Every day, while traveling to or coming home from work, I hear an advertisement for new Energy Star homes under construction or ready for purchase. While I have the utmost respect for what Energy Star
certification stands for and hopes to accomplish, I don’t believe I could ever own one myself. Energy Star and other similarly accredited homes offer quite a bit in terms of energy efficiency, but in terms of lessening the homes impact on the environment…I’m not entirely sure I could agree.
Energy Star certified homes certainly have a lot to offer in terms of high efficiency insulation, windows, appliances, and HVAC systems. However, none of the aforementioned Energy Star home aspects
are really out of the ordinary and could be applied to a home whether brand new or several decades old. Chances are pretty good that if you wanted a new home and worked closely with your contractor, you could implement most of the necessary Energy Star home aspects without problem. You’d essentially have created your own Energy Star home (although you may not receive the certification).
New Energy Star certified homes shine when in terms of energy efficiency. However, regardless of how efficient the home, you’re still using an enormous amount of energy to extract, process, ship, and manufacture the materials needed for the home. All of the energy used to construct a new home would go toward the homes overall environmental impact assessment. Even some of the most efficient homes would require at least a decade before they broke even with the amount of energy saved when compared to the energy required during the new homes construction.
So where does this leave us? Energy Star certified homes are designed to have exceptional efficiency when compared to typical building standards and effectively cost less money in terms of heating, cooling, and overall operation. However, I would like to present an alternative idea that centers on both energy efficiency and preservation. There are plenty of methods for combining the minimization of environmental impacts with energy efficiency. We’ll continue this topic in “Let’s Talk Preservation: Part 2”. www.hickoryenergy.tumblr.com