Yorkville, IL in Kendall County is a fast-growing treasure, a beautiful hidden community just minutes outside of the well-known cities of Naperville, Aurora, Plainfield and it is fast moving in the Green direction. So fast in fact, that it’s neighbors to the east may not catch up.
Well under way as one of Yorkville’s driving forces is the volunteer-based Green Committee. This advisory committee to the City Council, formed by Mayor Valerie Burd in 2007, meets monthly to discuss ways to enhance the community environment and ways to equip and encourage citizens and businesses to participate in sustainable ecological practices. Topics like water conservation, recycling, tree preservation, and building guidelines to name a few, are researched and discussed in order to prepare proposals for the City Council to consider.
I think that it is essential that forward thinking cities such as Yorkville should consider offering incentives for residential builders to build green homes. As the first builder in Yorkville and Kendall County to become a Certified Green Professional by the NAHB, I see green building as more than a trend; a new direction of our human lives. Two recently released studies, one by the New Buildings Institute (NBI) and one by CoStar Group, resulted in the following: Third-party-certified buildings outperform their conventional counterparts across a wide variety of metrics, including energy savings, occupancy rates, sale price and rental rates. In fact Green homes on average are performing 25 to 30 percent better than non-certified buildings in terms of energy use. Energy savings under EPA's Energy Star® program are equally impressive: Buildings that have earned the Energy Star® label use an average of almost 40 percent less energy than average buildings and emit 35 percent less carbon. Then, of course there is the improved indoor air quality.
Buildings are complicated systems, and achieving and maintaining high performance is a process that requires the ongoing discipline and commitment to green practices. LEED, NAHB (Certified Green Professional program) and Energy Star® provide building owners and operators with valuable structure to maintain high performance and deliver savings over time. But beyond the obvious implications of reduced energy use and reduced carbon emissions, the results from both studies strengthen the business case for green buildings as financially sound investments.
So why hasn’t more home builders moved in this direction? Is it the fear of the unknown? There is more than enough information out there for any builder to become educated in building a quality home. Is it the cost? If more home builders take this step, perhaps the prices of the products such as solar panels or on-demand water heaters will come down. In addition, the “payback” is a selling point for the homeowner. Either way, I believe that homeowners are demanding more out of the biggest investment of their lives as well they should. No one should settle for cold, leaky homes that cost too much in utilities. A non-Energy Star® or Green home has built-in obsolescence and aren’t we all tired of that concept? I believe that this is a direction that Yorkville, and Kendall County should encourage its builders to take and if it means offering incentives like lower permit costs, so be it.
CL Design-Build, Inc. has been building Energy Star® custom homes since 2000 and in 2008 became a Certified Green Professional by the NAHB. We are committed to designing and building quality homes that will be sustainable and beautiful.