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Be Careful When The Builder Says Your Insulation Is "Green Certified"

One thing people tell me when I do one-year and two-year warranty inspections is that the builder said the house was "green certified," or whatever phrase is used.

Be careful when the builder says your insulation is "green certified."

First of all, who knows what criteria is being claimed. 

Second of all, unless you are provided some written example of such "certification," you got nothin'!!

THEY CAN SAY ANYTHING THEY WANT.  WITHOUT SOME RECOGNIZED CERT, YOU HAVE JUST ANOTHER HOUSE.

When I ask clients if there is paper work on the window quality, insulation R-values for floors, walls and unfinished attic, not just Energy Star, but really efficient appliances, and the like, they cannot.

It was never provided them.

Depending on what qualification used, the unfinished attic spaces in Virginia, in order to be solidly energy efficient, should have an R-value of between 38 and 60.  "Green" certifications range from R-48 and up.

Without getting too technical and formulaic, R-value stands for Resistance Value, and refers to thermal conductivity.  It is represented by the thickness of a material divided by the conductivity.  The higher the number, the better the R-value.

That means that the thicker the insulation, the more air it traps and therefore provides a better thermal value.

Different materials have different R-values.  Blown-in fiberglass, for example, has an R-value of 2.2/inch to 2.7/inch.  This is how the insulation stacked up in a recent two-year warranty inspection.

Since you might not be able to see, this home's attic insulation ranged from 12" to 15".  I don't know if this stuff is 2.2 or 2.7/inch in R-value, but if we take the average of 2.45/inch the range would be R-29.4 to R-36.75.  Even if this attic had a consistent 15" of insulation, and the R-value was 2.7/inch, it would barely meet the minimum energy-efficient standards for insulation.

THESE PEOPLE WERE TOLD THE INSULATION MET SOME KIND OF "GREEN" STANDARDS, AND THEREFORE THEIR HOUSE "QUALIFIED."

I don't think that's true.  This insulation was erratically blown in, inconsistently undulating all over the place.  I tried to find a high and a low spot.  And I was fair.  I think my measurements speak for themselves.

My point is that builders can say things that sound really, really great.  But you have to break it down.  And without a certification what they say holds not much weight.

My recommendation:  when your builder says things like your house will meet this or that energy criteria, find out what criteria they mean, and what they do to obtain certification toward that standard.  And make sure you will receive that certification!  Without it, you go nothin'!

 

 

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 22 commentsJay Markanich • September 09 2011 07:18AM

Comments

Green insulation is a new great product. Get it use it be green
Posted by JOSH EVANS *JoshEvansHomes 516-655-5000 (Village Properties of Mineola, LLC) about 9 years ago

Good morning Jay;  So much to learn, another great post with information for us.  Thanks again.

Posted by Kenneth Cole, NYS Licensed Real Estate Salesperson (Weichert Realtors Appleseed Group, 2043 Richmond Ave. S.I.N.Y. 10314. office phone 718-698-9797, Appleseedhomes.com -) about 9 years ago

What is green insulation Josh?  This and this is the most efficient I have run across, but you will never, ever make your money back.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

We always have to watch our backs with builders Ken.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Yes, just because something is "green" (i.e. made w/ green materials or in a green way), doesn't mean it's effective.  I see this in polyurethane (e.g. lower vOC's are more green but the poly doesn't last as long...and you need to redo the floors sooner which means over time you spend more money and use more VOC's since you've done it twice in a decade rather than once).

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) about 9 years ago

Jay, show me the papers, because I don't believe it when someone spouts that off. I sold a house that was energy certified, had papers for everything, and it was very complicated for the builder to do. There were ratings, there were tests, there was research, it was a job and a half!

But the owner loves it!!!!

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) about 9 years ago

  Green can be an excuse to cost more green.....and not much else.

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) about 9 years ago

Exactly Debbie.  You have to look at the final result.  And the costs!

Andrea - that's correct!  It isn't easy and the final outcome is one that must be proved.

S&D - I have said that for years.  I used to give "energy audits" as a part of my inspection.  This was years ago.  Now people pay me for one!  That's green, right?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Jay - great post. Many buyers love to learn their house has a green feature, but you are right: without documentation/certification, it's just verbiage.

Posted by Carol Zingone, Global Realtor in Jax Beach, FL - ABR, CRS, CIPS (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Network Realty) about 9 years ago

Carol - for sure.  It's too bad too, because everyone seems to like to be in on this bandwagon.  And the builders want you to think you are!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Jay, people will spin things to make them or their products look great, that's why I love this post! Buyer beware is something I think many have become complacent with. Trust can be a relative thing...

Posted by Peg Barcelo, The FlufftasticStager from Summerland, BC (Fluff My House! Home Staging Inc. 250.486.6369) about 9 years ago

I am a natural skeptic Peg.  Part of that is experience!  So I check things out.  Many people do not...

And thanks!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

No difference here than in anything else one buys -- the claims are only as good as the company that stands behind it - and how they have met the certification codes in the first place.

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) about 9 years ago

That's right Steven.  And claims are just that.  They need some back up!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Jay, are you telling us that "greenwashing" is not restricted to the stores and supermarkets?

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) about 9 years ago

Good afternoon, Jay. I wonder if all these so called "green" products really save us $$$'s in the long run. I really have my doubts...

Posted by Michael Thornton, Nashville Area - Photography & Videography (RadnorLake Video) about 9 years ago

Good one Chris!  I think everyone wants to get in on a fad and profit from it.

Michael - I don't think savings is the point.  I think people want to "save" the planet.  Personally I think the planet is designed to do very well, no matter what we or nature throws at it.  It is all a part of the mix.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Lotsa green seems to require lotsa long green and has little relationship to environmentally correct.  Great way to point it out!

Posted by Marge Piwowarski, Phoenix AZ Horse Property, LLC (Phoenix AZ Horse Property) about 9 years ago

Jay,

I seems that insulation contractors in general really need more QC. I see a lot of poorly done insulation installations.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

Marge - environmentally correct is just being a good steward of what we "own" temporarily!

Don - it's really, really common on new construction.  This company had a sticker that said - so many square feet of area, so many bags, therefore such and such an R-value!  That little equation is fraught with problems!  Guess what, you didn't get that R-value!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

As far as I am aware LEED certification would be a Green designation. Energy star rated homes are more energy efficient, which is technically Green. Energy Star and LEED both come with certifications. No paper no way is it "Green". Consumers should stop taking things on faith and do their research.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 9 years ago

Jim - people hear they have "good windows," some "energy star appliances," and this or that insulation and that their house is green.  Who cares what is green and what isn't!  Just give me efficient stuff.

Green has been so watered down.  I think people just feel good thinking they are on some bandwagon.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 9 years ago

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