The Greening of Nantucket -Spring 2008

by: Josh Balling

photography by: Nicole Harnishfeger

Out on Esther’s Island at the tip of Smith’s Point, Alan Worden is building a three-bedroom, three-bathroom retreat for his family and friends powered by wind and solar energy.

On Nobadeer Farm Road, the Small Friends early education center’s new school building will use passive heating and cooling. About a half-mile away, across the street from Nantucket Memorial Airport, Habitat for Humanity is planning to build its next home with long-life roof shingles, high-efficiency windows and a host of other energy-saving and environmentally-friendly materials.

All over the island, Nantucketers are “going green,” hoping to cut down on their energy costs and be kind to the environment at the same time.

But what exactly is “green building,” and why is it so important, particularly on an island 30 miles out to sea?

Simply put, a green home is built with environmentally-sensitive materials and energy-efficient heating and cooling systems. It uses less energy, water and natural resources. The end result is less waste, healthier occupants and a cleaner environment.

Up front, a green building project will probably cost more than a conventional construction job, about 5-10 percent more on Nantucket, some builders say. But in the long run, the added costs will pay for themselves in energy savings alone. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, green homes save money by consuming 40 percent less energy and 50 percent less water than conventional homes. Over the years, that adds up to big savings.

To ensure they get what they’re paying for, property owners who build green can pursue LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, a point-based rating system that allows consumers to readily identify homes that have been third-party inspected, performance-tested and certified to perform better than standard homes and place less of a burden on the environment.

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