HGTV’s eco-home goes lean and green

May 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips


There are many reasons to go green, whether building a new home or renovating an existing one. You’ll save money when you make your systems function more efficiently, and you’ll have a warm glow of satisfaction at saving the planet one solar-water heater at a time.

A beautifully seductive billboard for the merits of green building, the striking house that cable channel HGTV built sits on a hill in the 1,000-acre Chattahoochee Hills, Ga., community of Serenbe, 30 minutes from Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

The three-bedroom, 2 ½-bath home will be awarded to one sweepstakes winner in late June and will be open for public tours through June 24. For chances to enter the sweepstakes, go to by Atlanta architect Steve Kemp, of Kemp Hall Studio, the HGTV Green Home 2012 is a 21st-century spin on the classic American farmhouse, a combination of nostalgia and forward-thinking green values evident in features such as solar panels to generate electricity.

The HGTV Green Home illustrates a new approach toward green. While in the past, green building might have meant using low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint and Energy Star appliances, the approach to green is becoming much more holistic, encompassing a lifestyle that embraces existing with less space, living in a home longer, and, best-case scenario, locating your home in a green-friendly community.

Tiffany Barcik is an architect with Atlanta’s Moon Bros. Architects, which has built three homes at Serenbe. All Serenbe homes are by design “green” because they have to adhere to EarthCraft principles and take advantage of the community’s commitment to sustainability.

“It’s not just individual houses trying to be green, it’s a whole community,” Barcik said.

With the economy affecting the way people think of home buying, there have been philosophical shifts that will impact the green movement.

One of the key green features of the HGTV home is its size. “Building smaller is the best green thing to do,” Kemp said.

“I would say that the one thing we pushed in this home was challenging how much space we really need,” Kemp said. “Having a maximum-efficiency geothermal system and you’re still heating and cooling 5,000-6,000 square feet? If you can live the same way in 3,000 or 2,000 square feet, then you have gone way beyond anything you can do with any particular system.”

What contractors, designers and architects recommend most often is that homeowners spend a little money up front in building or renovating a home, for greater cost savings and quality of life down the road.

“Everyone needs to start thinking about value,” said Georgia Muncaster, an architectural designer at Kemp Hall.

Green building tips

Tiffany Barcik, an architect at Moon Bros. Architects who is a LEED-accredited professional and EarthCraft-trained, offered these green building tips.

• Take your site into account and how rain flow, wind and orientation will impact heating, cooling and irrigation around your home.

• Consider setting up your home for solar power even if you don’t plan on using it right away.

• Companies such as Metlund offer hot-water circulation systems that recirculate cold water while you wait for your hot water to kick in. The result is instant hot water without water waste. The system can be installed in both new homes and during a home renovation.

• Explore solar water heating, a fairly easy feature to integrate in either a new home or a renovation project.

• Look at low-VOC in not just rugs, paint and finishes, but also in cabinetry, which can off-gas dangerous substances such as formaldehyde for the life of the cabinet.

• In the future, as water conservation rises in prominence, homeowners should consider a gray-water recycling system like those made by Brac Systems in which used shower water or laundry water (gray water) is used to flush toilets or irrigate.

• Choose the most efficient and properly sized HVAC for your needs. A variable-speed air handler system is often a good choice for a more comfortable and efficient cooling system and is generally cheaper to operate.

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