Sunday, October 26, 2008

Certifiably Crazy

While some people think we're certifiably crazy for embarking on this project (instead of just buying an existing house), we think it would be crazy to buy a traditional (energy inefficient) house in the DC area that we don't really like and then have to put a lot more money into updates and upgrades. This way, we get what we want in terms of style of house, sustainability in construction and living, etc.

Speaking of certifying, we attended a green building class in Roanoke this past week for the EarthCraft Virginia certification program. This training was geared for construction companies, architects, etc., but they allowed us to attend as owner-builders. The EarthCraft certification is like LEED for homes, but it's a much less expensive certification process. The program started in the Atlanta area and, to date, more than 4,500 homes have been certified by EarthCraft. The program expanded into Virginia just a few years ago and they are hoping to certify several hundred homes annually in the Commonwealth.

The seminar focused on how the certification program works. There are minimum requirements that must be met in order to receive EarthCraft certification, then there are other points a builder has to earn in addition to the minumum requirements. Many of these requirements are tied to energy efficiency. For some homebuilders, this will take some significant change to their construction practices in order to achieve certification. For us, since we have intended the house to be environmentally-friendly from the start, this is a validation to ensure we are actually building green.

We've been assigned an EarthCraft technical advisor who will oversee our construction and conduct some on-site inspections to ensure we meet the required standards. We're very hopeful that we'll achieve this certification.