Green building’s surprising energy savings

New-home design that can also help environment, improve health
Published on Jan 26, 2007

"Use common sense to make sense." It sounds like Ben Franklin, but the speaker in this case is David Johnston, a green-building consultant in Boulder, Colo. His Ben Franklin-sounding aphorism, he said in a recent interview, has proved to be a useful, shorthand way of explaining sustainable green-building principles and practices. Although these have been embraced by more and more home builders, there is still much confusion among the general public as to what exactly makes a house green. One way to keep things straight, Johnston said, is simply to remember to "use common sense to make sense." For example, Johnston is regularly asked if a green house is one that is petroleum-product-free. His common sense answer: "If you eliminate everything that contains petroleum, you can't enjoy the accoutrements of a 21st century lifestyle." All the heating and cooling equipment and standard appliances contain plastic, he pointed out, adding that "even something as basic as a toilet has plastic...