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Green Real Estate: 5 Ways to “Green” Your Home

September 21, 2008 · Print This Article

Most people are concerned about living in a healthy environment, and eco-friendly housing is becoming a popular topic these days.  Home Builders and Real Estate Agents are starting to talk about “green real estate”.  But what qualifies a house to be advertised as “green real estate”?  At least one national builder uses 5 criteria.  They are:

  1. energy efficiency
  2. indoor air quality
  3. resource efficiency
  4. water conservation
  5. site management

Let’s take a look at what each one of these characteristics means.

Energy efficiency refers to the appliances in the home, as well as items like wall insulation, energy efficient heating and cooling systems, and insulated door and roofs.  Low-E windows block radiant heat from coming into the house.  They can keep a house several degrees cooler than regular windows, especially when they’re installed on the south and west sides. These are all items that can give homeowners real saving in the cost of their energy bills over the life of owning their home.

Indoor air quality is affected by the furnace and air conditioning system, as well as the materials used in carpeting, laminate flooring and compressed wood materials.  In the recent past, these items were typically made with materials that produced toxic gases like formaldehyde.  Even when there was no obvious odor, the off gassing from these materials could cause respiratory problems for people with allergies and chemical sensitivities.  Now low VOC (or low off gassing) carpeting and compressed wood items are commonly available, but you have to check their labels.

Resource efficiency refers to using solar, wind or geothermal resources.  Solar water heaters and solar swimming pool heaters are becoming much more available, even in tract home subdivisions. Consumers want to help clean up the environment and save on utility bills.  They’re letting the new home builders know what they want, and the builders are beginning to listen.

Water conservation can involve items like low-flow toilets and no-drip plumbing fixtures.  Shower heads which minimize water use also help the conservation effort.  Gray water (or drain water from sinks) can be recycled and used in exterior sprinkler systems.

Site management includes xeriscaping.  This is the practice of landscaping with plants that are native to the region.  They are specifically selected to grow and thrive with natural rainfall, and without additional watering.  Site management can also include strategically orienting the house on the building site.  This can maximize sun exposure in the winter to help heat the interior, and minimize sun exposure in the summer to keep the house cooler.  Trees and plants can be strategically placed to with similar effects, to help heat and cool the home according to the season.

These criteria are not national, world-wide or even industry-wide building standards.  But with the rising cost of energy, and the likelihood that energy costs will continue to increase, consumers are having a real impact on the building industry.  Builders are finally seeing that energy efficient eco-friendly homes sell faster than other homes.  So it looks like green real estate is here to stay.


One Response to “Green Real Estate: 5 Ways to “Green” Your Home”

  1. SteamboatEcoBroker on September 22nd, 2008 11:52 am

    Not only do green houses sell faster, but their value will hold better in an unstable market. Green has become more than a lifestyle choice it has become a basic human value.