By Bob Gorman
The housing market is starting to bounce back with full force, but it’s certainly never going to be the same. Consumers have learned their lesson, and the market will show it.
For too many years, home sizes and their accompanying energy demands have just kept growing and growing without regard to the effect on the environment. After the housing crash, consumers had an awakening, and now sustainable homes will be the future of the real estate market.
Not too long ago, LEED and Energy Star rated homes were just an occasional oddity. However, sustainable homes are quickly becoming mainstream. Long gone are energy wasting McMansions and unaffordable home loans. From here on out, homeowners will want low utility bills, water savings, and reasonable sized houses.
Homeowners, businesses, and consumers have started to accept that our nation is facing an energy crisis that will never go away. There simply isn’t enough oil to last future generations, coal is becoming more difficult to mine, and solar isn’t a stand-alone option without significant increases in battery technology.
Sustainable homes incorporate many small changes, which are generally unnoticeable to the homeowner, for big energy savings. According to Boutique Homes, simply building homes to face south, creating HVAC systems with zone control, using LED light bulbs, open design for flow-through ventilation and using better insulation add almost no cost to construction while creating massive energy savings for homeowners.
Wise water use
Today, sustainable homes need wise water management to be appealing to consumers. After all, aquifers are drying up, droughts continue to get worse, and our water needs only going to rise.
Thankfully, over the years, technology has been able to catch up with our dire need to save water. Long gone are the days of underperforming low flow toilets and disappointing water saving faucets.
However, sustainable homes try to take their water saving ability beyond smart bathroom fixtures. When planned carefully, rainwater can be harvested, shower water can be used to flush toilets, and water from washing machines can irrigate gardens.
Additionally, homeowners are more open to xeriscapes than ever before. Gravel yards are a thing of the past. Landscape design options can seamlessly blend attractive water saving greenery into any neighborhood.
The tiny house movement is here to stay, and while ultra small homes under are not likely to become mass produced anytime soon, the philosophy is spreading.
More and more homeowners want a reasonably sized home along with the environmentally friendly benefits and financial freedom that come with one. As a result, average home sizes are dropping, sometimes drastically. In fact, several developments of tiny apartments and compact homes are popping up across the nation.
Use of alternative energy
For a home to be considered sustainable today, use of alternative energy is a must. In most climates, either solar or wind is an option. Smart home design coupled with the use of alternative energy can even create an ultra-green home that can essentially function off the grid.
For a long time now, homeowners have been offered rebates by utility companies or government agencies for upgrading their homes to be more energy efficient. However, retrofitting homes isn’t ideal as it’s an unaffordable expense for many. Recognizing that more sustainable homes need to be built, but that green building needs to be financially affordable, multiple financial incentives are available for LEED or Energy Star certified homes.
The future of the real estate market is just as clear as our need for a greener future. Sustainable homes will be demanded by consumers. Besides the positive effect on the environment, homeowners also enjoy lower utility bills and the satisfying feeling of preserving nature for future generations.
Image credit: Dominic Alves, courtesy flickr