East Texas builder explains growth in green construction efforts

East Texas builder explains growth in green construction efforts
East Texas builder Robert Aiken said insulation is key in reducing energy costs (Source: KLTV News Staff).
East Texas builder Robert Aiken said insulation is key in reducing energy costs (Source: KLTV News Staff).
A growth in sustainable construction has some builders changing their methods (Source: KLTV News Staff).
A growth in sustainable construction has some builders changing their methods (Source: KLTV News Staff).

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - More homes are going green according to the U.S Green Building Council, the organization that oversees sustainable building efforts and certification.

Texas has even climbed the ranks of states with green building projects, which has some contractors changing how they operate. More homebuyers looking  for green properties in hopes of saving some green - money that is - through energy efficiency, according to the council.

East Texas builder Robert Aiken said parts of the U.S. have been resistant to green or sustainable efforts primarily because of a common misconception about temperature.

"People think cold air is one of those things you need to look after and make better insulated and spend more time on better quality equipment, but in the South it's the same thing, just heat instead of cold," Aiken said.

That is starting to change, Aiken said. More East Texans are looking to add green elements and energy efficient material to their homes. He added that new methods in home construction are sealing houses better to prevent air from leaking, but that also leads to a problem - stagnant air. Aiken noted that in several of his projects, he has installed energy recovery ventilation systems which bring in fresh air and exhaust stale air. He said some items, like flooring or cabinets made with environmentally safe materials, are slowly making their way into more places.

"(Those products) cost a little more, yes, because right now it's a rarity," Aiken said.

He added that the costs to build a green home are mostly on par with standard houses, and have a long-term benefit. He explained one of the wall construction techniques saving energy and money.

"You're eliminating about a third of the studs out of the wall, that's a cost savings in itself, the extra insulation you're putting in does cost more money, but it reduces the heating and cooling load on the house," Aiken said.

The U.S. Green Building Council published in its most recent survey of green projects that more than 13.8 billion square feet have been LEED certified in the country, including 52 million square feet in Texas in 2015. Texas ranked eighth on the council's 2015 list of states with the most green projects.

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