Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

A lot of people have questions about what "green" or "sustainable" means in relationship to building. There are a lot of misconceptions, which we hope to clear up here. If you are rebuilding, please keep in mind that the key to making your new green home optimally affordable is to plan ahead and make sustainability design decisions as early in the process as possible.


What does "sustainable" mean, anyway?

Our definition of sustainability is simple: Sustainability means being able to meet our current needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The concept can be applied to all areas of life, not just building and using resources.


What makes a house a green home?

A green home is a one that—compared with a standard home—uses less energy, water, and natural resources; creates less waste; and is healthier for its inhabitants. Some people who have built green homes take the extra steps to get certified and officially recognized as having a very efficient home. But this is not necessary -  anyone can make their home and their life greener.


Can I afford to a build "green"?

It actually is more expensive to construct a cheaply-built house, because of how much more the utilities and upkeep will run. Green building can save businesses, homeowners, and renters substantial amounts of money. It is possible to make environmentally friendly design decisions on nearly every project without increasing construction cost, regardless of the budget size. Green features can improve energy efficiency or material consumption, in turn lowering utility bills and maintenance costs for the owner.

Rebuilding Green Homes After Disaster, a brochure developed by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), a program of the U.S. Department of Energy, gives a great overview.


Does my contractor choice matter?

It really pays to take your time to find a contractor who will work with you to implement the sustainable and energy efficient options you want in your house. Not all contractors are familiar with green building techniques, and some are not inclined to learn. When interviewing prospective contractors, ask them about their specific areas of expertise related to green building, e.g., solar energy, water conservation, energy efficiency, high-performance windows, etc. Check to see if they have specialized training and experience in green building techniques. And take the usual precautions of checking references, ensuring that they have proper insurance coverage, and researching that there are haven’t been complaints filed against them by other homeowners. (A good place to start is to check with the Better Business Bureau.)  Make sure to get the agreements about how your home will be built in writing - including warranty and financial arrangements.


What are some no- or low-cost green building tips?

Here is a fact sheet that will give you some good ideas on how to get started:

40 Tips for Sustainable Home Design

If you will be repairing or updating an existing home, here are some tips:

Sustainable Retrofitting Tips


For general information about local recovery efforts, check out the Rebuild Joplin website.