According to a recent article over at Newsweek, green homes are very hot right now, despite what is going on in the real estate market. While typical homes drop in value, energy efficient, environmentally friendly homes are not only retaining their value, they are now in demand and are selling at premium prices. The National Association of Home Builders, released some survey results showing that the average home buyer was willing to spend an additional $8,964 on a green home, if it would in fact save them money on their utility cost.
Unfortunately, the average person knows very little about green building, and that is probably because it is such a broad topic which covers many different facets. When thinking of the term “green”, most people instantly picture huge solar panel arrays and wind turbines. However, true green building techniques are executed well before these types of expensive additions. From site selection, building placement, energy efficiency and indoor air quality, real green building starts before the ground is even broken. It is only after these green building techniques are put in place that is it cost effective to start adding alternative energy sources. My rule of thumb is every dollar spent in energy efficiency will save four dollars on alternative energy.
Architects(me:-) and builders are working very hard to educate consumers about which products and techniques will give them the biggest bang for their buck. In the meantime, organizations like the U.S. Green Building Council and Energy Star are offering certification programs to help rate the greenness of these homes. These certificates will allow home owners to receive additional tax breaks from the Federal government, and in some cases, they will be eligible to receive state tax breaks. Green building advocates are hoping that these certificate programs will become widely accepted, like Consumer Reports, and create higher resale values for the home owners.
This shift toward green building just might turn around this broken industry and many smaller builders will attest that their numbers are supper hot. Unfortunately, most of the larger builders are still only scraping the surface, doing just enough to get by. However, as this market shifts, I believe that larger builders will be following suit. The simple fact is that people are becoming educated and they know that this “green stuff” means more money stays in their pockets, regardless of their political or environmental views.