“Going Green” has become a rallying cry for both commercial and residential redevelopment over the past few years, with problems like global climate change and the United States’ reliance on foreign oil looming large over builders, developers and residents alike. Green developing not only benefits the economy, community and environment, but it is an attractive investment for current homeowners looking to upgrade their homes for future resale value. Green building minimizes the carbon footprint of a new home’s construction while providing significant energy and cost conservation measures. “Green Enhancements” yield tremendous ROI due not only to their energy conservation and attractive resale value, but also large eligible tax deductions.
“Sustainability” is a buzz word in the building world today, in both commercial and residential development. Recent studies have indicated that by the year 2020 in the U.S., 81% of home builders will construct at least 16% of new homes entirely green. Additionally, 51% of home builders will construct or remodel a minimum of 60% of home projects using a majority of sustainable features. The many benefits of building an energy-efficient home range from tax deductions to a healthier living environment, and draw on many techniques. Homeowners who embrace sustainability save thousands on energy bills and improve overall quality of life.
For homeowners involved in a remodel, the initial concern is what green enhancements will yield the greatest ROI and what green building principles will increase the home’s value. The following are eco-friendly improvements that will modernize the home, make it more attractive and more valuable:
- Green Building Materials: sustainable building materials will yield the greatest green building impact. Environmentally they can improve the quality of air and water systems, reduce waste and conserve natural resources, while reducing operating costs. Green building also improves indoor air quality, enhancing the health of residents. Examples of green building material modifications include metal roofing, reclaimed lumber and recycled plastic and glass. Metal roofing is made mostly of recycled materials; its inherent cooling properties make the home more energy efficient, needing less heat or A/C.
- Install Solar Panels: Solar power continues to be the most recognized trend in green material usage, with tremendous advances in both residential and commercial sectors. It is a clean, renewable source of energy; its use significantly reduces energy consumption and allows for government grants and tax breaks.
- Tankless Water Heaters: becoming more popular with residences due to their efficiency and floor plan flexibility, tankless water heaters use less energy because they only heat water when needed, saving 25-35% in produced energy. These tanks are more compact, take up less space and are mounted to a wall, allowing for more storage. Additionally, they have a life span 2x that of a traditional heater.
- Smart Windows: these apply to windows that are able to adjust their setting at the flip of the switch, changing from clear to opaque, to regulate sunlight and UV glare. These windows eliminate the need for coverings and thus cleaning them. Adjusting windows to block unwanted direct sunlight and harmful UV rays into the home minimizes unwanted overheating from sunlight exposure in addition to damage caused to furniture and upholstery.
- Proper Insulation: A properly insulated home, including ceiling, walls and floors, is more effective in maintaining a steady temperature year round, keeping the house cool in the summer and warm in winter. Air leaks around windows, doors and duct work cause significant heat loss and energy consumption.
- Eco-Friendly Lighting: Both LED and CFL lighting use less energy and last much longer than traditional bulbs; their usage ends up saving money in the long run despite higher up front costs.
- Appliances and Fixtures: Appliances with an “Energy Star” label means it has been designated as energy efficient by the EPA. Water will be conserved and water bills reduced by installing low flow faucets, toilets and shower heads, in addition to installing an “Energy Star” labeled dishwasher and washing machine.
Building green custom homes does not impede but rather enhances the overall quality of the home’s construction and the residents’ quality of life, making it easy to be a good citizen. The best custom home builders will offer recommendations on how to achieve this goal with a new construction or remodel.