What is green construction?

Why does Benchmark Builders believe in green construction?

Because it’s the right thing to do. We build green to protect our clients and ourselves from the hazardous chemicals found in many building materials. A green home is simply healthier. It’s more comfortable for it’s inhabitants and it will cost less to operate.

What does green construction mean to Benchmark?

It means using techniques and materials that are sustainable. Our building process creates the lowest possible carbon footprint and the finished home is extremely energy efficient. For example, we’ll use framing techniques that use less wood. We’ll buy locally-sourced lumber and we’ll separate all the material so it can be re-purposed or recycled later.

Are Benchmark clients asking for green homes?

Yes. All our projects are built using sustainable construction techniques. It’s just what we do.

What about the additional cost?

It’s true that sustainably-sourced materials can be a bit more expensive. They might add 10-15% to the total cost. But building the house using green materials is the same. The most important thing is to start with a design that’s inspired by the site, make the most of natural light and passive solar, and build the house tight with highly-rated insulation and windows. If we do all that, the homeowner is going to have a huge payback on future energy costs that will quickly and far exceed the additional expense in green materials.

I’m on a budget. What can I do?

Building green isn’t just about new construction. You can make a huge difference to your existing home. Install double-pane windows. Add insulation. Go with solar, geo-thermal, or radiant heat. These small projects can make a huge difference in your energy bill, your comfort, and your peace of mind.

What are some interesting green design innovations?

Every aspect of the building industry has done extensive research and development on green design, from roofing to the foundation to natural wool carpet. Two of our favorite innovations are Faswall construction blocks, which are made from recycled wood palettes and ground- up concrete with rigid insulation inside. Also, SIP Panels are Structural Insulated Panels that eliminate most framing materials and create a completely tight, incredibly energy-efficient home.

Is everything green, or do you have to make compromises?

There are ways to do everything sustainably, but sometimes we do have to compromise because some green products just aren’t as durable. For example, VOC-free paints are just as good as the old toxic versions. Eco-friendly wood finishes, however, still don’t hold up to the solvent- based ones. The technology isn’t there yet. In this situation, we’ll offer both choices to our client.

What are some simple green changes anyone can do?

You can get a free energy audit from your utility company to find out how to keep your energy bills down. If you add insulation to your attic, the utility might pay for as much as 75% of the cost. When you replace an appliance, make sure it’s rated well by ENERGY STAR. And of course, you can easily change your lightbulbs to compact fluorescents.