Big Island

The Nitty Gritty on Green Homes

Have you ever seen a home listed as “green” and wondered what the heck that means? Well,  I recently took a two-day Green Designation class to find out for myself.

Green homes are also referred to as Resource Efficient Homes. They are known to be less expensive to operate, provide a healthy and comfortable environment, and are built with low energy materials. Green homes have also been known to spend less time on the market,  maintain their value in a down market and bring a higher percentage of their list price. The big question for most consumers is, is it worth the time and expense?

There are three different types of national certifications to consider when looking into a green home.

  • Energy Star™
  • LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)
  • NGBS (Green Building Standard)

Energy Star ™

Energy Star™ certifications are awarded by the EPA and the DOE.  There are over 1.5 million homes certified homes. It was introduced in 1995. Certification requires a Professional Engineer or Registered Architect. There are no costs to apply through the EPA or DOE but there are fees for inspectors etc.

Home appliances are a large component of home energy costs. Using energy efficient appliances can make a significant impact on energy expenses. Tax credits are also available for approved appliances. One thing to keep in mind, just because there is an Energy Star™ appliance it does not mean that the home is a qualified Energy Star™ home.

For more information on Energy Star™ go to


LEED certifications are awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Over 150,000 homes are LEEDS certified. The LEED certification was introduced for homes in 2007. There are four different levels within the LEEDS which are Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Only USGBC qualified Green Raters and certify a LEEDS home. The fees for registration and certification range from $325.00 to $525.00.

For more information on LEED go to

National Green Building Standard Green Certification (NGBS)

NGBS certifications are awarded by the Home Innovation Research Labs which is a subsidiary of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) There are over 54,000 homes NGBS certified. The NGBS certification was introduced in 2005.  There are four levels of certification, Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Emerald. Only Accredited Reviewers can certify an NGBS home. The cost to have your home certified as an NGBS home.

For more information on NGBS, go to

Here’s a simple list to keep in mind when looking for a home with green features.

  • Energy efficient appliances, lighting, water faucets and A/C.
  • Non-toxic finishes, as well as sustainable woods, are also great for going green in a home.
  • Low maintenance landscaping that requires little to no watering.
  • Distance to work is also a factor when thinking about a green home. How far of a commute will you have? Can you rideshare or take public transportation to save on emissions?

I am passionate about living as green as possible. The more conscious we can be today, the better off we will be tomorrow.

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