Comfort Zone: Creating a Middle Ground for Green Building and Great Profits

By Alison Rice

With mold a top concern for buyers and builders alike, green builders may want to consider adding an upgrade to their option list: the "healthy house."

With a tighter building envelope and better ventilation, green homes already appeal to buyers concerned about allergens, as Hedgewood Properties found. "We've had some remarkable testimony from families with asthma and allergies," says Hedgewood president Pam Sessions, who highlights the stories in her advertisements.

It may sound like a small market, but it's not. More than 36 million Americans have allergies, asthma, or other respiratory problems, according to the American Lung Association, which started its "Health House" program in 1993 to educate homeowners and builders about indoor air quality.

Such an option represents a natural extension of green product for builders, says Pattie Glenn, president and CEO of GreenSmart, a consulting firm in Newberry, Fla. Depending on the climate, a builder could replace carpet with tile or hardwood floors, use low-VOC paints, or improve the air filter and humidity control to provide peace of mind to buyers more than willing to pay to protect their families' health. "I've never heard anyone say they didn't want better indoor air quality," Glenn says.

?Alison Rice is based in Arlington, Va.

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BIG BUILDER Magazine, March 2002