‘Green’ homeowners insurance now available in Georgia

30 09 2008


Georgia homeowners who use environmentally friendly solar panels and recycled building materials on their houses can now get insurance specially designed for “green” homes, officials announced Tuesday.

The state insurance commissioner’s office has approved the first-ever green homeowners insurance policies in Georgia, commissioner John Oxendine said. The program – for customers of the California-based Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. – guarantees that environmentally friendly homes will be rebuilt in the same way if they’re damaged or destroyed.

“We hope this will encourage and promote people to be green in their homes,” Oxendine said at a news conference at one of Atlanta’s houses with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Georgia joins 26 other states where green insurance is available. Fireman’s officials say about two dozen Georgia homeowners have signed on so far.

Even homeowners who don’t have environmentally friendly houses can buy the green add-on from Fireman’s Fund to complement their existing insurance policy with the company, Oxendine said. That means if a house is destroyed in a fire or damaged by a tornado, for instance, the insurance company will rebuild it with a green design. It also will pay the hefty cost of hauling construction waste to recycling companies rather than junkyards, he said.

Laura Turner Seydel, daughter of media mogul Ted Turner, is one of the state’s new green insurance customers with her LEED-certified home in Atlanta’s posh Buckhead district. The home, called the EcoManor, has solar panels on the roof, natural lighting in almost every room, naturally dyed furniture and rugs, cabinets made from pressed hay, and a plumbing system that reuses rainwater and wastewater.

“I feel like I look better, think better and operate better,” Seydel said during a tour of her home Tuesday. “We have built a much healthier home for our family,” noting the home doesn’t have the chemicals and toxins often found in dyes, paints and construction materials.

Green building is more expensive because it requires specially designed appliances, hard-to-find plumbing fixtures and construction materials from within a 500-mile radius. But experts say green homeowners save about 30 percent on utility bills each month, which can quickly recoup the added cost of construction.

Seydel’s home is one of three LEED-certified homes in Georgia, according to the U.S. Green Building Council, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. The certification means those homes meet a lengthy checklist of environmentally friendly requirements.

However, scores of Georgia homes are built with green components and energy-efficient designs, even though they don’t meet the stringent LEED certification, according to Southface, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that promotes green construction.




Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: