The internet abounds with resources for finding sustainable materials, suppliers, and vendors. The dearth of choices will seem overwhelming. How do you choose a green contractor or supplier that meets your needs and desire to build a sustainable and “green” home?
Ultimately, you will find that any home project in sustainability will have both a domino and trickle effect.
One step or revision towards sustainability may necessitate another step or revision towards sustainability. Even if you are using the right processes, the wrong materials could counteract the environmental rewards of your project. A properly trained contractor can keep you informed and keep your project manageable under the necessary guidelines.
Each step or revision towards sustainability will have a cumulative effect. This can lead to greater savings, a smaller carbon footprint, and a more beautiful home.
The right contractor can keep your project manageable and ensure certified guidelines for a sustainable home.
Start with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) [http://www.usgbc.org/]. They are an excellent resource to find information, vendors, and suppliers. The USGBC manages the most widely recognized program for sustainable building: Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Program. It’s a certification program for any kind of construction. While largely dominated by commercial building, it does include certification for homes.
Their website includes a directory of members, volunteers, and chapters around the country, as well as a project directory of LEED certified constructions. The projects are an excellent place to start when it comes to finding a contractor. Often the businesses are listed, along with their credentials. For homes, look specifically for the LEED for Homes Project Directory.
Keep in mind that only individuals are certified, not the businesses themselves. So if you hire a company for your renovation, check to see if those working on your project are LEED certified. There are two types of certification: LEED Green Associate and LEED AP. An LEED Green Associate has undergone the LEED training and examination. An LEED AP has documented experience working on or leading an LEED registered or certified project.
Another resource is the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) [http://www.nahb.org/]. They have a Directory of Professionals with Home Building Designations. It is searchable by location and field of expertise.
Green-Buildings.com is a free online community of experts and professionals in “green” building. It has excellent articles about how to find contractors and sustainable materials, as well as new and innovative technologies in the field. It also serves as a resource for building and construction professionals. There is a thorough listing of available services.
One final thought to keep in mind is that LEED (or any other) certifications mean that the individuals have passed the requisite examinations and conditions. It is not necessarily an endorsement of their business credentials. It is always a wise practice when hiring to undertake the same research and precautions as you would for any other business endeavor.