How New Homes In The Market Are Going Green
By Kara Masterson
Eco-friendly is all the rage and modern homes are no exception. New home construction is capitalizing on homebuyers' attraction to energy efficiency in numerous ways, and it's paying off. Consumers are willing to invest, it turns out, when homes give back; and they don't even cost more out of pocket.
Going Green Inspires Growth
As the housing market continues to pick up stride following the crash, stagnation is common in average markets. Housing prices tend to be too steep for first-time buyers, who often find themselves stuck renting for years. Green homes haven't been subject to this same failing: the market has seen consistent growth, as buyers realize that they can choose homes that offer a huge return on investment while gaining in value.
During the housing downturn, green construction propped up the ailing housing market. Thanks to this early research and development, today's new homes can be built to energy efficiency certifications as cheaply as to minimum building code. In the single family home market, increased consumer demand has led to the rise of building firms who operate primarily in the green sector. These firms held a 19 percent share in 2014, a number that is expected to double by 2018, while more than half the industry reports doing at least 15 percent of their projects green.
What Does It Mean, Being Green?
Designing and building a house meant to be green has immense advantages over retrofitting an old home, opening the door for a huge selection of energy efficient technology. This starts from the very beginning with choosing the home's location and orientation and selecting sustainable building materials and sources. Heavy-duty insulation will help keep a house at a regulated temperature, reducing energy needs and, subsequently, costs to the homeowner. Coupled with high efficiency HVAC systems, the savings can be enormous. Most homes are also equipped with high-performance windows and doors, another effort to keep air sealed in.
The focus doesn't end with heating and cooling: eco-friendly choices in plumbing options are rapidly gaining popularity. Low-flow toilets, faucets, and shower heads are small touches that add up to big bucks, presenting an easy way to up home value. On the larger scale, tankless or high-efficiency water heaters are in great demand, thanks to the big savings they provide. For an added boost, some homes add in a heat recovery system, which recycles drain water heat to reduce energy consumption.
In today's market, however, it's not enough to just save energy: more and more, buyers want their homes to make it, too. With solar constantly getting cheaper and more efficient and the high appeal of tax credits for installing panels, homes that give back to the grid are increasingly popular. Though it's easy enough to equip an already-built home, designing a house with solar panels in mind is infinitely preferable. Taking panels into consideration from the beginning allows for increased reinforcement to hold heavier weights, enabling the inclusion of more panels. Roof structure and home orientation can also be brought into play, and an early solar consultation will maximize the volume of sun the panels can absorb. Demand for solar has been growing as customers of companies like Legend Solar in sunny Utah report electricity bills as low as zero dollars, even earning money from producing more energy than they use.
It should come as no surprise that green technology is doing so well in the still-recovering housing market. With the monumental investment that is purchasing a home still very overwhelming for many new buyers, the appeal of having a home that contributes to money saving is huge. As such, it's no surprise the market is expected to continue to surge; in the future, your dream home will more than likely be green.
Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from West Jordan, Utah. She graduated from the University of Utah and enjoys writing and spending time with her dog, Max.
All guest posts have been reviewed and approved by the Sustainable Community Media Editorial Team to ensure quality, relevance/usefulness and objectivity.