From cost savings to healthier living, the benefits of owning an environmentally friendly home have spurred consumer demand for green features that continues to rise year after year – and many homebuilders are taking notice.
Nearly one-third of builders report more than 60 percent of their projects are green, according to Dodge Data & Analytics’ 2015 SmartMarket Report on Green and Healthier Homes.
The research also found that of those builders, 51 percent expect the majority of their projects will include a nod toward energy-saving and environmentally friendly features by 2020.
Building with a eye on sustainability and high-performance is a practical response to a wide range of issues affecting all consumers, including rising energy costs, indoor air quality concerns and the need for smarter water usage.
Here are a few of the measures homebuilders are employing this year as they work toward creating a greener future:
Green certifications. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) developed its Leadership in Energy Efficiency Design, or LEED certification system, for homes about a decade ago. Since then, the rating system has become a benchmark for measuring a home’s compliance with modern green standards.
While LEED isn’t the only certification system within the United States, it is the most widespread. As green features continue to become more accessible, experts believe homebuilders will increasingly design homes to meet LEED certification standards.
Sustainable materials: In 2017, more homebuilders will increase their utilization of green building materials, including engineered lumber, low-fiber flooring, recycled concrete and green roofing products.
In addition to the materials that make up the home, builders are also finding more ways to create homes that promote a sustainable way of life, like offering discrete recycling centers and solar-ready components.
Energy efficiency: As builders strive for LEED certifications, many will look to increase their homes’ energy efficiency by including Energy Star® compliant HVAC systems, low-E window glass, fluorescent and LED lights, and programmable thermostats.
Water conservation: Much of water waste can be attributed to human behavior, but newer products are helping to mitigate the waste, including low-flow showerheads and toilets, and Energy Star appliances.
Additionally, homebuildeers are choosing to incorporate drought-tolerant plants and materials into their landscape designs, as well as provide climate-controlled, water-sensing irrigation valves.
-Andy Warren is president of Arizona homebuilder Maracay Homes, a member of the TRI Pointe Group. maracayhomes.com.