Earthcraft is a sustainable building certification program. Founded in 1999 as a joint collaboration between the Greater Atlanta Homebuilders Association and Southface, Earthcraft’s mission is to provide the guidance necessary to produce homes (and other building types) that are comfortable, durable, low maintenance, energy efficient, and have excellent indoor air quality. Earthcraft is distinguished from other notable national green building certification programs by its particular focus on the providing solutions for the Southeast. Their sustainable strategies are tailored to the mixed-humid climate of the region. This is a far more intelligent and effective approach than providing a “one size fits all” set of guidelines. Achieving energy efficiency in the Southeast necessarily demands different strategies than those that would be needed to achievie energy efficiency elsewhere.
Earthcraft’s central concern is the environment. The building industry accounts for 47.6% of all the energy consumed in the United States. Energy sources used by homes contribute to global warming and other serious environmental problems such as rapid depletion of natural resources. Earthcraft is trying to step in and implement change to mitigate these and other problems. Based on diagnostic third party testing, Earthcraft certified houses are, on average, 30% more efficient. This equates to a reduction of over 1100 pounds of greenhouse gas emission each year. This figure is based on the 40,000 plus homes that are currently certified.
So how does it work? How do you get a home Earthcraft certified? The first step is to identify an Earthcraft certified builder for the project. On Earthcraft.org, they make it easy to locate these professionals in your area. The project team will then be assigned a technical advisor – an Earthcraft team member who provides information, support, and direction from the initial design phase through the completion of construction. With the guidance of the advisor, the builder, and the architect involved, the home is designed and constructed in accordance with Earthcraft’s above-code specifications. This ensures the final product is comfortable, energy efficient, durable, and cost effective. Quality assurance is guaranteed by adhering to an Earthcraft points-based worksheet, multiple site visits during construction, and ultimately third party diagnostic testing to verify that the project complies with the program standards. The full manual for Earthcraft houses (detailing project standards and certification requirements) is available on their website.
Ultimately, the upfront cost of an Earthcraft certified home is .5 – 3% greater than the norm. However, savings on maintenance, repairs, and energy allows the upfront cost to be recovered relatively quickly. In the long run, building an Earthcraft certified house is good for the wallet, the environment, and the comfort of the occupants.