Best Practices for Building Green Homes



Green building is a holistic approach that encompasses the complete building process to include site preparation, home design, sustainable materials, sound construction methods, environmentally sensitive landscaping, and waste management. The goal of building green homes is to reduce the impact on the environment of the inherently disruptive home-building process and to deliver to our homeowners high-quality, energy-efficient homes.

Site Preparation

Site preparation starts with the selection of the appropriate house plan to best fit on the property and to meet zoning requirements. Drainage, house orientation, and minimum tree impact are important factors. Consideration is also given to the driveway and utility locations to minimize the potential for root disturbance. The plans submitted to the city include tree-save areas, drainage patterns, erosion fencing, and recompense calculations for tree removal and replacement. House foundations are located to ensure minimum excavation, minimum material usage, and efficient drainage away from the structure. Water run-off is contained on site.

Home Design

The overall design of the homes takes into consideration the standard wood lengths so all homes have eight-foot ceilings and utilize engineered floor joists and roof trusses in even dimensions to minimize off-cut waste. The wall studs are 24” on center to maximize lumber usage while meeting building codes. We utilize advanced framing techniques to minimize lumber scrap for all headers and ensure adequate insulation at wall corners. Non-load-bearing walls have non-structural headers. The window and door headers also include foam insulation for reduced wood and increased insulation. To minimize hot and cold water runs, plumbing fixtures are located as centrally as possible and close to the water heater. All gas-fired water heaters are located in a sealed enclosure with combustion air vents to the exterior.

Sustainable Materials

All Atlanta Habitat homes are finished on the exterior with Hardiplank siding, an engineered cementitious product with superior durability. The windows are vinyl-clad, double-pane with a U factor of 0.34. The exterior doors are insulated metal doors that have superior strength, longevity, and increased insulation compared to wood doors. The attics are insulated with blown-in insulation that provides superior coverage and generates zero waste. To conserve water usage, all faucets, toilets, and laundry appliances are low-flow fixtures. All concrete used on site contains a minimum of 25% fly ash, which is a waste product from coal power plants and results in a better concrete product. We also use OSB (Oriented Strand Board) for the floor decking, roof decking, and sheathing. This product is made of scrap wood glued together. The shingles are 25-year warranty for increased durability.

Sound Construction Methods

Construction incorporates numerous green building best practices. Each home has two layers of blue foam insulation on the exterior to increase the R-factor assembly and to provide an increased vapor and exterior air barrier to infiltration. The walls are insulated with R- 13 insulation batts, and all penetrations are caulked with expanding foam to further reduce exterior air infiltration. The framing of all walls is completed in our warehouse in panelized sections to minimize lumber waste and ensure quality control for all components.

Environmentally Sensitive Landscaping

Each house is landscaped with plants and grasses designed to be drought tolerant. All lots are planted with additional trees.

Waste Management

Construction debris that can be ground up is utilized on site. The ground-up drywall is used to enrich the soil; off-cut lumber, tree branches and stumps are chipped for use as landscaping mulch, and ground-up roofing shingles are used for base under the driveways and walkways. We also recycle cardboard, metals, and drink containers.