One of the highlights of my real estate career has been my involvement with the green home movement in Central Pennsylvania. Through those involvements I had the great fortune to connect with the Lancaster County Career & Technology Center's building trades program, which has been pursuing a green home agenda for about four years.
The mission of the school program is to develop students in the building trades with specific knowledge of advanced building technologies – everything from plumbing to mechanicals to framing. The program is overseen by Michael Dodson, himself a veteran contractor and craftsman.
Teachers in the trades are all reputable pros as well, so the students have a wealth of experience to draw from. Since they pivoted to green technology, they have completed two homes in a small community entitled "Apprentice Green" that adjoins their Mount Joy school property. Now, a third home is rising on the street. Dodson expects the home will be ready in time for the 2013 Lancaster/Lebanon Parade of Homes in June.
I love hanging around the project. The leaders are working with the National Association of Home Builders as part of the green certification process, and there's a lot of detail work that goes into crafting a serious low-energy-usage home site.
An equal focus has been making the homes attractive to Central PA buyers – no geodesic domes here. The current home will have solar hot water, a rainwater catchment system that powers the "grey water" usage and many other smaller bits, like recycled/local materials. The frame of the ranch-style home itself is ICF (insulated concrete forms), which are incredibly energy-efficient. These guys are working hard and it shows; the last home they built tested out at an energy rating well below the best local homes being built and won them a top rating from the NAHB Green Building division.
If you're looking for inspiration on how to build green within the bounds of realism, you should check these homes out. The community website is www.apprenticegreenhomes.com.
Jeff Geoghan is vice president of marketing and communications for Coldwell Banker Select Professionals and Select Services, based in Lancaster City, with 10 offices in eight Central Pennsylvania counties. Jeff lives in East Petersburg, where he also serves as mayor. Jeff has been actively involved in local government and business and has been used as a source by local, regional and national publications.