifications, such as those offered by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) or the GAHBA’s EarthCraft House, a green building program catering to the Southeast.
These programs aim to standardize what it means for a home to be eco-friendly by providing a certification and rating based on guidelines for construction features and best practices. These often include things like the use of recycled materials, energy-efficient design and sustainable landscaping practices. The program checklists and certifications also can serve as a guide to help homeowners transform an existing property into a certified green home by making the necessary improvements in energy efficiency and sustainability.
“These certifications ensure buyers get a home that has met basic industry specifications for green building,” Ellis says. “Reputable programs such as LEED and EarthCraft House provide third-party verification of green standards compliance.”
In fact, Ellis says there are now more than 30,000 EarthCraft House-certified homes in Georgia. And, estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency’s EnergySTAR energy efficiency and green home certification program show nearly 21,000 such homes built in Georgia to date.
There are other benefits to owning a green home, too: Certified homes often sell faster, according to Carson Matthews, associate broker of Atlanta Fine Homes.
KnowAtlanta, a local relocation guide, points to several other factors worth assessing when house shopping:
- Watch for energy-saving appliances and air conditioning/heating systems that receive EnergySTAR designation. (In addition to certifying products, the EPA also provides green home locator services and certifications.)
- Look for homes constructed by members of major green homebuilders associations like the GAHBA. Often these members partner with local and federal government agencies to ensure compliance with major green construction protocols.
- Search for sustainable neighborhoods, including those that are walkable or near public transportation and recycling centers.
- Check for homes that meet strong air filtration and insulation standards, as these can help decrease energy utilization.
Where to Look
Green homes, says Ellis, can be found all over Atlanta, and aren’t limited to specific neighborhoods or price ranges.
“EarthCraft-certified homes come in every price range and can be found all over the city,” Ellis says. “Some large, very upscale homes are green certified, but so are more modest houses. As an example, every Habitat for Humanity house constructed in Atlanta must meet EarthCraft green building standards.”
Some area homebuilders have constructed batches of green-certified houses in local communities. Windsong Properties, for example, partnered with EnergySTAR to construct 50 green certified homes in its Somerset development near Woodstock.
Meanwhile, Ashton Woods Homes has built numerous single-family residences and townhomes throughout the Atlanta area featuring energy-efficient “Power Green” upgrades. The builder claims that these upgrades can save homeowners up to 45 percent on energy costs when compared to traditional home constructions of the same size.
But you don’t have to be in the market for a new green home to enjoy energy savings and a more environmentally conscious lifestyle. The EPA offers guides to making your existing home greener. The agency says that even small changes, like upgrading your appliances and properly sealing ducts, can result in sizable savings and an improved green lifestyle.
Whether you’re in the market for a new home or want to update the one you already live in, there are ways to go green, you just need to know where to look.