The Hillcrest Approach to Green Building
With the increased energy cost and focus on the environment, at Hillcrest Builders we believe our customers have the right to expect an energy efficient home for low operating cost and high future resale value. Therefore, we have invested substantially in our Green knowledge base in order to offer the best Green value and the most extensive expertise to our customers.
2008 Sheboygan County Parade of Homes -
the "GreenBalanced Home™"?
Our most recent Green home is featured in the Sheboygan County Parade of Homes and contains a variety of green options. Certifications include Wisconsin Energy Star, GreenBuilt, and LEED. For more information, visit GreenBalancedHome.com.
The Hillcrest Green Commitment
Our philosophy is that Green is not "all or nothing". Rather, it is a matter of using the best knowledge to choose solutions that are economical as well as ecological. Energy savings is the leading factor for most of our customers, and we focus our Green efforts accordingly. Therefore, as the first builder in our area, we have included the Wisconsin Energy Star Homes certification as standard in our new homes. In addition to the Energy Star certification, Hillcrest is committed to the following Green program guided by our fact-based, value-add philosophy:
Offer as part of our Standard Features a number of Green Initiatives
Offer an extensive list of additional Green Initiatives options
Offer information that helps our customers assess the financial return and environmental benefits of each Green Initiative
Stay at the forefront of new Green Initiatives
Conduct our operations in an efficient, continuously improving manner in terms of energy consumption, construction material
The construction industry uses the term Green loosely, leaving the consumer with poorly organized and often vague information to analyze. In order to best communicate about Green Initiatives with our customers, Hillcrest has simplified the Green groupings used by the LEED's rating system into four categories. Our Green Initiatives Chart, which is updated weekly and lists and rates all the Green Initiatives we offer, is organized by these same categories.
1. Operating Efficiency - Energy Consumption and Emission
Insulation and heating & cooling have large economical and environmental impact and many of these Green Initiatives are true and proven and currently offer a quantifiable and justifiable financial return. Even the Green Initiatives in this category with a lower financial return based on today's cost of fuel may be justifiable as a hedge against future increases in energy costs.
2. Sustainability and Recycling of Construction Materials and Resources
A large amount of R&D is focused on making building products from sustainable or recycled resources and improving processes to reduce the consumption of energy in their production. The result is that the number of products made from renewable and recycled materials is increasing in availability daily. At Hillcrest, we offer a wide variety of Green building products and continue to update our selections of these products.
3. Water Use and Site Sustainability
While sustainable site design is a greater focus in arid environments (i.e. California), concerns about water and erosion are increasing in Wisconsin. Hillcrest's communities are designed for sustainability. In our neighborhoods, we focus on narrower roads, saving asphalt, increasing safety by reducing speed, and allowing more water to re-enter the water table. We also offer extensive solutions in water management and reclamation, another key element in the sustainability category. Depending on the site, we include ground water infiltration systems, and lay out our developments with walking/bicycle path connectors. For the individual home, we offer rainwater and greywater reclamation systems as well as a variety of water saving fixtures and appliances.
4. Wellness of Person and Home - The Indoor Environment
First, ventilation and humidity management has come into focus due to the increased air tightness of new construction homes. Second, by some studies, every fourth person suffers from respiratory problems (i.e. asthma). Much remains to be done in research in this field, but indoor air quality in new homes can be affected by airborne particles. At Hillcrest Builders, we offer a variety of answers, including air changers, air filters, hydronic heat, and carcinogen free carpeting, stains and paints.
This is an area in rapid evolution along with the Green development itself. Beyond Energy Star, which we include as standard, we will recommend the appropriate rating based on each customer's goals. Certifications offer an objective evaluation of the builder's work as well as add to the resale value of the home.
Wisconsin Energy Star Certification
Energy Star is primarily focused on 'Operating Efficiency - Energy Consumption and Emissions'. Energy Star is a pass/fail rating system, leaving the customer with a certificate and test results. Wisconsin Energy Star Homes is managed by Focus on Energy, a Wisconsin umbrella organization coordinating government and industry for Green practices and innovation. On average, Wisconsin Energy Star Homes are 25% less expensive to operate than homes just built to building code standards. Approximately 10,000 homes have been certified by Wisconsin Energy Star Homes so far. We include the Wisconsin Energy Star Homes certification with every new home.
Green Built Homes Certification
In Wisconsin, Green Built is a comprehensive Green rating system which incorporates Energy Star and also includes the areas not covered by Energy Star. Hillcrest Builders offers Green Built certification.
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) was developed by the US Green Building Council (USGBC), a non-profit organization with over 13,500 member companies from the industry. It is the longest standing comprehensive rating system and is used extensively for commercial buildings. For example, most municipal construction projects now require LEED certification. LEED uses a set of criteria and tests to arrive at the score, and issues certificates at the Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels. Hillcrest offers LEED certification, but because of the cost of the implementation and certification, we only recommend it for customers committed to an extensive list of Green Initiatives.