A growing number of buyers are seeking houses with “green” features that can help save money on utilities or protect the environment. According to McGraw Hill’s “The State of Green Building” survey, sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders, 33 percent of new home builders will build 90 percent of their projects to a green standard by 2016. The Energy Star program is backed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which certifies that homes are at least 20 percent to 30 percent more efficient than standard homes. To receive this certification, houses must be measured for efficiency in their insulation systems, water pipes, heating, and air conditioning. Energy Star works with at least four certification programs, some of which are more focused on sustainability, while others are concentrated on monetary savings. Potential buyers should examine the claimed certification to see that it fits the criteria they want. Florida’s real estate industry does not have a legal definition of what is a green home and what makes a certification program legitimate. However, the state’s legislature approved three certification programs in 2008: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council; the Florida Green Building Coalition; and the National Green Building Standard, sponsored by NAHB. Unlike most other standards, the Florida Green Building Coalition looks for homes designed with climate criteria, meaning that the buildings are designed to work most efficiently in their climate. | Read More