Introducing Green Gauge
By Maggie Leslie on 03/06/2012
The NC HealthyBuilt Homes and LEED for Homes programs have continued to grow even during the market downturn as builders and homeowners begin to recognize that these programs offer increased sales potential and that homes with these designations and features hold their value extremely well. Both programs are open to new homes and to gut remodels of existing homes.
However, the Western North Carolina Green Building Council recognizes an increasing demand for a program to assess green renovations, as well as new homes that didn’t have the necessary inspections for the other certification programs. The WNCGBC is thrilled to finally have an answer. Green Gauge is a new program with three main functions: provide an assessment for sellers or buyers of existing homes; offer a low-cost, simplified way for people to learn about opportunities to green their existing homes; and serve as an assessment to meet the market need for a comparison tool for non-ENERGY STAR new homes. The program will include an affordable visual assessment with several levels of participation and reporting options.
For recently completed new homes that do not have a Home Energy Rating Score (HERS), or existing homes looking for detailed information about their energy efficiency, the program will align with the Energy Performance Score program (energy-performance-score.com). EPS is an energy-rating system similar to the miles-per-gallon rating for the auto industry. Conceptualized by Earth Advantage Institute and supported by funding from the Energy Trust of Oregon, the EPS provides an estimate of actual home-energy consumption based on a detailed analysis of the home as well as related carbon emissions. It shows homeowners where they rank in energy use on a regional and national scale.
For those looking to retrofit or remodel, the Green Gauge Report, in conjunction with EPS reporting, will provide valuable information and suggestions about how to green the home, along with easy access to qualified contractors, incentives and potential financing opportunities.
For existing homeowners looking for a snapshot assessment to use in marketing their home for sale, there’s Green Gauge Lite. Instead of a full EPS evaluation, this lowest-cost option includes a short visual assessment by WNCGBC staff, as well as review of 12 months of utility data (unless the homeowner has had a HERS). In turn, participants will receive a one-page “gauge” highlighting the green features of the home and illustrating how the energy and indoor water use of the home compare to average homes in the region. The information can provide a marketing advantage to those wishing to sell an efficient home, or it can be requested by a buyer who wants to make an informed decision about the true cost, which includes the operating cost, of the home.
What features will Green Gauge assess?
- Energy use
- Indoor water use
- Native, drought-resistant and edible landscaping
- Walkscore, a score of the home’s walkability to goods and services
- Environmentally preferable materials
- Indoor air
All information will be tracked in a secure database that allows homeowners to access and update information over time so that no matter who owns the home, the data is always available. Since the goal of the program is to encourage improvements to homes, for a small fee, a home’s Green Gauge can be updated to reflect green upgrades. Long term, a goal of Green Gauge is to catalog detailed information about the performance of homes in our area so that energy and water-use performance of homes can be compared based on square footage, ZIP code and number of bedrooms.