HGTV Green Home 2008: Eco-Friendly Features

Seven basic areas of sustainability were targeted in the building of HGTV's Green Home 2008. Find out about all seven areas and get eco-friendly ideas for your own home.

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Seven basic sustainability areas were targeted during the building of HGTV's Green Home 2008: innovation and design, location and linkages, sustainable site, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, awareness and education.

Innovation and Design

Anyone can say they are building a green home. The 2008 HGTV Green Home sought out a quantifiable, third party program that would objectively measure the house's sustainability. The project is registered with the US Green Building Council's (USGBC) Leadership in the Energy and Efficient Design for Homes Program (LEED for Homes). LEED for Homes is a green home rating system for ensuring that homes are designed and built to be energy and resource efficient and healthy for occupants. Some of the areas of innovation and design improvements include the following:

Integrated Project Planning - From the outset, designers, energy experts, and construction specialists all worked together to develop a comprehensive approach to the project.

Durability Planning - A comprehensive list of durability issues were identified as key issues that must be addressed and inspected during construction. These included design details that improved the durability of the house by anticipating pests, rot, natural disasters, and controlling water inside and outside of the house.

Location and Linkages

An environmentally sustainable home is one that is conveniently located and connected to the daily services that we all need. A sustainable home makes it easy to walk to the corner store and makes use of existing infrastructure. Tradition is a community that creates this convenience:


Neighborhood Services - Tradition is a community with retail, fitness, dining and offices within walking distance. This reduces reliance on cars and improves convenience.

Golf Cart with Every Home - Tradition provides a golf cart with every home, encouraging cleaner forms of transportation that don't create as much demand for roads and parking.

Open Space - A key part to encouraging a health lifestyle is readily accessible green spaces and parks. Tradition has numerous parks, most of which are interconnected with bike trails and walking paths. This encourages a true neighborhood experience where neighbors meet and interact.

Sustainable Site

Another hallmark of a green home is a beautiful outdoor environment. This means protecting and enhancing the natural beauty of the site through minimal site disturbance, controlling erosion, and beautiful landscaping.

Erosion Control - The design incorporates retaining walls, vegetated swales and other design features to reduce erosion.

Pervious Pavement- Using pavers on the driveway allows rainwater to naturally seep into the ground rather than running to the stormwater system.

Drought Resistant Landscape - Tradition engaged the landscape architecture firm of Pinckney and Associates to design a sustainable outdoor environment. Their design features native plants that are naturally drought tolerant and require less irrigation.

Herbs and Vegetables - Nothing is more sustainable than growing your own food, and the 2008 HGTV Green Home has a small herb and vegetable garden.

Birds and Bees - The landscape includes birdhouses and flowering plants that encourage birds and butterflies to the site.

Limited Turf - By limiting the turf around the house, the amount of time and money invested in maintenance and irrigation is reduced.

Shade Trees - Large canopy trees are planned to cast shade on the patios and driveway to reduce heat buildup on site.

Water Efficiency

2008 HGTV Green Home includes design features that will reduce the overall water consumption by 40% over a conventional home. This not only reduces the utility bill, but reduces the community's total demand for clean water.


Water Reuse - Tradition as a community collects stormwater from streets and stores it in a network of retention ponds. This water is then reused for irrigating of lawns throughout the community.

Water efficient fixtures - Using low-flow toilets reduces water usage while maintaining water pressure. Aerators on sinks and showers are added to reduce water flow.

Water efficient irrigation - Using drought-tolerant and native plants reduces the need for irrigation and fertilization. The irrigation system features a rain sensor that automatically restricts the system during wet weather.

Rainwater Harvesting - 2008 HGTV Green Home collects rainwater from the roof into an underground cistern. The rain water is filtered and used in the toilets to convey sewage.

Energy and Atmosphere

Most people associate a green home with one that is energy efficient. Though there are many other factors that make a house sustainable, energy efficiency is at the heart of the issue. 2008 HGTV Green Home will use about 20% to 30% less power than a conventional home. The following are several ways that 2008 HGTV Green Home accomplishes this savings.

Insulation, Insulation, Insulation - The entire house, including the attic and foundation walls are insulated. The walls and ceilings of the house are insulated with a sprayed foam that expands to fill every cavity and void. This is augmented with rigid insulation all around the exterior.

Energy Star Labeled Home - 2008 HGTV Green Home will be certified by the EPA's Energy Star Labeled Home Program. This means the house must exceed the minimum code requirements for energy efficiency by 20%. Energy Star also requires a third-party inspector to make sure the insulation and systems in the house are done correctly before they are covered up.

Air Infiltration - A common misperception is that a house needs to breathe. It's true that a house must be ventilated, but it should be controlled. Breathing is essentially uncontrolled air leakage. 2008 HGTV Green Home has ventilation that pre-conditions incoming air and introduces it in a controlled manner. The amount of air infiltration is also checked by a third-party inspector.

Efficient Windows - The windows in 2008 HGTV Green Home are among the most efficient. They reduce the amount of glare and heat gain through high performance glass. They are also well-built to limit the amount of air leakage.

Superior Heating and Air Conditioning Systems - The heating and air conditioning system has a number of features that improve efficiency, including individual controls, no CFC refrigerant, sealed ductwork, a high SEER rating and an energy recovery unit.

Efficient Hot Water Distribution - The house is designed to minimize the length of hot water lines. The lines are also well insulated. This reduces energy wasted waiting on hot water at the faucet.


Water Heating - Tankless water heaters save energy by only heating water when needed and providing consistently hot water.

ENERGY STAR Appliances - By purchasing Energy Star Certified Apppliances, the house uses 10-50% less energy and water than standard models.

Sealed Attic - The attic is sealed and insulated to reduce heat buildup in normally hot attic storage areas. This allows ductwork to be contained within conditioned space and greatly improves comfort.

ENERGY STAR Lighting Fixtures - By using Energy Star Certified light fixtures, the house provides excellent lighting while reducing the amount of electricity used.

Solar Power - 2008 HGTV Green Home generates some of its own electricity with solar power. The house includes a photovoltaic (PV) system that provides about 10% of its required power.

Materials and Resources

An important aspect of a sustainable house is the selection of materials that can be locally made; do not release dangerous fumes; and can be rapidly regrown or recycled.

Local materials - Most of the materials used to construct the house will be manufactured or harvested within 500 miles of the site. This reduces transportation costs and associated greenhouse gases, while encouraging a healthy local economy.

Waterproofing - Providing additional thicker flashing around windows and doors helps prevent moisture problems.

Extensive recycling - The contractor is separating and recycling construction waste to reduce the volume of material going to the landfill by nearly 25%.

Rapidly Renewable Wood Flooring - Bamboo flooring is a rapidly renewable resource that provides excellent durability and beauty at a low cost.

No Tropical Hardwoods - The project uses no tropical hardwoods that might endanger rainforests by encouraging unsuitable harvesting practices.

Synthetic Drywall - Several manufacturing processes create synthetic gypsum as a by-product. This gypsum has the exact same chemical composition but does not require mining to extract. All gypsum wallboard in the 2008 HGTV Green Home is synthetic.

Low -VOC and Microbial-Resistant Paints and Sealants - The sealants and paints used do not have volatile organic compounds that can off-gas and release chemicals into the air. These products also have special additives that help resist mold growth.

Quartz Countertops - The countertops are made from manufactured quartz which are durable, stain resistant and anti-microbial.

Water Resistant Materials in Showers - All of the material concealed behind and under showers and wet areas are made of a cementitious product that is extremely decay resistant.

Indoor Environmental Quality

It's important to control the quality of the air inside a home. This can be done by sealing off or exhausting unwanted dirt and fumes. The indoor air quality also requires reducing incoming moisture and improving ventilation.

Ventilation and Moisture Control - By controlling the amount of air, how it's filtered and its temperature and humidity, the air in house can stay fresh.

Balanced System - The design and construction team carefully sized the mechanical system and ductwork to deliver the appropriate amount of air to every room. This eliminates areas that are too cool or hot in a room. The system also balances humidity to avoid sweaty grilles that can support mold growth.

Efficient Bathroom Exhaust Fans - The exhaust fans are tied to occupancy sensors so they run only when needed to quietly remove unwanted moisture and odors from the home.

Dirt Control - Providing a place for people to take off and store dirty shoes helps keep a clean environment. 2008 HGTV Green Home also has a central vacuum system in order to control dirt inside the home.

Sealed Garage - The garage is sealed and exhausted separately from the house. This prevents carbon monoxide, water vapor and other contaminates from migrating into living areas.

High Efficiency Filters - The system uses high efficiency filters that can remove even the smallest particles from the air. It also includes an ultra-violet air purifier that removes nearly all bacteria from the house.

Awareness and Education

An often overlooked aspect of a new home is owner training. Every car comes with a detailed instruction annual. Houses should too.

Homeowner Education - Tradition will provide a detailed walk-through of the house and an owner's manual. As with any complex machine, a home requires proper maintenance and management.

Public Education - Tradition and Dawson Wissmach Architects feel strongly that one of the benefits of 2008 HGTV Green Home is the opportunity to educate the public of the benefits of a green home. Through public events, websites and other educational sessions, 2008 HGTV Green Home can be an inspiration for all of us to be better stewards of our environment.

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