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- Green Homes—Creating a Project Plan
Green Homes—Creating a Project Plan
- Photo: ecohomeideas.com
- Analyze what you already have—either in your home, if it is a remodel, or in the site, if it is a new build. For a remodeling project, for example, schedule a home performance audit with tests that will determine base energy-efficiency levels.
- Review and clarify what you want out of the project. Set some achievable and measurable goals and determine how and when the success of those goals will be checked. For example, if energy conservation is a goal for a remodeling project, perhaps a blower-door test could be one way to determine success.
- Discuss potential challenges. Review various strategies that will meet your goals for your area of the country. Sustainability is about place. What may work well in one region may not be as effective a choice in your area. Check out national resources like the Department of Energy and EPA for wind and solar maps, for instance.
- Decide on the number of key meetings with the team as well how much you want to be involved. Decide if you will be involved daily, weekly or monthly.
- Review design concepts. Make sure your goals are reflected in the plans.
- Decide on your budget. Do a cost-benefit analysis and return on investment calculations on your plan. Many variables contribute to the bottom line.
- Determine the timetable, which depends on the size of the home or remodel project.. According to Stelmack, once contracts are signed and all team members in place, a typical timeframe might include having a schematic design in six to 10 weeks, developing a design in 8 to 12 weeks, and preparing construction documents in 10 to 14 weeks.
Working Through the Plan
As you consider, create, and proceed through your green plan, here are other things to keep in mind:
- A green plan does not have to cost more. “You build to the budget,” says O’Brien, “You don’t let it control you.” She suggests implementing strategies that use free services on the site such as sunlight, rain, airflow, and the Earth’s constant temperature; that provide multiple benefits, such as a green roof that provides insulation, stormwater cleansing, heat island tempering and aesthetics; and that use strategies that reduce consumption such as efficient framing, drought-tolerant landscaping and insulation packages.
- A green plan can be successful even if the work is not started from scratch. “Prioritize and phase your improvements, whether it’s a remodel or new,” says O’Brien. “With our new home, we incorporated a garage design that had a skylight so that when we created a granny flat, we didn’t have to open the roof. We just upgraded our hydronic system and added a preheat solar collector.”
- Be a positive team player. Be proactive, decisive, patient and understanding. Instill open communication among team members.
- Keep checking the plan and verify that the work is proceeding on track and accomplishing your goals.
- Have fun. Building or remodeling your home can be a fulfilling and inspirational process, says green expert Annette Stelmack.
When your green plan has been successfully completed, learn how to operate your new green home or remodel. The success of a green plan can be greatly affected by your habits and lifestyle. Adding big power users, not programming the programmable thermostat or failing to provide routine maintenance of the home’s systems will not allow the project to operate up to its potential.
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