Green building may not have caught on yet with remodelers, but the creators of Atlanta's EarthCraftHouse program hope to give the movement a push.
Since 1999, EarthCraftHouse has taught home builders how to build green and then certified participants' eco-friendly projects. A new program designed for remodelers officially launched this year.
Atlanta non-profit Southface Energy Institute created the program in conjunction with the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association. Remodelers pay $125 for a one-day class that introduces green building fundamentals like using sustainable materials and improving indoor air quality and energy efficiency. "The class gets them familiar with how the program works and introduces the science behind it," says program director Jim Hackler.
After receiving training, a remodeler picks a project to certify. Before the project begins, inspectors conduct a baseline analysis to determine how the house could be improved. Inspectors have identified seven improvement categories, each with several subsets. The homeowner and remodeler decide which improvements to aim for, and inspectors guide the remodeler toward achieving those goals. After passing a final inspection, the contractor can certify the house as an EarthCraftHouse. So far 12 certified pilot projects are complete.
"The results from our pilot projects have been much better than we expected," Hackler says. Some have even qualified for the Energy Star label, an efficiency rating designed for new homes.
More than 30 remodelers have completed the training course, and pilot programs are planned for this year in cities across Georgia.
SawHorse, a design/build company in Atlanta, helped create the EarthCraftHouse remodeling program. Vice President Carl Seville says programs like EarthCraftHouse will help boost consumer demand for green remodeling. "It's going to take an organized program that's a brand name people can latch on to," he says.
Remodelers, Seville notes, are notoriously resistant to change. Seville likens green building to design/build. Dismissed early on, he says design/build proved its value.