There are many different types of green home building companies, green architects and green homebuilders. It is vital to first determine what you mean by green, before you look for a builder. There are degrees and types of green construction, which are much more varied than any other kind of home construction. The main variables are in materials and design.
Which green builders and architects you choose, will be determined by which type of green construction you want to use. Almost all green builders specialize in only a few related materials. Deciding which type of materials interest you and selecting a style will help you select a builder.
• Traditional (Energy Efficient Structure) – Traditional stick built home with enough insulation to provide maximum energy efficiency. The green home building companies use closed cell insulation and radiant barrier to make these homes among the most energy efficient. This type of builder is very common.
• Natural Green Materials – Building homes of earth, straw, wood, rice panels, bamboo, or stone. All these materials are natural, and while wood and stone are common, their uses in natural green homes are different than in traditional style. Unique use of materials is part of Green thought. Using Straw as an insulator, preferably with some exterior material to seal it off, works well, but one must remember that straw does deteriorate. Earth is a great building material in dry weather. Adobe homes are very durable in dry sunny climates. Even brick are basically earth, and so fired earthen brick work well in all climates. Unfired earth in a damp climate however does not work well.
• Manufactured Green Housing – Manufactured green homes can vary considerably. It can mean using a grain silo, or shipping container for a home. It can include homes made from Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (AAC), Structural Insulated Panels (SIP), Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF), Shotcrete, and Steel. It could also mean any sort of kit, or even a modular home if it were energy efficient.
• Affordable Green Homes – Any means of creating a home for considerably less is considered green. This includes the use of pre-existing structures, structures or materials intended for other purposes or unusual materials. Old railroad cars, shipping containers, or any of the other green materials used in such a way as to create a home for much less than other homes, is one of the goals of green housing.
• Reclaimed or Recycled – The use of any waste products, or found objects in your home construction is considered very green.
• Ferro Cement – Involves spraying or spreading Portland cement over a steal frame, or over pumice stone, or even over Styrofoam insulation.
• Lightweight Concrete – Similar to Ferro-cement in application, Lightweight concrete uses special light weight aggregates, such as pumice stone, volcanic cinders and diatomite. Alternatively it can contain foaming agents such as aluminum powder. Because these materials have pores they act as closed cell insulation, rather than a solid sheet. They are much better insulators than concrete or Portland cement, and because they are lighter, they require less steel reinforcement.
• Papercrete – Papercrete is a lightweight concrete that uses paper for an aggregate. Papercrete absorbs water. Other than that, it is a great building material, but water absorption gives it unusual properties which may not work as well in damp areas.
The internet is your best resource in finding a green home builder to suit your needs. By doing searches for green home builders, or searching for specific materials you can find builders in your area. There are many listings. The U.S. Green Building Council has a widely varied list of green builders, and the National Association of Home Builders also have a substantial ‘green list.’ These types of organizations have standards and a certain amount of background checking involved.
Companies which deal in the specific green materials you are interested in may also have lists of builders who can construct homes made of that material. Architects who design homes of that type may also be familiar with some builders who use materials they design with.
Unfortunately in some locations it may be difficult to find a local builder, who can provide you with the sort of home you want. By using the internet you may be able to find a builder or a home building company who would be willing to come to your area. Since some forms of green building do not take a long period of time, they may be willing to send out a crew to put up your shell, even if they are from far away.
Even though Green construction has been around for at least 50 years, and is widely accepted in some other parts of the world, it is only recently that it has become prevalent in the United States. It is also true that green is being redefined by the modern green builders. New materials and techniques are taking the lead, especially in the form of manufactured panels. Energy efficient traditional builders are very easy to find, and that concept has been readily accepted, while other forms of green construction are still struggling for acceptance. There is still quite a bit of prejudice in some areas against freeform concrete and natural material architecture. You may have some difficulty getting a permit, and a loan with some of the more non traditional approaches to green. However the savings, durability and sustainability might be worth fighting city hall.
Green homes are here to stay. It is in many ways the decade of the green revolution. If the ideals of energy efficiency, saving on construction costs, and building a truly unique and uncommonly durable home appeal to you, it is defiantly worth shopping around for. Green home building companies, green builders and green architects of all kinds can be found if you are willing to commit to building a green home.