The best things about green homes

What does green building mean to you? What do you like about your green home?

I began with a desire to do my small part to help save our environment. When my first electric bills arrived, I realized I was also going to save a lot of money. 
— Bill LaRocque, homeowner

To me, “green” refers to plants, a metaphor for life. Green building, then, is about sustaining life. In my work, that means combining building science (energy efficiency/integrated systems design) with low-tech strategies (site-made and local materials/permaculture) to create built environments that work with their local ecosystem. 
— Clarke Snell, managing director, The Nauhaus Institute

Building our “green home” meant making conscious decisions about incorporating energy efficiency, durability, sustainability and a healthy, comfortable indoor environment into a pleasing design that was built with quality materials and workmanship. Living in our home is a joy that is more than the sum of those decisions. 
—Chris Lorish, homeowner

We love our green home because it keeps us warm and healthy without going broke. We don’t fear getting our utility bills in the mail! 
— Eva Steward, homeowner

We have backgrounds in ecology and environmental education and believe that the HBH program helps meet their desires for a modest, well-built home that surpasses non-HBH homes by encouraging designs and materials that are more sustainable and energy efficient. We’re also excited about sharing what we’ve learned with others in the Franklin, N.C., area. 
— Jason and Jennifer Ralph, homeowners

Green building means building for a purpose, for people, and for the planet, rather than simply for profit. 
— Jody Guokas, owner, JAG Construction

I truly hate that we need to have a term for “green building” — it should just be the way we build things, period. To me, it’s mainly about finding site-specific solutions to take advantage of the sun, the landscape and other site features to help heat and cool our buildings; utilizing efficient plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems that help us conserve energy and water and to reduce the costs of operating and maintaining our buildings; using nontoxic and local building materials, and being efficient in how we build with those materials; and recycling and using recycled materials whenever possible. 
 Diana Bellgowan, architect

Our home is much, much more than we ever imagined it would be. It shelters us and provides a sense of well-being far beyond our expectations. This home has truly made us believers in “if you don’t build green, why build?” 
— Bonnie Pickartz, homeowner

What do I like most about my home?  Low maintenance, durability, but primarily, energy efficiency. 
— Herman Lankford, homeowner

The dynamic interaction between the internal and external environment of our green home has taught me just how alive a house can be. And we who live in the house get to participate! Shades up, shades down, sun in, sun out, cool in, cool out, warmth when you want it, fresh air all year, hot water and heat from the sun. Insulation is the essence. Sometimes only a few lit candles provide just enough heat on a cloudy, cool winter day! 
— Catherine Faherty, homeowner

Efficiency and sustainability have become buzzwords for the green movement. They are spoken almost casually these days, but I feel these words are the essence of green building. A building is only as green as it is efficient. The most sustainable method of green building is to take an existing structure and increase its efficiency. 
— Eric Krause, president, BioWheels

The energy efficiency of our new home is incredible. After being gone for three of the coldest weeks of the winter, which included many days with well below freezing temperatures and some snow and ice, our inside temperature didn’t drop below 63 degrees without the heat coming on! 
 Steve Jarrell, homeowner

[Margaret Williams is an editor for Mountain Xpress. She can be reached at or (828) 251-1333, ext 152.]