How to go green without spending a lot of green


Published: Sunday, January 21, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 21, 2007 at 12:01 a.m.
Many people, including some owners of residential and commercial buildings, cling to the belief that building green is affordable only to the wealthy.
"That's a common perception," says Matt Ross, who markets green products through his company, Eco-$mart Inc.
But experts in green construction disagree. They point to a long list of things homeowners can do and products they can buy, many of them inexpensive, to save energy, promote health and benefit the environment.
According to one study of the costs of building green - using what are known as LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, standards - the costs were in line with conventional buildings when sustainable materials and methods were factored into the design process from the start.
Increasingly, homebuilders are catching on, says Bob Sisum, chairman of the Florida Association of Home Builders' green building committee.
"It's certainly a topic that is much more on builders' minds," Ross said.
Indeed, just the very act of building a new home is green in comparison with houses that were built in the past, in light of tougher energy codes.
But what if you're not building? What if you own an older home, and just don't have the money to retrofit with photovoltaic panels or energy-efficient wall systems?
"Green is affordable and does make a lot of sense," says Ross, through the use of such low-cost measures as sealing windows and doors, installing compact fluorescent light bulbs and replacing worn-out appliances with Energy Star-rated units, and painting with low-VOC paint that doesn't give off toxic fumes.
"It's well within reach," says Sisum.
"Yes, it may cost you a little bit more today, but there is a savings. And, you can measure it. You and I know the cost of fuel is going up.

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