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The Greenest House Of All

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There is a home in Virginia that's greener than all the rest. It's a model of energy efficiency and is setting an example.

Patti Shields opens the door to her Arlington home. Shields is a consultant for people who want to make their homes green--which can mean anything from being energy efficient to reducing storm water runoff.

We walk across floors made of local renewable red oak and sit at counter-tops made of recycled beer bottles. Light comes through the energy efficient windows and even through the walls.

"It's a light panel really, it's Plexiglas but filled with a gel inside, and has the same insulating factor as a regular wall with fiberglass inside," says Shields.

There's a green roof that collects rainwater, a solar panel that provides 15 percent of the house's electricity, and in the basement is the big energy saver--a geothermal heating and air conditioning system.

"What we have is a loop of water liquid going down, two 320 foot wells and back into the system. It acts as a heat source in the winter and a heat sink in the summer. It reduces our heating and cooling bill by 50 percent," says Shields.

Shields shows me her gas bills for this 4,000 square foot home: $10 for January. Electricity bills are about a hundred dollars a month. This house won the U.S. Green Building Council's highest honor--a Platinum certification.

The green came at a cost--the solar and geothermal elements added $30,000 to the price of construction. But Shields says the other aspects--windows, insulation, recycled materials, were only one or two percent more than their less environmentally friendly alternatives. She hopes it will set an example.

Sabri Ben-Achour reports...

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