Green renovation – go it alone or hire an expert?
Do you need an environmental expert to guide you in a green home renovation?
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There I found 30 LEED-certified people in the state of Connecticut. Unfortunately, many were with large construction corporations and architectural firms, folks I knew were out of our price range.Skip to next paragraph
Alexandra writes about the "green" and budget-friendly renovation of a 100-year-old farmhouse in south-central Connecticut.
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I was also surprised that I didn’t find any of the people that I’d already been referred to as local pioneers in green building, such as the engineer who had built his own green home using wood and stone he harvested from the building site or the heating and air conditioning contractor who’d been putting in geothermal systems for the past 20 years. (You’ll meet both of these folks in the next few months.)
I also began to understand the complexity of acquiring a LEED rating for our home. First, you need to have a LEED-certified person involved in the project from start to finish, documenting everything from the early design to the working conditions for the carpenters, concrete pourers, etc., to the final interior air quality.
The documentation in itself could add thousands to the cost, to say nothing of the tens of thousands that hiring an LEED-certified architect would add.
I soon found that others were sharing my hesitancy. Fast Company, a business and technology magazine, sums up some of the problems with LEED certification and its costs in this article. My favorite graph:
In February, the mayor of Park City, Utah, told a building-industry publication, "On the Park City Ice Arena [$4.8 million project cost], we built it according to LEED criteria, but then we realized that [certification] was going to cost $27,500. So we ordered three small wind turbines instead that will power the arena's Zamboni."
One of the arguments in favor of using a LEED-certified expert and getting certification is that it’s a good marketing tool.
But since we are building this as our home, not an investment with a dollar value that could be increased by having a LEED rating, my instinct is to forgo the official certification and just use the LEED system as a guide.
I’m willing to be convinced otherwise, but for now, at least, we’re going to go-it-alone-green.
Editor's note: Alexandra Marks will be blogging twice a week about her green and budget-friendly restoration of a 1902 farmhouse in Connecticut. See a photo gallery of the early days of the project by clicking here.