Remodeling Novice: A Verifier Takes on a Green Renovation Project

Filed in Design, Remodelers by on February 8, 2017 2 Comments

This blog post is part of a series that will examine building projects certified to the National Green Building Standard (NGBS). More information about this project is available here.    

Thiel Butner wanted a single-family rental in downtown Frederick, Md. She was also eager to undergo her first green home remodeling project. As a green building verifier — not a builder — Butner was excited to see the other side of the process.

“I wanted to get a taste of what we put everyone else through,” she said with a laugh. She went for the Emerald Level NGBS green certification for this 500-square-foot home remodel.

She got a mouthful.

“Everything was challenging”said Thiel, who served as the general contractor. “We peeled back layers of the house and realized it needed a full gut.”

Without a list of subcontractors on speed dial, Thiel worked hard find people with whom she felt comfortable. She used referrals whenever possible and was pleased with their work overall.

It was also challenging to take on a green remodeling project in a historic area, Butner noted. There were a lot of parameters about changing the windows, doors and framing. At the same time, incorporating features from the original 150-year-old home added character.

“We blended elements like the old wood and brick,” she said. “This gave it a lot of texture.”

Other green updates included a garden with native and drought-tolerant plants; a ductless HVAC (heat pump mini splits); efficient appliances; a metal roof with insulation; and gutters to drain away water.

As for materials, Butner salvaged items from Craigslist, Habitat ReStore, and her family and friends. She wanted the most durable, low-maintenance materials she could find, to minimize upkeep later.

“Overall, I was excited for how it all came together,” Butner said. “The tenants are happy because their utility bills are low, and it’s a comfortable, easy place to live.”

Read more green case studies and contact Megan Carroll at 800-368-5242 x8325 for more information.


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Comments (2)

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  1. Harry Gray says:

    I’m curious about how long it takes to recoup your investment on a green house? I know they cost a lot of money to build and save money monthly but how long does it realistically take to recoup your investment and say you are actually “saving money?”

    • NAHB Now says:

      The costs of building green depend on many factors, such as the types of sustainable features included, the building methods used, and the geographic location of the home. More information about the financial costs can be found on pages 9-12 of the Green SmartMarket Report: (NAHB served as a partner in creating this report). The report shows that people who build more green homes incur less costs because they have become more efficient. The report also details what consumers are willing to pay for a green home.

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