Arlington Designer Homes is committed to green building for the health benefits, energy savings, and reduced environmental footprint it provides for our buyers and our community. With constantly changing regulations, technologies and products, buidling a new green home from the ground up isn't always easy - but it's always interesting!

Welcome to our behind-the-scenes blog about green building and remodeling, where you can watch a green home go up step-by-step and learn about using green building techniques for your own home. And visit our website at to learn even more about green building and remodeling.

April 24, 2013

Comparing Green Building Certification Programs

A few weeks ago, I was asked to speak at the Arlington Chamber of Commerce about green building programs, and so I've spent some time recently thinking about and researching all the different green programs available to us in Northern Virginia. There are four programs that are the most well-known and often-used in Northern Virginia, and Arlington especially. In no particular order, they are:
Energy Star appliances are just one aspect
of Energy Star 3.0 certification.
Over my next few blogs, I'll talk a bit more about each of these programs, so this is just a quick overview to start us off.
All four programs rely on the EPA's Energy Star program in some way, shape or form. One ofArlington Designer Homes, all our homes are Energy Star certified, and it is certainly the easiest way to demonstrate that you have met a particular program's energy requirements. But because Energy Star certification is not required for Home Innovations certification, it gives the builder and homeowner more flexibility in using a variety of green features to meet certification requirements. And with all the new green building technologies available to us today, there are so many different ways to make a house more energy efficient!  All of the other programs require Energy Star certification to certify a home at a certain level. (I will talk more about Energy Star 3.0 in my next blog.)
the reasons that I like Home Innovation’s green rating system is that it allows you to certify a house without it being certified Energy Star 3.0. At
A solar water heater is another green feature that helps
improve energy efficiency and earn a home's green certification.
There are many more things that unite green certification programs than divide them. All of the programs mentioned above have categories covering different types of green features - you can refer to our blog from May 19th, 2011, to review basic categories for the Home Innovations certification program (formerly NAHB Research Center). All of the programs rely on Energy Star in
some way. And most importantly, all these programs require strict third party certifications.
Our green rater always performs a blower
door test.
Arlington Designer Homes works with Kelly Ross from Kelly Green Raters to help us certify HERS energy rater to help us quantify total home energy use. Kelly uses sophisticated computer modeling to show how the house will perform and what energy savings we can anticipate over the life of our homes. Most of our homes come in with a HERS rating of close to 50. This means that we are constructing houses that are set to run on almost half as much energy as a conventionally built home.
our green homes. Together we rely on a
All the major green building certification programs share the same goal - to encourage builders and homeowners to choose more efficient, sustainable ways to live. Some of these choices are as easy as switching out a light bulb. Others are more complicated, like designing a whole house energy package. Green programs offer us a map to help guide us towards more environmentally friendly alternatives and greater savings, comfort and health for our customers.

April 2, 2013

Unique Green Home First Completed Under Arlington's Special Use Permit

We are very proud to have just finished building one of the greenest houses in the county! 

This unique single-family home, located on the first pipestem lot to be developed in Arlington County under a new special use permit process, features a living green roof and an advanced storm water management system.

Green Living Roof Under Construction
The new 3,100 square foot, 4 bedroom, 3 ½ bath home, located at 2617 N. Nottingham St., is the first house built under Arlington County’s Use Permit process, established after the county changed its zoning ordinances for pipestem lots. The permit process included extensive collaboration among Arlington Designer Homes, county staff, neighbors and community members, and resulted in a green design that is truly one of a kind.

Responding to county and neighborhood priorities, we committed to extensive storm water management techniques and practices. Our new home showcases what in-fill construction of the future will look like. In fact, the lot will produce less storm water runoff post-construction than it did prior to development.

These storm water management techniques include multiple rain gardens, native plants and grasses, permeable pavers and a living green roof. The Liveroof® system is a modular system where sedum plants that serve to absorb rain and protect the roof are grown in trays and then transported to the building site ready to go. The advantage to this system is that you can install a fully planted green roof in a day.

The house also features an advanced insulation package including both cellulose and spray foam insulation, Energy Star Jeld-wen windows, a high-efficiency furnace with a heat pump, 1.28 gallon per flush toilets, pre-finished flooring and siding, and PVC trim for a low maintenance exterior. It will be certified under the Energy Star 3.0, Arlington County Green Home Choice, and Home Innovation NGBS Green Certified programs (expected).

Our new green home located at 2617 North Nottingham Street in Arlington will be open to the public and prospective buyers this Sunday, April 7, from 1pm to 4pm. Come check it out!