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Sheep Dog Hollow: an eco-friendly renovation

Green renovation – go it alone or hire an expert?

Do you need an environmental expert to guide you in a green home renovation?

By / October 27, 2009

Martin Sheridan considers the work and cost of installing a geothernmal heating unit at Sheep Dog Hollow, a 1902 farmhouse that was abandoned and is now being restored.

Joanne Ciccarello/Staff/The Christian Science Monitor


I begin this post with a confession. I have not yet hired a “green expert” to guide us as we undertake the massive renovation of Sheep Dog Hollow. The primary reason is that we are also trying to do it in a budget-conscious way. (We definitely don’t want to go broke in the process.)

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Alexandra writes about the "green" and budget-friendly renovation of a 100-year-old farmhouse in south-central Connecticut.

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I figured that with the resources available on the Internet and wise counsel from friends, colleagues, and experienced contractors, we could figure out how to go green ourselves and save some money.

And then I remembered the idiom "penny wise, pound foolish." And so I began to research how I’d go about finding a “green expert” as well as the rationale for using one.

The most obvious one, of course, is that such a consultant will already know (or at least is supposed to know) what he or she is doing. Green Advantage, a “collaboration between the Nature Conservancy, Science Applications International Corp., and the University of Florida,” provides green certification for builders.

It sums up the advantages of hiring a green certified builder this way:

Green Advantage building practitioners have proven knowledge about green building techniques and approaches that use:
• Overview of the green building industry/green building materials.
• Energy- and water-efficient building technologies.
• Sustainable construction technologies that enhance disaster resistance and resistance to termites and other biological hazards.
• Healthy construction methods that improve air quality and the health of building occupants.
• Land planning, land development, and land management practices that protect wildlife habitats, soil, and water, and foster biodiversity.

They’ve also got a handy site where you can locate a Green Advantage-certified builder. I duly put in my ZIP Code and found, to my dismay, that there was only one Green Advantage-certified residential builder within 50 miles of Sheep Dog, and they were in a different state.

It turns out that only about 6,000 builders and contractors nationwide are certified by Green Advantage.

The real big foot in green building is the US Green Building Council, which developed the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design ) rating system. It has almost 20,000 members, and they, too, have a handy site where you can locate LEED-certified builders, engineers, and architects.

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