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It's Not Easy Building Green

Green building technology on the rise, but still not widely practiced


Though some local builders have jumped on the "green" bandwagon, building technologies that are environmentally friendly and do not deplete non-renewable resources are still relegated to a minority of building projects -- usually on the high end.

At the corner of Highway 83 and Hodgen Rd., on the northernmost edge of the Black Forest, Cherry Creek Crossing is the first entirely Built Green community in the Pikes Peak region. That means building materials used were environmentally friendly, energy-saving appliances were installed and technology was used that lowers consumption of fossil fuel-based energy and water.

But Cherry Creek Crossing is an exclusive community of large show homes on 2.5 acre lots. The segment of the housing market that is more affordable to the majority of the population has not yet seen such a comprehensive green building program.

The Green Builder Program, supported by the Colorado Association of Home Builders, offers resources for builders across the state through their Web site, a comprehensive directory of eco-friendly builders and suppliers.

Eco-Products of Boulder, for instance, is one of the businesses catalogued on the Build Green website (www.builtgreen.org). Eco-Products sells, among other things, recycled paint that is often one-third less in price since 40 percent of the content is provided free to the manufacturer. Siding, insulation, windows and doors made of eco-friendly materials are available, as well as composting toilets and hot-water-on-demand systems.

The Green Builder Program welcomes and features builders of straw bale homes, energy efficient and relatively inexpensive structures that have caught on in parts of Douglas County, but remain relatively rare in the Springs.

The Built Green Web site lists three Springs companies in their list of participants: Jasmine Homes, Inc., Osprey Construction Mgmt, Inc., and Saddletree Homes.

In Arizona, the Colorado Plateau Building Technology Initiative at Northern Arizona University hopes to address the gap between the availability of green building technologies and application at all socio-economic levels, citing an awareness of expensive high-end technologies presented as "green building" as "technology for the affluent."

Drs. Tom Rogers and Stephen Mead, members of the U.S. Green Building Council have turned their efforts toward closing that gap. Among their stated goals is "to act as a catalyst for technology transfer from high-end and expensive to affordable and durable."

Both Mead and Rogers are involved in creating green building programs for rural and isolated communities, setting an example of how affordable quality building technologies can actually help raise up an impoverished community. Rogers' specialty is creating a partnership between low impact construction and small business development. Mead's focus is on affordable and sustainable building materials and methods.

Locally, green building advocates have joined with other like-minded individuals to form the Sustainable Living Coalition, a network of people committed to life-styles and business practices that "do not endanger the future quality of life by depleting nonrenewable resources or by leaving a polluted landscape." The group meets monthly at the Beidleman Environmental Center, 740 W. Caramillo, on the last Thursday of every month. All interested consumers and business people are invited.

With one Green Built community in place and advocates banding together to begin a community-wide dialogue, perhaps green building will grow to reach the lives and consciousness of more members of the Colorado Springs community, including those who need affordable, sustainable housing most.

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