Diamond Certified Companies are Rated Highest in Quality and Helpful Expertise.

  • Why this rating is the most accurate.
  • Our editors gather deep company info.
  • Performance is Guaranteed.

Diamond certified companies are top rated and guaranteed

Why Trust Diamond Certified Green Building Contractors Rated Highest in Quality?

This new kitchen was remodeled by green building and remodeling contractors in Contra Costa County. You'll feel confident choosing among the green construction companies listed above. That's because each has been rated Highest in Quality and has earned the prestigious Diamond Certified award. For more information on how best to choose and work with sustainable home contractors in Contra Costa County, read the following articles.

You are the customer. If your goal is to choose a green building contractor that will deliver high customer satisfaction and quality, you’ll feel confident in choosing a Diamond Certified green construction company. Each has been rated Highest in Quality in the most accurate ratings process anywhere. And you’re always backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee. Here’s why the Diamond Certified ratings and certification process will help you find a top-rated green builder and is unparalleled in its accuracy, rigor and usefulness:

1) Accuracy: All research is performed by live telephone interviews that verify only real customers are surveyed, so you’ll never be fooled by fake reviews.

2) Statistical Reliability: A large random sample of past customers is surveyed on an ongoing basis so the research results you see truly reflect a Diamond Certified company’s top-rated status.

3) Full Disclosure: By clicking the name of a company above you’ll see the exact rating results in charts and read verbatim survey responses as well as researched articles on each qualified company.

4) Guaranteed: Your purchase is backed up with mediation and the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee, so you can choose with confidence.

Click on the name of a Diamond Certified company above to read ratings results, researched articles and verbatim customer survey responses to help you make an informed decision.

More than 200,000 customers of local companies have been interviewed in live telephone calls, and only companies that score Highest in Quality in customer satisfaction–a 90+ on a 100 scale–as well as pass all of the credential-based ratings earn Diamond Certified. By requiring such a high score to qualify, the Diamond Certified program eliminates mediocre and poorly performing companies. Read detailed information about the ratings and certification process.

 

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DIAMOND CERTIFIED EXPERT CONTRIBUTORS IN THE Contra Costa County – Contractors – Green Building & Remodeling CATEGORY

Rolf Bell is a 35-year veteran of the building industry and principal of Green Living Builders LLC, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (510) 295-9322or by email.

Rolf Bell

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Rolf Bell: A Charitable Builder

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

BERKELEY — After getting an early start in construction, Rolf Bell left the field to pursue a more charitable vocation, which gave him a renewed perspective when he later returned to the trade. “I’m a third-generation builder,” he explains. “I started working with my father on weekends when I was 12 years old, and later I used my saw and hammer to pay for college. After graduating, I became a lead carpenter for a roofing crew, but I soon decided to switch gears and become a Lutheran minister. Through the ministry, I got involved with Habitat for Humanity, which allowed me to utilize my construction background for a charitable cause. I eventually returned to full-time construction work, but I’ve continued to stay involved with Habitat and use my skills to help those in need.”

Today, as owner of Green Living Builders LLC, Rolf says he enjoys the twofold character of his revamped career. “I like being able to do construction on different levels and for different causes. I still do charity work locally and abroad, but I also do a lot of high-end remodeling, which keeps me challenged and helps me stay on the cutting edge of technology. All in all, it’s a nice mix that keeps me fresh and excited.”

A resident of Berkeley, Rolf expresses his appreciation for its characteristic diversity. “I really enjoy the diversity of the people here—it makes for more interesting and engaging interactions than if it were a more homogenous culture. I also enjoy the variety of the architecture and building opportunities, which allows me to stay on the growth edge of my industry.”

Outside of work, Rolf engages in a variety of pastimes, both at home and abroad. “I’m really into traveling, which is one of the perks of doing charity work overseas,” he says. “Most of all, I enjoy unusual and exotic opportunities, whether swimming with whales in Tonga or watching bears catch salmon in British Columbia.” Locally, Rolf enjoys activities like skiing and hiking, as well as hanging out with his family. “My wife, Laura, and I have two grown daughters and two grandchildren, so we enjoy seeing them and doing things together.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Rolf says he’d expand his horizons of travel and experience. “As I mentioned, I love traveling and having authentic, intimate international experiences. The diversity of life on this planet is awe-inspiring to me, so I’d like to continue to see and experience as much as I can.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Kirala in Berkeley.

Q: What kinds of movies do you like?
A: Adventure movies and thought-provoking films like “Arrival.”

Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for dessert?
A: Tiramisu.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Global experiences.

Q: What’s the most death-defying feat you’ve ever attempted?
A: It’s a tie between bungee jumping in New Zealand and walking along the girders beneath the Golden Gate Bridge as a teenager.

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Cutting-Edge Glass Technologies

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BERKELEY — If you’re planning to replace windows, sliding doors or other glass components in your home, you might want to put this off for another year or two. Glass technology is on the cusp of a major revolution, so if… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Innovations in Glass Technology

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Complete Video Transcription:

BERKELEY —  Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re thinking about replacing the windows in your home, make sure you’re aware of imminent innovations in glass technology. Today,… Read more

SELECTED PHOTOS FROM THESE TOP RATED COMPANIES

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INDUSTRY INFORMATION AND RESEARCHED ARTICLES BY THE DIAMOND CERTIFIED RESOURCE

  • Schluter Systems

  • FastFlash

  • Westcoat Specialty Coating Systems

Homasote Green Building Products
Ecological Adhesives
Certified Green Building Systems
Green Building Systems Inc
Kama Energy Efficient Building Systems
Sustainable Building Systems
GreenTech Cabinetry
Certain Teed Green Building Products
USG Green Building Products
BioShield Healthy Living Paints & Finishes
Advanced Environmental Recycling Technologies
American Recycled Plastic
Green Choice Flooring
Elwood Reclaimed Timber
Eco-Friendly Flooring
James Hardie Sustainable Building Materials
EnviroGLAS Recycled Glass Construction Products
Renewal By Andersen
EnviroFoam Insulation
Green-Source Products
Greenway Recycled Pavers
EcoStar Roofing
Energy Efficient Restoration Systems
Urbanslabs Sustainable Surfaces
Renewed Materials
Organic Surfaces
Butler Building Systems
Enercept Structural Insulated Panels
Environmental Wall Systems

green home building
green building material supply
LEED building materials
green construction
green building technologies
green building consulting
building green schools
eco-friendly office building construction
sustainable living construction
green flooring materials
sustainable housing construction
energy efficient design
alternative building materials
eco-friendly building material construction
green cabinets
eco-friendly paints, coatings & sealants
green decking, fencing & railings
green building insulation
recycled building materials
reclaimed woods
green roofing installation
eco-friendly siding
sustainable surfaces
energy-efficient window & door installation
green building product resources
sustainable bathroom remodeling
green kitchen remodels

Alamo
Antioch
Bay Point
Bethel Island
Blackhawk
Brentwood
Briones
Byron
Canyon
Clayton
Clyde
Concord
Cowell
Crockett
Danville
Diablo
Discovery Bay
El Cerrito
El Sobrante
Hercules
Hilltop Mall
Kensington
Knightsen
Lafayette
Los Medanos
Maltby
Martinez
Moraga
North Richmond
Oakley
Orinda
Pacheco
Pinole
Pittsburg
Pleasant Hill
Point Richmond
Port Chicago
Port Costa
Rheem Valley
Richmond
Rodeo
San Pablo
San Ramon
Tara Hills
Vine Hill
Walnut Creek
Walnut Heights
West Pittsburg

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United States Green Building Council (USGBC) (www.usgbc.org)
National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) (www.nahb.org)
The Green Building Initiative (GBI) (www.thegbi.org)
California Building Industry Association (CBIA) (www.cbia.org)
Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) (http://www.abc.org/)
California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) (www.dca.ca.gov)
North Coast Builders Exchange (NCBE) (http://www.ncbeonline.com/)

Know What You Want
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Choosing a Green Builder in Contra Costa County

The first and most important step you’ll take on your way toward a sustainably constructed home in Contra Costa County will be to decide what green features you want and/or need. Begin by asking yourself some key questions.

Do I want a Diamond Certified company that is rated best in quality and backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee?

Do I want to build green for practical reasons such as lowering electrical bills?

Am I uncomfortable in my current home? (Drafty rooms, lack of storage, high utility bills, mold, etc.)

Are there current conditions in my home that could affect plans for remodeling green? (Asbestos issues, lead paint, old appliances, mold, roof in poor condition, etc.)

What are my plans for the future regarding my home in Contra Costa County, including the smaller cities of Alamo, Crockett, Point Richmond, Walnut Heights, Rheem Valley, and Hercules? Do I plan to move within five years? Within 10? Do I plan to expand my family?

How much can I afford to invest in a green building or remodel? How long am I willing to wait for my investment to pay off, monetarily?

Do I or any of my family members have health reasons such as asthma or allergies that building green would help?

Do I feel passionately about green issues?

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What To Ask In Person
What to Remember When Meeting in Person with Green Building Contractors in Contra Costa County

Once you’ve narrowed the selection of green builders in Contra Costa County who have met some of your hiring criteria, it is time to interview them in person. The following are some questions that will help you further identify whether a given green builder is right for your project.

What will be the timing on bidding and completing the green home construction?

Do you carry workers’ compensation and liability insurance?

How do you price green building construction?

What type of warranty do you provide and what are the terms for your green building projects?

Will construction permits be needed? Who is responsible for getting these permits?

Do the construction firms hire subcontractors or do the general contractors and their employees perform the work?

How and when do you clean up the construction site?

 

What professional organizations are you a member of?

 

Do you specialize in the type of work that I need? If so, can you provide examples of similar work in Contra Costa County, including the larger cities of Concord, Richmond, Antioch, Walnut Creek, and Pittsburg, that you have completed?

How do you perform your work—what time do you start, how will you protect my carpets, how will you handle trash and debris, etc.

 

How many projects that are similar to mine have you completed in the last year?

 

How many projects do you have going at the same time?

 

What kinds of green materials and techniques to you commonly use?

 

How will work on the site be made sustainable?

 

Will all “green details and considerations be written into the contract?

 

Do you have a list of references that I may contact?

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  • What To Ask References
    Learn About Previous Customers’ Experiences with Contra Costa County Sustainable Contractors

    It’s best to find a Diamond Certified green contractor because all certified companies have passed an in-depth ratings process that most other companies can’t pass. If you want quality from a green contractor in Alameda and the greater Bay Area, you can have confidence choosing a Diamond Certified company. Diamond Certified reports are available online for all certified companies. And you’ll never be fooled by fake reviews. That’s because all research is performed in live telephone interviews of actual customers.

    If you can’t find a Diamond Certified green contractor within reach in Contra Costa County, you’ll have to do some research on your own. If you do, it’s wise to call some references provided by your prospective green contractors. Keep in mind, though, that references provided to you by the contractor are not equal in value to the large random sample of customers surveyed during the Diamond Certified ratings process. That’s because references given to customers from companies are cherry-picked instead of randomly selected from all their customers.

    If you do call references on your own, specifically ask for a list of the company’s 10 most recent customers. This will help avoid them giving you the names of only customers they know were satisfied. The following are questions you should be sure to ask a Contra Costa County green contractor’s former clients.

    Did the contractor’s work begin and end on the agreed-upon dates? If not, why not? How did the contractor address the discrepancy?

    Did work start on time each day? Stay mostly on schedule?

    Was the work finished at the agreed-upon estimate?

    How did the contractor approach any deviations from the schedule or estimate? Did he “surprise” you at any time with extra charges or changes to the agreed-upon work? How well did you feel he explained things every step of the way, throughout the project?

    How easy was it to reach the contractor throughout the course of the project?

    What was the project the green contractor worked on for you?

    Did the work pass inspection?

    How happy were you with the final product? Did the contractor’s craftsmanship meet, fail to meet, or exceed your expectations?

    Were the contractor and crew friendly and professional?

    Would you hire the green contractor again?

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  • Review Your Options
    Final Questions Before Hiring a Good Green Contractor in Contra Costa County

    The Diamond Certified symbol has been awarded to companies that scored Highest in Quality in an accurate ratings process.

    Before deciding on the best green contractor in Contra Costa County it’s important to consider the following questions.

    What is my time frame for this green building or remodel project: When do I intend to start it and when do I need to have it accomplished?

    Which green contractors in Contra Costa County offer the better warranty for the overall cost?

    Is my green contractor of choice well-established in the community?

    Does my green contractor have good references that I have checked?

    Is my green contractor of choice charging a reasonable price for quality work on my green building or remodel project?

    Have you gotten quotes from a minimum of three green contractors?

    Is my green contractor of choice listed in the Better Business Bureau as having complaints filed against him? If so, were they valid complaints that required disciplinary action?

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  • How To Work With
    How to Work with a Green Contractor in Contra Costa County

    Once you have found the best green contractor for your building or remodel project in Contra Costa County, your work as a responsible customer has just begun. During your green building or remodel project, pay attention to the following tips in order to have success with your green contractor.

    Don’t Micromanage
    If something is truly important, it is good to make your opinions known. But remember that sometimes you have to let a green contractor and his crew do what they are hired to do. Keep an open mind and listen to your green contractor’s suggestions and ideas.

    Foresee and Plan
    It is important to try to foresee and plan for potential problems. A common problem, for example, could be an absentee subcontractor. Outline with your green contractor a contingency plan if this should happen.

    Avoid “Allowances”
    It is wise to avoid “allowances” in the estimate as these can account for huge discrepancies between projected and actual costs. If in doubt, err on the side of caution and overestimate.

    Communication
    The key to always keeping things moving smoothly, be sure to keep open lines of communication at all times.

    Maintain a Project Journal
    It might be helpful to keep a project journal: your own record of the building or remodel project as it progresses. This could be helpful in keeping things moving according to schedule and clarifying disagreements. Make sure to keep track of all changes to the plan in writing. You might want to include the contract, any change orders, specifications, cancelled checks, lien releases, record sheets, plans, invoices, warranties, bills, identifying information for materials used, record sheets, and any other written correspondence with the green contractor.

    Check the Work as it Progresses
    Be sure to check the work continually as it progresses in Contra Costa County, including the smaller cities of Port Chicago, Byron, Clyde, Diablo, Discovery Bay, El Cerrito, and El Sobrante. Don’t wait until everything is finished before you check to make sure everything is according to plan.

    Request a Written Contract
    Be sure that both you and the green contractor sign the contract once it is drawn up. This contract protects the interests of both you and the green contractor. It should include the following information:

    A clear, concise, and complete description of the green building or remodel project, including start and completion dates.

    Company’s name, physical address, mailing address and phone.

    Payment structure and schedule

    Detailed description of entire green building or remodel project

    Demo, removal and prep cost and procedures

    Material cost and type of materials used

    Project timeline

    Who is overseeing project/performing work

    Warranties should be written and the length of time as well as limitations should be covered. Warranties should cover materials and workmanship, and names and addresses of the warrantor. This may include the contractor, manufacturer, and distributor.

    How changes to the remodel or building project and/or disputes are handled

    Any oral promises made.

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  • Be a Good Customer
    How Can You Be a Good Green Contracting Customer in Contra Costa County?

    It’s the green contractor’s responsibility to construct quality sustainable building using the best possible building techniques. But you play a big part in the success of your green contractor, too. Here are a few simple steps you can take to be a good customer when hiring a Contra Costa County green contractor.

    Remember, a friendly smile goes a long way.

    Before you hire a green contractor in Contra Costa County, restate your expectations and goals, and reiterate your understanding of the agreement. Most problems with green contractors occur because of a breakdown in communication. By being clear about your expectations and theirs, you can avoid most conflicts.

    Be sure your contractor has a phone number where they can reach you at all times. The work will move along more smoothly if your contractor can reach you for any necessary updates, questions or work authorizations.

    When your contractor contacts you, return calls promptly to keep the project on schedule.

    Be clear and upfront with the contractor. Let them know what you want in as much detail as possible, the long-term outcome you’re expecting, and specific ways they can satisfy your expectations.

    Pay for the work promptly.

    Why would you want to be a good customer? Green contractors in Contra Costa County appreciate customers who are straightforward, honest and easy to work with. Your good customer behavior sets the tone from your end and creates an environment conducive to a good relationship. Things may very well go smoother and any problems may be more easily resolved.

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Check The Work
Verify the Green Contractor’s Work Against the Invoice

When the green contractor’s work is completed, most professional contractors will give you a written invoice that details the completed work. This invoice usually includes:

The green contractor’s name, physical address, and license number

A list of all services performed

The total cost of the green contractor construction project, including the amount due for labor

Any applicable guarantees or warranties provided by the green contractor and/or manufacturer

It’s wise to compare the completed work against the invoice. Make sure that the green construction project was completed to your satisfaction. If you have questions about the work that was done, this is the time to ask.

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Written Warranties
Written Warranties from Local Contra Costa County Green Contractors

Before the green contractor leaves, confirm any warranties offered by the green contractor and/or manufacturers in Contra Costa County. The written warranty document must detail the following:

The green contractor’s name and physical address in Contra Costa County.

Your responsibility in the case of a problem with the green remodel or building project and what you need to do in order to redeem the warranty.

If the green building or remodel warranty is transferrable to the new owner in the event that you sell the structure the contractor has remodeled or built.

The length of time as well as limitations should be covered. Warranties should cover materials and workmanship, and names and addresses of the warrantor. This may include the contractor, manufacturer, and distributor.

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Top 10 Requests
Top Service Requests from Green Building & Remodel Contractors

The following are some of the green building industry’s most cost-efficient, popular remodel and building requests.

Water Efficiency Toilet & Showerhead Installation
This is the installation of energy efficient toilets and showerheads. By upgrading your toilet to a low flow model and installing low flow showerheads, you can save water and energy.

Energy Efficiency Windows
The installation of energy efficient windows can lower household energy bills by 7-15 percent. Energy efficiency windows also lower energy consumption and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

Insulating Water Heater
Though water heaters are insulated, they can waste energy by losing heat if they are designed with minimal insulation. By adding more insulation, you can save money. Insulating a water heater can stop up to 97% of radiant heat loss.

Walls & Attic Insulation
Adding insulation to walls and attics provides your primary defense against heat loss. It can save you up to 25% of your heating costs.

Nontoxic Paints
Paints and finishes are among the leading causes for polluted indoor air which is a hazard to human health. Regular paints and finishes release low level toxic emissions into the air for years after their application. The application of nontoxic paint provides many benefits to your home or building. Nontoxic paint reduces toxins. It also reduces landfill, groundwater and ozone depleting contaminants. Nontoxic paints are easy to clean with soap and water and do not emit hazardous fumes during application.

Programmable Thermostats
Because of their energy saving benefits and convenience, programmable thermostats have become hugely popular. They save energy and money on utility bills by allowing you to set home temperatures based on various factors. They have a higher accuracy when compared with manual thermostats. Programmable thermostats contain no mercury and are eco-friendly.

Roof Insulation
Adding insulation to your roof makes your home energy efficient, comfortable and more resistant to outside noise.

Moldy Carpet Removal
Because mold can be a dangerous indoor air contaminant, it is important to have it removed immediately. When mold grows on damp surfaces, it releases spores into the air. When inhaled, these spores cause sneezing, congestion, runny or itchy nose and throat irritation. It may even cause more serious symptoms such as asthma attacks, pneumonia-like illnesses, allergy attacks, and even infections. The young and the elderly are especially sensitive to mold. Some molds may even be toxic.

Photovoltaic (Solar) Panels
Installing photovoltaic panels on your home or building allows you to take advantage of solar energy. Because solar energy is a completely renewable resource, you can rely on it as a constant and consistent power source. Photovoltaic panels require very little maintenance and last a good long time. Solar energy does not create pollution. Though they are expensive initially, in the long run you will save yourself a lot of money as it costs nothing to harness the power of the sun.

Solar Water Heaters
Installing solar water heaters saves on energy, water heating costs, and the environment. A solar water heater uses the sun’s free energy to create hot water. This can reduce your hot water energy consumption by 50% to 90% which saves you money year after year.

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Glossary Of Terms
Glossary of Terms for Clients of Local Green Contractors

Below are key green building terms used by ecofriendly remodeling companies.

air cleaning
This indoor-air quality-control strategy removes various airborne particulates and/or gases from the air.

Also known as: air clean systems, air cleaning equipment, air duct cleaning, home air cleaning, home air purifiers, heap air purifier, room air purifiers, room air cleaners

alternative energy
This is energy from a source other than the conventional fossil-fuel sources of oil, natural gas and coal such as wind, running water, and the sun.

Also known as: alternative energy companies, alternative energy funds, alternative energy stocks, alternative energy facts, solar energy facts, alternative energy resources, alternative energy home resources, alternative energy pros and cons, solar energy pros and cons

biological contamination
This is contamination of a building environment caused by bacteria, molds and their spores, pollen, viruses, and other biological materials. It is often linked to poorly designed and maintained HVAC systems. People exposed to biologically contaminated environments may display allergic-type responses or physical symptoms such as coughing, muscle aches and respiratory congestion.

carbon dioxide monitoring
This is a method for determining indoor air quality by using the concentration of carbon dioxide as an indicator. Although the level of CO2 is a good indicator of air quality, it is dependent on the presence of certain conditions and must be applied accordingly.

Also known as: carbon monoxide monitor, carbon monoxide detector, carbon dioxide meter, measuring carbon dioxide, carbon dioxide measurement, carbon dioxide sensor, carbon dioxide alarm, natural gas detector, methane gas dector

certified lumber
This is a general shorthand term for lumber that has been certified sustainable harvest by an independent certification authority.

Also known as: fsc certified, fsc wood, fsc certified lumber, certified lumber, certified wood, certified forests, certified forest products, timber companies, timber products, wholesale timber

compact fluorescent lights
This is small fluorescent lamps that are used as an efficient alternative to incandescent lighting.

Also known as: fluorescent lights, compact fluorescent, compact fluorescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent lights, dimmable fluorescent, compact fluorescent grow lights, energy efficient lighting, energy efficient lights, compact fluorescent lamps, fluorescent lamps

construction and demolition waste
This is waste from building materials, dredging materials, tree stumps, and rubble resulting from construction, remodeling, repair, and demolition of homes, commercial buildings and other structures and pavements.

Also known as: construction demolition, construction and demolition debris, construction and demolition waste management, c&d recycling, c&d debris, hazardous waste disposal, construction debris, construction debris landfull, solid waste, solid waste management, waste recycling, recycling waste, hazardous waste

daylighting
This uses natural light in an interior space to substitute for artificial light. Daylighting is considered a sustainable building strategy because it reduces reliance on artificial light and reduce energy use in the process. When well designed, it contributes to comfort and performance.

deconstruction
Rather than demolishing a building and placing the remains in a landfill, this is the careful disassembly of the building into its component parts, which allows many of those parts to be reused or recycled.

demand hot water system
These are hot water heaters designed to conserve energy by providing instantaneous hot water, rather than storing preheated hot water in a tank. Such devices can serve an entire home or serve an individual water use.

Also known as: hot water recirculation system, instant hot water systems, hot water heat, hot water heating, water heating systems, hot water tank prices, solar hot water systems, solar hot water system, hot water circulator, hot water circulating system

dual-flush toilet
This toilet conserves water by the use of two-different settings. One setting uses less water for liquid waste removal, and another uses more water for solid waste removal.

Also known as: dual flush toilets, efficient toilets, water efficient toilets, wall hung toilet, wall hung toilets, wall mounted toilets, dual toilets, toto toilets, dual toilet, dual flish, dual flash toilets, one piece toilets

durability
This is the factor that affects the life cycle performance of a material. The more durable item is environmentally preferable, as it means less frequent replacement. However, durability is irrelevant if the material is replaced for aesthetic reasons prior to it actually wearing out.

energy management system
This is a control system capable of monitoring environmental and system loads and adjusting HVAC operations accordingly for the purpose of conserving energy while maintaining comfort.

Also known as: energy management systems, energy management control system, building energy management system, energy management consultants, home energy management system, energy management software, free energy, energy management solutions, energy saving, energy monitoring, energy monitor, home energy management

envelope
This is the boundary that separates a building’s conditioned and unconditioned spaces. The term is typically used when referring to heat and air transfer, such as through walls, windows, and the roof. All of these are part of the building’s envelope.

geothermal energy
This is hot water or steam extracted from reservoirs beneath the Earth’s surface. It can be used for heat pumps, water heating, or electricity generation.

Also known as: advantages of geothermal energy, cost of geothermal energy, geothermal energy costs, geothermal energy facts, geothermal energy pros and cons

gray water
This is domestic wastewater composed of wash water from bathroom, kitchen, and laundry sinks, tubs, and washers.

Also known as: gray water irrigation, gray water collection, greywater, greywater system, greywater recycling, gray water system, gray water recycling, recycle water, recycling gray water, grey water systems, gray water tanks, gray water tank

green building
This is a the practice of increasing the efficiency in which buildings and their sites use and harvest water, energy, and materials. This reduces the negative impacts on human health and the environment. Green building includes consideration for the entire building life cycle such as siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance and removal.

Also known as: green building and design, green building design, green building construction, green building council, green building homes, green home building, green building materials, new green building materials, green building certification institute, green building technologies, green building systems, green building system

green design
This architectural design conforms to environmentally sound principles of building, material and energy use. A green building, for example, might make use of solar panels, skylights and recycled building materials.

Also known as: green building design, green building and design, green home design, green home designs, green homes, green design products, green products, sustainable design, green sustainable design, green design architecture, green architecture design, green building, green building materials

green electricity
This is electricity generated from renewable energy sources, such as solar power, wind power, biomass, and small-scale hydropower.

Also known as: green energy companies, alternative energy companies, renewable energy, alternative energy, solar power, solar power companies, green energy sources, alternative energy sources, green energy electricity, electricity energy

greenhouse effect
This is the warming of the Earth’s atmosphere attributed to a buildup of carbon dioxide or other gases. Eco-friendly building and green remodeling processes help limit greenhouse gasses and lower the greenhouse effect in urban areas.

greenhouse gas
This is a gas, such as carbon dioxide or methane, which contributes to potential climate change. Green building is one way to help lower greenhouse gas emissions in the Bay Area.

ground cover
This is low-growing plants that are often grown to keep soil from eroding and to discourage weeds.

Also known as: shade ground cover, ground cover shade, flowering ground cover plants, flowering ground cover, full sun ground cover, ground cover plants full sun, perennial ground cover, perennial ground covers, vinca minor ground cover, creeping thyme ground cover, thyme ground cover

ground source heat pump
This heat pump has underground coils to transfer heat from the ground to the inside of a building. By using the naturally more stable temperature of the earth as its heat source, it results in substantial energy savings.

Also known as: water source heat pump, water source heat pumps, geothermal heating cost, geothermal heat pump cost, geothermal heating and cooling, geothermal cooling, water source heat pump system, ground source heat pump installation

high efficiency
This is a general term for technologies and processes that require less energy, water, or other inputs to operate. A goal in sustainable building is to achieve high efficiency in resource use when compared to conventional practice.

Also known as: high efficiency water heater, high efficiency water heaters, high efficiency toilets, high efficiency washers, high efficiency gas furnaces, high efficiency top load washers, high efficiency oil furnaces, high efficiency heat pumps

high efficiency toilet
This type of toilet, known as an HET toilet,  provides at least 20% water savings over the federal standard of 1.6 gpf and still meets the most rigorous standards for flush performance. HETs include pressure-assist toilets that use as little as 1.0 gpf, gravity-flush toilets that consume 1.28 gpf, and dual-flush toilets that offer two different flush volumes.

Also known as: high efficiency toilets, efficient toilets, efficient toilet, water efficient toilets, dual flush toilets, low flow toilets, high flow toilets, pressure assisted toilets, wall mount toilets, toto toilets, toto high efficiency toilets

hydronic heating
This space heating system uses water circulated through a radiant floor or baseboard system or a convection or fan coil system.

Also known as: hydronic baseboard heating, electric boilers for hydronic heating, radiant heating panels, hydronic radiant heat panels, hydronic heating supplies, radiant heating supplies, radiant floor heating installation, underfloor heating, hydronic underfloor heating

national green building standard
This is based on the NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines and passed through ANSI. This standard can be applied to new homes, remodeling projects, and additions.

Also known as: nahb, nahb green, nahb green building standard, green building standard, green homes, green home builders, building green homes, green building rating systems

natural ventilation
This ventilation design uses existing air currents on a site and natural convection to move and distribute air through a structure or space. Strategies for natural ventilation include placement and operability of windows and doors, thermal chimneys, landscape berms to direct airflow on a site, and operable skylights.

Also known as: natural ventilation design, air vent, roof vents, roof air vents, exhaust fans, ventilation fans, ventilation systems, roof ventilation, stack ventilation

on-site stormwater management
This is building and landscape strategies that control and limit stormwater pollution and runoff. These strategies include vegetated roofs, compost-amended soils, pervious paving, tree planting, drainage swales, and more.

passive solar
These are strategies for using the sun’s energy to heat or cool a space, mass, or liquid. Passive solar strategies use no pumps or controls to function. A window, oriented for solar gain and coupled with massing for thermal storage (e.g., a Trombe wall) is an example of a passive solar technique.

Also known as: passive solar house, passive solar house plans, passive solar water heater, residential solar power, solar panels, passive solar panels, solar heaters, passive solar heaters, passive solar home plans, zero energy homes

porous paving
These paving surfaces are designed to allow stormwater infiltration and reduce runoff.

Also known as: permeable pavers, permeable pavement, pervious paving, porous pavement, asphalt paving, porous asphalt paving, grass pavers, concrete pavers, concrete paving, driveway paving, patio pavers, paving stones, asphalt driveways

reclaimed materials
These are materials that are no longer needed where they are so they are reused in a new location or for a new purpose. For example, wood and other materials are salvaged from a building under demolition or deconstruction and are used in the construction of a new building.

Also known as: reclaimed building materials, reclaimed wood flooring, used lumber, reclaimed lumber, recycled wood, recycled building materials, salvaged wood, architectural salvage, salvaged flooring, antique hardwood flooring, reclaimed hardwood flooring, used building supplies, used building materials, reclaimed wood beams, reclaimed beams

recycling
This process collects materials that would otherwise become solid waste and separates, process, and returns them to the economic mainstream to be reused in the form of raw materials or finished goods.

Also known as: recycling plastic, recycle plastic, recycling center, paper recycling, recycle facts, recycling glass, recycling bins, recyclable materials

renewable energy
This energy is generated from renewable resources such as sunlight, wind, and agricultural products.

Also known as: renewable energy sources, renewable energy companies, renewable energy, solar renewable energy, renewable energy resources, renewable energy projects

renewable resources
A resource that can be replenished at a rate equal to or greater than its rate of depletion; e.g., solar, wind, geothermal and biomass resources.

Also known as: renewable energy resources, list of renewable resources, renewable water sources

trombe wall
This thermal storage system is used in passive solar design. It is a high-mass wall that stores heat from solar gain during the day and slowly radiates the heat back into the living space at night.

Also known as: trombe walls, trombe wall design, trombe, passive solar energy, passive solar home, passive solar house design, solar home plans, solar for the home, solar heat, home solar heating, solar energy, trombe wall construction, home wall construction

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Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ for Local Green Building Contractors and Green Remodeling Companies

Q: Why choose a Diamond Certified green contractor?
A: Diamond Certified helps you choose a local green contractor with confidence by offering a list of top-rated local companies who have passed the country’s most in-depth rating process. Only green contractors rated Highest in Quality earn the prestigious Diamond Certified award. Most companies can’t pass the ratings. American Ratings Corporation also monitors every Diamond Certified company with ongoing research and ratings. And your purchase is backed by the Diamond Certified Performance Guarantee. So you’ll feel confident choosing a Diamond Certified green contractor.

Q: What is “green building”?
A: Green building refers to a combination of design, construction and operational practices that reduce a structure’s negative impact on its occupants and its surrounding environment. Green building practices generally decrease the structure’s toxic output and increase the efficiency with which a structure is able to draw upon the energy, water and materials at its site.

Q: What are the benefits of green building?
A: There are myriad benefits to building green. Environmental benefits include but are not limited to protecting natural spaces, and reducing water and energy use and harmful air emissions; economic benefits include but are not limited to reduced operating costs, mitigated risk (health issues, avoidance of faulty or inappropriate systems or materials), optimized performance over time, tax incentives for energy efficient practices and materials, availability of outside funding sources, and added value to a community; health benefits include but are not limited to better air quality and reduction in toxic emissions from building materials.

Q: Does it cost more to build green?
A: Up front, maybe—but not necessarily! Over time, certainly not! Even small, low key projects can make a big difference in your energy consumption, which of course, leads to savings. Furthermore, research shows that the costs of building green are actually decreasing over time as builders become experienced and sustainable practices and materials become more commonplace.

Q: What are some of the basic features of a green home?
A: Generally speaking, green homes, have increased energy efficiency, conserve water, have improved air quality, and reduce pollution and harmful waste. An array of techniques and materials can be employed that will result in these characteristics for any building—green structures need not be identical.

Q: What part do reused and recycled materials play in green building?
A: Reused and recycled materials reduce solid waste problems, cut energy consumption in manufacturing, and save natural resources. Remember, sustainability is all about minimizing impact, and choosing, for example, to use salvaged lumber from your own project site means you won’t be using fresh lumber and thus potentially contributing to deforestation. Many reused materials also tend to be durable and, increasingly, attractive.

Q: Why use locally produced materials?
A: Materials have to get to your project site somehow. The farther away their origins, the more fuel was expended to get them—so buying locally does make a difference in the overall greenness of your project!

Q: What standards exist for green buildings?
A: LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification is as close to an industry standard as exists at the moment. You can read more about LEED at www.usgbc.org.

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