Energy-saving homes an important buying factor
As environmental awareness grows, prospective homeowners are looking for houses that are energy efficient and sustainable. Atlanta builders are up to the challenge, as they continue to design and construct more green-friendly homes.
“Homebuyers are increasingly interested in well-built and sustainable homes,” said Beth Fore, Vice President of Operations and Consulting at Cablik Enterprises. “Buyers are becoming aware of the way that a home’s structure affects their utility bills, and they’re looking for proper insulation techniques and products.”
Some of the points that people are looking for these days include LEED-certified builders, EarthCraft Houses and Energy Star appliances. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is a rating for the design and construction of green buildings, homes and neighborhoods. EarthCraft Houses are residences that meet criteria such as proper site planning, resource-efficient building materials, indoor air quality and water conservation. And ENERGY STAR products use about 20 to 30 percent less energy than is required by federal standards.
Fore noted that spray foam insulation has become quite popular since it’s a key component to constructing a solid building envelope, the barrier between the home’s conditioned and unconditioned environments.
“Cablik Enterprises has significant experience in green building practices,” she said. “We built the first LEED-Silver certified home in Atlanta, and a strong majority of our homes are built to EarthCraft standards. In addition, we’ve included geothermal systems and advanced HVAC [heating, ventilation and air conditioning] systems for some of our clients. We can build as green as a homeowner wants to go.”
Green building practices don’t require that homeowners sacrifice comfort or style. Cablik Enterprises’ 975 at The Park, a collection of four modern townhomes located near Piedmont and 10th Street, offer skyline views from the windows, balconies and rooftop decks. They have three bedrooms, three baths, floor-to-ceiling glass windows and rich, hardwood floors.
Nestled in Midtown, the West Highlands neighborhood offers new Craftsman style homes in the low $200s. The Brock Built Properties community boasts plenty of green space that includes Herman H. Perry Park, picnic areas, walking paths and a playground.
Brock Built is so dedicated to green building and conservation that it has developed the GreenSmart program, designed to save energy. The GreenSmart program is extremely comprehensive and includes spray-on insulation that fills wall cavities, energy efficient plumbing and lighting fixtures, house wrap and air sealing. Radiant low emissivity (low-E) glass is used for windows to heat and prevent sunlight from overheating rooms, and radiant barrier roofing blocks 97 percent of all radiant heat going into the attic to keep houses cooler.
“Many of our homeowners are focused on both ongoing energy efficiency—including R38 blown-in insulation (which exceeds the code requirement of R30), tankless water heaters, and water-saving plumbing fixtures—and sustainable and recycled materials like the engineered floor system made from recycled material and engineered hardwood flooring,” reported Kirstin Hobday, Chief Operating Officer of Thrive Homes.
Hobday added that one of the most effective materials she has found for green building is radiant barrier sheathing, a product that keeps the attic temperature cooler and ultimately reduces energy costs.
Thrive Homes currently has fifteen modern townhomes available at 712 Oakview in Decatur. Priced from the mid $400s, each townhome features a two-car garage, a rooftop terrace and top of the line finishes throughout.
“I think it’s important for any forward-thinking builder to be focused on energy efficiency and thinking green,” Hobday stated. “From the low-E double-pane windows and doors and the use of efficient heat pumps with fresh air intake, to professional air sealing and the use of a radiant barrier sheathing, we’ve researched and adapted the best practices of EarthCraft certification to our construction specifications in an effort to build highly energy efficient homes.”
Another Decatur neighborhood, Park Overlook, is a unique enclave of 10 single-family homes priced from the mid $600s. The alley-entry homes, many on private, cul-de-sac homesites, have had so much interest that the final three homes are currently under construction by Monte Hewett Homes.
“We’ve been building energy-efficient homes for many years, long before it was an important buying factor for homeowners,” said Dina M. Gundersen, Director of Marketing at Monte Hewett Homes. “In our Park Overlook community in Decatur, we installed water saving plumbing fixtures, a feature that future homeowners have asked about. We also make sure that every home goes through blower door and ‘duct blaster’ testing to ensure the integrity of the building envelope.”
She neatly summed up Monte Hewett Homes’ philosophy: “’Green building’ is no longer a buzz word, it’s an expectation—and rightly so.”
John Wieland Homes & Neighborhoods prides itself on building green, energy-efficient housing. Their homes are outfitted with aerated plumbing fixtures and water-saving toilets, Energy Star appliances and lighting, and efficient heating/cooling systems with programmable thermostats. Building features include quality insulation, house wrap, vinyl windows with low-E glass, water-based paints and engineered lumber made of renewable materials.
Turnbury Gates in Chamblee is a John Wieland gated neighborhood of luxury townhomes. Homes surround the neighborhood’s central park that features a sparkling pool and private pavilion with an outdoor fireplace.