Saw this article in the New River Valley Current this weekend regarding Progress Street Builders' new NAHB Gold Standard program. As the owner of a home built by Progress Street Builders, I can speak firsthand to their attention to detail - in this case, they're paying attention to things that have a greater purpose. And as you'll see in the article, Don is putting his money where his mouth is - Kudos to Don and the team at Progress Street
(Dear Roanoke Times - would you please publish these articles online so they don't have to be written out in their entirety?)
"EarthCraft, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) ... all are promoting sustainable building techniques, energy-efficient usage of space and materials, and long term, cost-effective approaches to design.
Progress Street Builders, whcih, since it started the eight-year old Village at Tom's Creek project, has been known for a sustainable building approach. It has incorporated aspects of energy efficiency into its homes for nearly a decade. Now its Roanoke development, Colonial Green, and a new spec house in the Village at Tom's Creek, will incorporate the NAHB Green Building standards, according to Don Hughes, operations manager.
The spec house, a four-square will not stand out architecturally from the rest of the houses in the Village, said Hughes. And neither will it be significantly more expensive. In pursuing the NAHB standard - it has chosen the Gold Standard, the ones Hughes said best fits their focus of sustainability.
'Green building is not a term I'm terribly fond of,' he said. 'It's so ambiguous, so we use the term sustainability, which indicates where you build and how you build. The majority of our construction work, in The Village at Tom's Creek and in Roanoke, has been green since the inception of The Village. It has a lot inherent characteristics, with the ability not just to look at the house but also the community. NAHB looks at the community at large, and we felt it was a really importatn component.'
Hughes explained that his company's green building approach uses smaller lots and larger continuous green spaces.
'One of the reasons we took on the Gold program was that we've been doing this throughout our company's history, and we wanted to utilize it to the greatest extent,' said Hughes.
According to NAHB, its building standard 'will maintain the flexibility of green building practices while providing a common national benchmak for builders, remodelers, and developers ... It is based on the three-year-old NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines, but enhanced to include residential remodeling, multifamily building, and lot and site development - also the first of their kinds in the country. It also reflects advancements in requirements in the International Residential Code and other changes that serve as indications of the dynamic nature of green building.'
Hughes said the program is more flexible and meets their needs as well as the characteristics of the New River Valley. For instance, he said, prior EarthCraft certifications (although they may have changed recently, he added) would not allow a program that used septic systems. While it is a very good program, said Hughes, in some areas of the New River Valley septic systems are necessary.
'This house [in The Village] will be certified under both programs,' he said.
The NAHB program requires a third-party, independent verification that involves both a blower-door test and a duct-blaster test to check air leaks.
'We go through a complex analysis of each house. The program gives you a broad range of meeting certain performance criteria, and we can address those objectives in a multitude of ways,' said Hughes.
Although Progress Street Builders chose the Gold Standard, when building subsequent homes it will offer homeowners a choice as to which level of home they want. The seven key green areas that the standard addresses are site, resource efficiency, energy efficiency, water efficiency, indoor environmental quality, homeowner education and global impact.
Hughes said Progress Street Builders' houses didn't have to go trhough any major changes, because the company's standard specifications already were in line with both EarthCraft and NAHB certifications and goals.
His company has concentrated on creativerly building air barriers, bringing HVAC systems inside the conditioned envelope, yet still turning out a house that is both energy efficient and cost effective.
'As long as you build carefully, not using exotic materials, you don't have to build a house that is compromised in livability or in its aesthetics. You'll drive by this particular home and it will not look out of place. It's going to be in complete architectural harmony with the community,' said Hughes.
Progress Street Builders is so confident of the NAHB Gold standard that Hughes is offering homeowners who live in NAHB Gold Standard houses an energy-usage program that guarantees a certain energy usage for two years - in units rather than in dollars - that will reimburse the homeowner for overages.
'When we build and test and have third-party verifications, we feel very comfortable in guaranteeing energy usage. it's something we have monitored in model homes and in our personal homes,' said Hughes.