If you want to become green you have to choose a path to follow. There are many. Some of the participants use Earth Craft House, some go the way of SIPS (wall panels made of OSB or plywood around a foam shell.) Some go the way of LEEDS, a current leader in commercial development. For our group we wanted a path that was flexible enough to be rapidly learned by and integrated by local builders, and stringent enough to ensure the integrity of our program and constructed units. After much investigation and deliberation we chose the program from the NAHB or National Association of Home Builders. We started by adopting the guidelines for the program and soon will switch over to the Green Building Standards, which will roll out in February at the national homebuilder convention. Our program is dedicated to and requires compliance in the seven areas of green construction. We use a point system to certify compliance, along with a rigorous inspection and onsite testing of the product including blower door testing to ensure sealing of the envelope as well as duct blaster and other testing.
I am including a link to our local Green Building Program site, www.columbiagreenbuilders.com You can see all it has to offer and also link to some of the NAHB resources.
As for myself I wanted to build a green home that looked like a home, not a spaceship or earthship or anything weird. I went back toward a traditional home look for a couple of reasons. I wanted it to be classy, with a feel for an earlier time. I knew that a classic shape would build more efficiently than something radical. I wanted to prove to myself that you could do a traditional classic home while still incorporating green techniques. Also, if you look into history a bit, classic design tailored to a certain region of the country is inherently green. Old southern mansions have large 2 story porches that face to the south. That configuration allows winter sun to enter the structure, while shading the summer sun for a cooling effect. Northern climates utilize higher roof lines to help get the snow off. Southwestern architecture uses the natural materials and characteristics of that area to the fullest advantage. The good thing about green is that it does enhance any design theme so you don't have to feel that you're not getting what you want.