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Shades of Green

Friday, 20 Apr 2007 | 2:52 PM ET
AP

I know I've blogged about green building before, but humor me if you will, because I'm not going to let Earth Day go by without reminding everyone of the enormous and growing potentials of going green at home. Now I'm no Al Gore, but one trip to the International Home Builders Show in Orlando a few months ago had me ready to rip out my century-old insulation and put a timer on every light switch.

The sheer number of green products, green advertising and "greenspeak" (no not Alan) at the annual trade show really surprised me, especially as green products and materials are often more expensive than traditional ones. I've done several stories on green homes, most of which look like urban pods or ultra-modern, ultra-cold, ultra-minimalist abodes. But this year I toured a home that was termed a "Green Retrofit." It was a traditional, roomy, comfortable and cozy house that had simply been remodeled to take advantage of the many green products on the market. It exemplified the fact that there can be shades of green within the residential movement; it's not all solar by far.

We all know about the appliances, whether they're from GE or Bosch,

compact fluorescent light
compact fluorescent light

or pretty much any major manufacturer, but the retrofit home wasn't all about the kitchen or the low-flow toilets or even the compact fluorescent lighting. It was inside and out, from insulation, to pipes, to hot water heaters to the recycled material that made up the driveway.

After I covered the show in Orlando and did a few pieces about it, I got several emails to the Realty Check regarding prices and resources for green building from the ground up and green retrofitting. All major manufacturers will have information on where their products rank on a green scale, but the best resource I've found so far is from the builders themselves.

The National Association of Home Builders Web site has a plethora of information on everything you could possibly want to know about going green at home. There are also several green websites, some from magazines, etc.:

www.globalgreen.org

www.greenbuildingpages.com

www.greenhomebuilding.com

www.ecoiq.com

www.buildinggreen.com

A friend of mine who is about to build a home from the ground up was interested in incorporating green aspects to the plan but was afraid the builder would be either uninformed or uninterested in listening to her ideas. After much cajoling and many articles spammed to her inbox, I convinced her to give it a shot. Much to her surprise, the builder was not only willing; he was well informed and excited at the idea of pushing the home into the green zone.

It's not as hard as you might think and not as expensive as you might think, and believe it or not, while you're saving the planet, you'll be saving a bit of your own green as well.

I will now jump down from my soapbox.

Questions? Comments? RealtyCheck@cnbc.com

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  • Diana Olick serves as CNBC's real estate correspondent as well as the editor of the Realty Check section on CNBC.com.

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