Green Building on Maui
In home construction and remodeling, there is no bigger buzz word than green building. And going green doesn’t have to mean buying a yurt and living in Haiku. The topic has been spotlighted at national builders’ trade shows, and about 50 cities have green building programs that can educate homeowners on environmentally friendly and energy-conserving ways of outfitting a house and link them with local experts in making a home green.
Maui is such a unique and special island and we have such limited resources, green building is catching on quickly, from developers providing solar water heating in their new developments to complete homes being constructed from bamboo and generating their power from the wind. Choosing to build green on Maui can begin when buying your Maui real estate. Making choices about how much sunlight you will get, how much wind ect... can make a huge difference when the building process begins.
Anybody, of course, can call a building green. To impose accountability, the United States Green Building Council — usgbc.org — created a rating system called LEED, for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, to measure the degree to which buildings incorporate green practices and materials. The system is in use for larger buildings, and a version for new single-family homes is likely to be rolled out in the summer.
For second-home owners, the prospect of going green can be very appealing, whether they are remodeling a second home in Kihei, trying to eliminate drafty windows and heating bills in Olinda, or simply creating an easy-to-maintain house that might one day change from vacation retreat to retirement home.
As green construction goes mainstream, architects and builders are becoming better versed in environmentally friendly construction, and new green products are increasing the choices — thus lowering the prices — for elements like floors and countertops.
Lowering energy costs over the long haul is what often drives homeowners to green building, and many people consider installing photovoltaic solar panels, which can generate electricity.
Green building is also getting attention from those who, either because of health concerns or an interest in environmental stewardship, want to reduce their exposure to potentially harmful chemicals in their homes. Finishes on floors and cabinets as well as paints that are dubbed “no V.O.C.” (for volatile organic compound) or “low V.O.C.” appeal to those homeowners. Such products are now easy to find, most of the major paint companies are doing a low-toxicity line.
Bamboo floors are a popular option, but there are many other possibilities for home surfaces. They include: countertops made from 100 percent recycled paper bound with resin; cork floors made from scraps gathered from wine-cork manufacturers; and wood floors certified by the Forest Stewardship Council as having been harvested from a well-managed forest.
Buying from local sources may also be eco-friendly because of the fuel saved in transportation. Why not use old antique hardwood pine from a demolished building, that makes a great floor, whereas a bamboo floor might have to be shipped in from halfway around the world.