By Marcia Goodman
When it comes to real estate value, having a green home is not only good for the environment, it can be good for your wallet. But we’re not talking about painting your house — we’re talking about helping the planet!
More and more buyers are looking for sustainable building features that improve energy efficiency and decrease environmental impact. So if you’re looking at options to include when building or purchasing a home, or if you’re looking for ways to improve the value of your home whether you’re keeping it or selling it, you may want to consider going green.
What is a green home?
In general, a green home is built with environmentally friendly and sustainable materials, and it has particular focus on the efficient use of water and energy.
That means it uses less energy, water and natural resources compared to a standard home. Because it’s more efficient, it also creates less waste. And all of these factors mean a green home can be healthier with better indoor air quality.
“A green home is built with a much larger home in mind — planet Earth,” says Ryan Fitzgerald, owner of Raleigh Realty.
In the 1990s, the U.S. Green Building Council developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating systems, which certifies sustainability in building design, construction and operation.
A recent study from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) shows that green homes are continuing to gain market share. At least a third of single family and multi-family builders said green building represents more than 60 percent of their business. And that number is expected to keep growing.
“These findings show that green building has become an established part of the residential construction landscape,” said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald, a home builder and developer from Kerrville, Texas. “It is no longer a niche business; our members recognize the value of building green and are incorporating these elements into their standard business practices.”
Four Fundamental Factors
There can be many elements involved in green building. But generally they involve these key considerations:
- Location: This means building a home so it takes advantage of the natural surroundings and climate, such as facing south to gain solar heat. It also means locating a home so its near public transportation options.
- Building materials: This means using ecologically friendly materials such as those that are locally sourced, biodegradable, non-toxic, repurposed or renewable.
- Energy consumption: This means strategically insulating and ventilating the home to reduce the need for artificial heating and cooling. It also means using energy-efficient appliances and renewable energy resources, such as solar panels to heat water and generate electricity.
- Water usage: This means taking steps to conserve water, such as efficient plumbing fixtures or a rainwater recapture system. It also means adapting the landscaping to need less water by including native plants and reducing the lawn size.
How Can You Go Green?
Marla Esser Cloos, an advocate for greener homes, has written a book on the issue, Living Green Effortlessly: Simple Choices for a Better Home, offering tips to help people make their homes greener.
“Living green has to be a blend of the stuff you buy and the things you do,” Cloos says. “If each of us built five simple practices or changes in buying habits into our daily routines, we would all soon have our own ‘everyday green homes’ — and we would change the world.”
Some steps, such as installing solar panels, are big changes to a home’s infrastructure. But there are plenty of small steps you can take to make your home greener. Here are some tips:
- Buy appliances with the Energy Star designation.
- Choose energy efficient LED light bulbs.
- Use cold water for your laundry.
- Unplug your appliances, TVs, computers and games when you’re not using them. Or put them on a power strip you can switch off.
- Plant trees in strategic positions to provide shade that will reduce your energy needs.
- Consider upgrading your hot water heater or glass windows to more energy efficient versions.
- Set the thermostat temperature two degrees higher in the summer and two degrees lower in the winter to reduce your energy usage.
Ultimately, taking steps, big or small, to make your house greener will reward you by lowering your energy bills and making your home a better place to live – whether you’re planning to stay or sell!
Marcia Goodman, Realtor with Samson Properties, Gainesville, VA is a highly credentialed, experienced staging realtor specializing in residential real estate. To learn more about how she can help you prepare for your next move, or to receive her free staging eBook, contact Marcia by clicking here, or call 703-819-4776.