Green-built homes are hot these days. And demand is continuing to grow. According to a 2014 report by McGraw Hill Construction, the market for green home building is expected to reach $83 to $105 billion in 2016, up from $36 billion in 2013.
Does building green homes really make a difference with homeowners? While it depends on what part of the country you’re in, according to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), in a 2011 survey, 60 percent of consumers said that they want green and energy-efficient amenities in their next home. Another study found that, between 2007 and early 2012, homes in California with a green certification label had a nine percent higher value on average than similar, non-certified homes.
4 Reasons to Build Green For Scott Rodwin, AIA, LEED AP, and president of the Boulder, Colorado-based design/build firm of Rodwin Architecture; Brandon David, Assoc. AIA and VP at Rodwin; and George Watt, principal of George Watt Architecture, a Boulder-based architectural, green building consulting, and project management firm, there are a number of reasons to build green homes, like Plan 902-1 shown at the top of this post.
1. The best reason to build green homes is that it helps to differentiate you from the competition, says Rodwin.
2. While Boulder’s building codes do require energy-efficient homes, Rodwin and David believe that green building adds value for the homeowner. “It means lower energy bills, a more thermally comfortable space, healthier indoor air quality, and the feeling that you’re helping make a more sustainable world for your kids,” Rodwin says.
3. “While green building costs more, and it takes more time and effort to design and engineer, it is where the industry is moving, so you can learn it now or learn it later,” Rodwin says.
4. Watt’s firm continually analyzes building system performance and materials to minimize the carbon footprint and emissions of its projects, but not all of his clients are as passionate about sustainability. “Unfortunately, most people still care more about granite countertops than energy efficiency,” Watt says. So educating clients about the benefits of building green is often necessary. He says: "Other clients have the philosophy of using only recycled materials. I’m more interested in having a zero footprint home (a house that produces the same amount of energy that it consumes).”
Green Features That Sell Homes The energy-efficient and green building features that help Rodwin, David, and Watt sell homes include: 1. Low Home Energy Rating System (HERS) scores. According to Rodwin, “These scores are as important to our buyers as high mpg is to car buyers.” 2. Solar. “Solar panels are highly valued,” David says. “The payback period is approx. 12 years (this varies depending on federal, state and local incentive programs), after which the panels are just money in the bank.” 3. Indoor air quality. “Healthy indoor air quality (meaning low VOCs) is important to our buyers, especially those with children,” Rodwin says. 4. High-quality windows. “With our cold Colorado nights, customers appreciate high-quality windows that create a more thermally comfortable space,” David explains. 5. Energy-efficient wall, roof, and mechanical systems. “These won’t change over time, and it’s the least expensive place to put your money vis-à-vis energy efficiency,” Watt says. 6. Natural daylight. “Creating more natural daylight inside the home means the homeowner uses less energy to power interior lighting,” Watt explains. 7. Noise reduction. “Spend time and money reducing external noise in the home,” Watt advises. 8. Intelligently thought-through design. Make sure that the home is oriented properly and responds appropriately to the climate. 9. Net-zero energy. When it comes down to practical strategies for building green houses, Rodwin and Watt both focus on building net-zero energy homes, and both firms have built LEED Platinum and net-zero-energy buildings. “Boulder customers have a very strong interest in green building so we’re able to push the envelope,” Rodwin says. “Net-zero energy homes are still on the cutting edge, but more and more of our clients are asking for them.”
As homebuyers continue to ask for more energy-efficient and sustainable homes, building green makes more sense (and dollars and cents) for builders.