Green home building can refer to lower energy bills, indoor air quality, use of recycled building materials, overhangs for shade and protection, sensitivity to the surrounding land, and much more. Home builders of all stripes, from national powerhouses focused on affordable suburban communities to family-owned builders of Memorial mansions, are going green. A number of them have a strong focus on energy-efficiency. Some Houston-area builders are seeking the rigorous LEED certification, which rates a commercial or a residential building on criteria such as energy savings. Houston builder Scott Frankel says his firm has registered 25 homes for LEED certification. It may cost his clients $15,000 to $20,000 more to build LEED but it adds much more than that in terms of energy savings, durability, and resale value, he says. Ranging from $750,000 to $3 million, their homes have high-efficiency furnaces, tank-less water heaters, and dual-speed air conditioning condensing units. Several large home building companies in Houston are focused more on energy efficiency. “All Perry Homes meet or exceed ENERGY STAR specifications,” says Jerry Zamzow, chief financial officer of Perry Homes. Developed by the Environmental Protection Agency, ENERGY STAR criteria include effective heating and cooling equipment and insulation and high-performance windows. On April 6, Meritage Homes opened an “Extreme Energy Efficient” Community in Cinco Ranch in Katy, Texas. The ENERGY STAR qualified homes cut utility consumption dramatically, says C.R. Heelo, vice president for environmental affairs at Meritage homes. It costs Meritage about 10 percent more to build using energy efficient homes, but the houses remain competitively priced, he notes. David Weekly, founder and chairman of David Weekly Homes, said the homes he is building now compared with five years ago are twice as energy efficient. His energy-efficient ENERGY STAR qualified homes cost $3,000 to $5,000 more to build but home owners spend less per month to own one because of lower energy usage. He adds that his homes come with an energy usage guarantee. | Read More