By Matt Goodman

Killeen Daily Herald

When looking at current options for area home builders wanting to build more environmentally, the Central Texas Home Builders Association saw a void. Wednesday night at its banquet room, the association unveiled its "Green Star" program – a localized version of the stringent national "green" home building requirements. "A lot of hard work went into this presentation," president Terry Neiman said before the unveiling.

The goal of the program is to incorporate "green" techniques into routine municipal, commercial and residential buildings. Eventually the group hopes that enough builders will employ the program to gradually segue into the national "green" building guidelines.

Steve Rinehart, owner of Rinehart Real Estate Inspection in Harker Heights and the evening's main presenter, said the association's Green Star program is more cost-effective and gives builders "a taste" of building "green."

"It's mostly intrinsic value," he said. "It's like buying an electric car; you know you'll get value out of it in the long run, but you're contributing more to the environment."

Rinehart's presentation dealt with common misconceptions of environmental building and, more specifically, the guidelines of the association's Green Star program.

To be a level 1 certified home – the highest grading – the builder must meet 26 requirements over six sections: site development, materials, energy, health, water, education and additional unlisted methods.

"This (program) saves water, this saves energy, this saves the environment," Rinehart said.

For instance, to achieve a credit in site development, builders can build new homes on sites with access to existing infrastructure.

An example of a materials credit is using recycled or reclaimed materials for the foundation, as well as building with "locally available indigenous materials."

For the energy section, builders can institute energy efficient lighting in at least five areas.

For health, builders get credit for installing a controlled mechanical ventilation system or by sealing ducts during construction before first use.

An option for water would be installing low-flow toilets and, finally, to achieve an operations credit is as easy as having an employee oversee the builder's "green" program.

"These methods are nothing new," Rinehart said. "We're just trying to get the information out."

So far, two builders have signed on to the program and others can register immediately. Information booklets should be printed out by next week and building checklists are available now.

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