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Everything Is Green Or Greenwashing

February 17th, 2010 · 2 Comments · Green Products, Green Service Providers

Everything is green or so it seems by reading advertisements, new start up businesses and products that are coming out on to the market.

I am even getting some really interesting requests to be added to the Business Directory on my site.  Quite honestly I find it scary, sickening, exciting and fantastic all at the same time.

Venturing out to various networking groups I meet some really interesting people doing fascinating things around town – and then I meet some that are just dumping more in to the Greenwashing that is becoming ever so common.  This was also discussed in a ‘Green Lifestyle’ class that I taught at Lone Star College at Cy Fair.  There were some absolutely great questions that arose out of that and so I thought I would address them here as well.  I wanted to put out some guidelines that you should consider when wanting to make some energy efficient, healthy or otherwise green changes within the home.

Certification of some kind

Over the past year I have seen a tremendous increase in companies around Houston that advertise doing Energy Audits.  The costs range from $99 up to over $1000 – They range from doing a visual check to blower door and thermal scans of the property.  First and foremost the thing to consider is that there is a TRUE science between energy efficiency and indoor air quality.  One change can negatively affect the other.

If you are going to have an Energy Audit done at your property request one that is Certified to do so.  Check out Natresnet to find one near you.  A ‘visual’ exam that you pay through the nose for may disappoint you in the end.  Make sure you get a professional.

Visual exams are GREAT as long as they are done by the right professional that has been properly trained.

Claims of Saving you Money

True Green industry professionals can save you money with changes that you make – But the really good ones will tell you if you are wasting your time or need to make other changes first.  Ask for documentation on savings for your particular home.  Ask if they have a guarantee and make sure that if they are selling you a product that claims to be cheaper than another ask for documentation from the manufacturer stating that the PERFORMANCE is equal.

Often times even though the products are identical in their purpose, it may be apples to oranges in performance.  A perfect example here would be new HVAC equipment or windows.

Certification of Products

This is the interesting one lately.  All kinds of ‘self’ or ‘company’ certifications seem to be popping up.  Some will give you a hot water heater blanket, a couple dimmer switches and a tube of caulk and call your home green.

This is so not the case my friends.  Do your research to make sure you are getting what you really think you are.  Here is a good wiki explaining some of the hidden trade offs.


If someone is wanting to sell you a product or service, ask what kind of testing is involved.  HVAC equipment is another good example of this.  You want to make sure that the product will actually work for your home and properly sized.

If someone wants to sell you renewable energy such as solar panels, find out how to prepare your home to save you money in the long run.  This is documentation.  

Otherwise Green Contract Work around the home

If you are building or remodeling, get the background of who you want to do the work.  What has been their experience?  Do they have a clearly defined scope of work with the above documentation?  Are they willing to tell you that what you want is not necessarily what you need?

Ask for references and find out what they know about the labels or products you are considering and most importantly ask WHAT MAKES IT GREEN.

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Stan

    When dealing with “auditors” ask for a big list of past customers with phone numbers, and call at least 3 at your choosing to check their experiences. The variations of “audits” is mind boggling. Expect to pay at least a few hundred dollars for a quality audit. Any good audit will include air infiltration testing with a blower door. Get computer energy modeling with modeled energy saving and payback computations so you can decide which improvements are right for you. Be wary of having an audit performed by a company that also sells products or services to improve the home. Like any business there are good and bad. Caveat Emptor.

  • Lesley LEED AP

    These are some good tips. I especially favor the one about asking for past customers and paperwork illustrating the savings. These are both very important. I’m not too impressed with the self-certifications on the Internet. People will buy into anything! Just as you said, energy audits are rather scientific. You shouldn’t trust your home’s energy (and possibly your savings) with an Internet certification. There are respectable companies that can train YOU to become an energy auditor, but I don’t believe you should rely on what the Internet says to do – that is scary!

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