We see it in sports all the time, if there is a weak link on the team, they cannot win the championship. It takes everyone operating at their top level and working together to achieve success and win it all. The same holds true in home construction. You have to build a complete and balanced team to actually get a green home.
There are many aspects that go into achieving your dream green home. It has to fit your budget, provide healthy indoor air, operate efficiently, be economical to build, and conserve water (just to name a few). The appropriate team depends on the complexity of the design. As I have written many times, just purchasing a plan from a magazine does not take into account the site, the climate, or locally available materials and expertise. A builder is not an expert at selecting materials that are the most efficient and affordable option to achieve your goal. Many times they will send you to a supply house to make your selections – this puts all the burden on you to determine the most economical and appropriate option. Unless you frequently build homes yourself, you should not be expected to know the best solutions.
If you don’t have a builder that understands efficient home construction, you will be paying someone to learn how to build efficiently. While it seems simple, just changing to advanced framing to be able to upgrade your insulation package, for instance, requires some understanding of all the impacts this change will have on other aspects of the home. If you don’t have an insulator that understand efficient insulation installation, you will undoubtedly pay more than you should for an insulation that does not perform as well as possible. If you hire an architect that does not understand specifications and building science, you will likely have a moisture problem in your conditioned attic. There are many considerations that need to be made. You should have a team that knows building science, design, construction, material selection, and installation.
Don’t fall for the old trap of purchasing a plan that does not address the site, materials, your functional needs, or the climate. Don’t hire a builder that does not know and understand building science. Don’t allow installers to learn by their mistakes on your project. Don’t let a designer with little experience in efficient homes learn how to design your green home. Find a balanced team of experts and pay a little more up front if that is needed to get the best team; it will save you everyday with a job done right.