It would be ridiculous to suggest that every house constructed in advance of the green-building boom is substandard, although some of them clearly are.
There are many New England farmhouses entering their third century of service that are still sound, even if they are a little drafty. There also are houses 10 or 20 years old that have serious structural problems caused by sloppy workmanship, inappropriate or substandard materials or both.
What’s really wrong with conventional building techniques is that they are often haphazard and wasteful. Houses built with too little forethought can be uncomfortable, expensive to heat and cool and ill suited to the site. Worse, they can be unhealthy places to live because of airborne mold, toxic chemical off-gassing and overall poor air quality.
Green building is an approach that helps designers, builders and all of the other trades that get involved. There are specific, measurable steps that builders can employ to make sure the house will reach its full potential for durability, comfort and efficiency.
Builders can be reluctant to try new things. That’s understandable, because they’re the ones left holding the bag when something doesn’t go right. But the practices and principles behind green building are now well enough understood that risks are minimal. The payoff can be very rewarding for both the builder and the homeowner.