Confused about what it means to build green?
Most people have heard of green building, and most are a little unclear about what it really means.  At its core, green building means doing less harm to the environment in the process of building a home, and not making people sick after they move in to a house.  You can do this by:
  • designing and building houses efficiently
  • designing and building houses that will last
  • designing and building houses that use less water and energy
  • designing and building houses that are healthful to live in
At Jeff Sowder Incorporated, we believe that green homes are better homes.

The following is so true
"It’s possible to build a quality home that’s not green, but you can’t build green without adding quality." 

Whether it is the initial design and planning, specific required product installation procedures, certification inspection checklists, or the third-party inspections, green certified homes have measurable quality built-in from the ground up.  

Many houses that are beautiful aren’t comfortable or energy efficient and many energy-efficient houses aren’t especially beautiful. Houses that look good and live well have a high level of design involved, and through meticulous planning and design, most of the other goals of green building are achieved: minimizing waste, maximizing efficiency, making sure indoor air is clean, and choosing materials that tread lightly on local and global ecosystems.

In short, we can build green by building even better houses than we’ve been building.  We take the next step in quality.

Green (or high-performance) building is the next step in quality
Green building is an approach to building that guides every step of design and construction, from choosing a building site to installing a heating system to selecting toilets to disposing of trash and debris.  Green building is alternately described as 'sustainable' building or 'high-performance' building, and ultimately this may be a more accurate way of looking at it.  Because of the overuse of the word 'green' and the subsequent 'greenwashing,' I prefer to call the green custom homes we build in Roanoke and at Smith Mountain Lake 'high-performance' homes. 

Green buildings are as varied as the people who live in them.  There is no single template for a green house.  But even though green houses may look different from the outside, their designs are based on three broad principles:

Energy efficiency
The house uses as little energy as possible.  Whenever feasible, renewable forms of energy should replace fossil fuels, which by definition are not renewable.

Conservation of natural resources
This broad objective recognizes that resources are finite.  There is only so much timber, ore and water to go around, and what resources are available to us should be used thoughtfully.  Seen through this lens, durability, low environmental impact and low maintenance all become important attributes for a house.

Excellent indoor air quality
Green / high-performance homes are designed to be healthy homes.  A green home shouldn't have moisture, mold, or radon problems.  Building materials, furnishings, paints and finishes should not contribute toxins and irritants to indoor air.  Even with clean air though, houses need mechanical ventilation that assures a steady flow of fresh air.

When we see an ENERGY STAR label on a new refrigerator or washing machine, we recognize it as a good thing.  Green isn’t that simple.  But understanding the principles behind green / sustainable / high performance building helps us make appropriate decisions about the homes we build.

Green / High-performance certified homes
Jeff Sowder Incorporated is a custom home builder certified to build green high-performance custom homes in Roanoke and Smith Mountain Lake for the following green building programs: