Earthcraft Atlanta: Setting the Standard for the Southeast

By: Rob Muller

With successful green building programs like EarthCraft House, Metro Atlanta is slowly defining what it means to be green in the Southeast US. The city now has over 5,500 EarthCraft certified homes and condos and six EarthCraft communities. The standards have proven to be so successful at producing homes that Georgians want to live in that they've been adopted in Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

The EarthCraft standards were developed for Metro Atlanta in 1999 as way to measure and encourage energy efficient building practices in the booming Metro Atlanta region. In order to be certified by the EarthCraft program, homes have to meet standards for environmental impact, pollution prevention, energy efficiency, comfort and conservation.

The real estate market in Metro Atlanta is now full of homes with the EarthCraft seal of approval. The program offers training and technical assistance to builders interested in building green homes. After just eight years, hundreds of builders in Georgia specialize in building certified Earthcraft houses.

Though it may feel good to live in a green home, the popularity of the EarthCraft standards and the homes that get the EarthCraft Seal of approval aren't about tree-hugging. What's really making people take notice is the added value that certification guarantees. Because they're energy efficient with higher standards for building materials and indoor air quality, Earthcraft buildings are designed to be cheaper to operate and save owners money. These homes are also longer-lasting and healthier to live in.

The success of the EarthCraft House program is one of many signs of Atlanta's aspirations to go green and not a moment too soon. The population of Metro Atlanta has exploded over the last five years and the area has grown faster than any other major metropolitan area in the states. It's significant that a city famous for its sprawl should also be the birthplace of such a successful eco-program. The Earthcraft program takes its place alongside world-class community projects like Atlantic Station, Georgia Tech's recent success in the 2007 Solar Decathlon and one of the highest percentages of LEED certified buildings in the US. Programs like these are testimony to the city's effort to catch up with itself and grow sustainably.

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