Solar house

VANCOUVER, Wash. -- A Vancouver builder is on track to earn one of the highest green building ratings ever for what has been dubbed a solar smart house currently under construction in Washougal, Washington.

As the walls are raised high on a brand new home in Clark County, just as high are the environmental standards the builder has set for the place.

Jon Girod is the builder with Quail Homes out of Vancouver. He said he saw the solar smart house as a challenge that he just had to take on.

"The neat piece about this house is we're going to meet the 'LEED platinum standard,' which you normally see on commercial buildings, [but this is] for a residential house." said Girod.

"LEED" stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is a green building rating system that encourages sustainable green building and environmentally smart development practices.

Girod paid about $2,500 to get the LEED project underway. His aim is to not stop until he meets the high environmental rating.

"Slowly as this stuff gets marketed, people go to the shows and they get educated on it. Buyers start requesting it," said Girod.

Structural insulated panels were installed to make the house air tight and water is conserved.

There is now a cement slab behind the home which will soon be a 35 foot turbine constantly running with the wind.

There will be a large solar panel installed on the roof and it will supply enough energy to provide hot water to a family of five, said Girod.

Girod admitted it has been a learning process.

"As time goes on, I think it will become a little more main stream. When you're working on production homes, it's hard to do this. It takes more time and its more expense. As we learn, one of my goals [has become] 'What can I [as a builder] bring the average buyer?' When I take projects on like this, it teaches us that answer," said Girod.

Having the environmental requirements, he said, does add about 20% to the cost of the $360,000 home.

Girod said it will not take long for the homeowner to reap the rewards. "I would say in a home like this, probably eight to ten years," he said.

Another bonus?

Girod said there is a $20,000 to $30,000 'one time' federal tax rebate for using this unique type of construction.

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