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Green Building News

A Green Evolution in Western Virginia

EarthCraft House’s certification program has long focused on promoting construction techniques that result in tightly sealed building envelopes and mechanical systems (click here for a 62-page PDF of its technical guide). Building professionals in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley say the EarthCraft philosophy has taken root there in part because many prospective homebuyers now have higher expectations for energy efficiency in new homes.
Image Credit: EarthCraft House

Signs that energy efficient construction is gaining a foothold in the Shenandoah Valley

It is hard to tell exactly who is leading the way — the homebuyers, the builders, or publicity about green homes in general — but there’s evidence the energy efficient mind-set has taken root in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, where EarthCraft-certified homes are becoming more abundant and where homebuyers are abandoning the notion that energy efficient construction is only for the wealthy.

A recent story in the Daily News Record, based in Harrisonburg, cites local builder Aaron Yoder’s interest in highlighting the level of efficiency that can be achieved with a tightly sealed shell, good insulation, and properly sealed ductwork – even if renewable energy systems, which he calls “green bling,” are not in place.

Certified under the EarthCraft House Virginia builder program and the National Association of Home Builders’ Green Professional program, Yoder built a 2,400 sq. ft. spec house, in a subdivision called Wyndham Woods, that he says requires about 40% less energy to operate than a conventionally built home of comparable size.

Yoder says he currently is using the spec house, which he completed last year and is priced at $399,000, as a demonstration tool for prospective clients (who can compare its features to a $369,000 listing nearby).

The New Record story also points out that Central Valley Habitat for Humanity has been building EarthCraft homes in the region for three years, and recently began work on its seventh EarthCraft house in the area.

Johann Zimmerman, construction manager for CVHH, told the paper that for two of those homes, achieving EarthCraft certification added about $3,000 each to their construction cost, and that the largest total utility bill at one of the homes this winter was $107.

Benjamin Meredith, a local inspector for EarthCraft and Energy Star who certified Yoder’s spec home, noted that about 600 homes in the Valley that are now in some stage of construction or planning will receive EarthCraft certification.

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