Quote of the Day: Building Green Houses is Like "Polishing a Turd"

Nic Darling of the 100K house project was asked why houses designed to LEED standards cost more than normal houses and responded that, well, actually, they don't have to, and that they were building a LEED Platinum house that was going to cost less.

The next question of course is why? Why do production home builders and established developers, people who have been building homes for many years, have to spend 15% more to get to LEED Platinum while us rookies are getting there at a discount? It was a question I had no concise answer to until a few days ago when an acquaintance, who wishes to remain anonymous, gave me a piece of her grandmother's wisdom in explanation . . . "It is because they're polishing a turd."

100K house under construction

It is a point that I have tried to make many times: instead of adding solar panels and ground source heat pumps, design in proper roof overhangs for shading, or plant a tree; do the simple things instead of adding expensive high tech. Nic continues:

OK, so it's a bit harsh. Turd is, maybe, an unnecessarily rude word to use to describe what are often pretty nice homes, but the concept is sound. Most of the builders and developers reporting high premiums for pursuing LEED are still trying to build the exact same home they have always built. They are simply adding features to make that same house energy efficient, healthy and sustainable. This addition gets expensive....

So, they polish the turd. Rather than redesign the house that has been successful for them in the past, they add solar panels, geothermal systems, high end interior fixtures, extra insulation and other green features. The house gets greener. It gets certified, but it also increases significantly in cost. Since the features are add-ons and extras, the price rises as each one is tacked on.

100K House
via Jetson Green

100K House in TreeHugger:

Another Opinion: Prefab is Not the Answer to Affordable, Modern and Green Homes
At A Clean Break: Interface Studio Architects

Keep it Simple and Green in TreeHugger:
Big Steps in Building: Plant a Tree
Awnings: Time to Bring Them Back
Pink is the New Green

Tags: Housing Industry | Philadelphia