Green building is a welcome trend for single family and multifamily homes today
Want a newly built home? Chances are, you’re thinking about location and where to secure land for the home, and you’re thinking about the design.
But have you thought about going green?
It’s definitely an idea worth exploring. Green construction is increasingly popular for not only single-family homes, but also builders of multifamily units as well.
Research published in the Green Multifamily and Single-Family Homes 2017 SmartMarket Brief by Dodge Data & Analytics and the National Association of Home Builders demonstrate not only the benefits of green building, but also the fact that it helps save money.
That’s why a growing number of developers are incorporating green concepts into the design and construction of new homes. The SmartMarket Brief study showed that green building now makes up a large share of the portfolio of single family and multifamily homes builders – up to 60 percent of their activity. This is no longer a niche business and has become quite mainstream among builders today.
So what defines a green home? And how can someone who wants a new home built get assurances that it will be constructed in a green manner?
Characteristics of green homes
The SmartMarket brief research indicates that market factors as much as anything else are pushing builders toward going green. That includes increased customer demand for environmentally sensitive homes, the ready availability of green products, and the increasing affordability, courtesy of the incentives provided by the state or federal government for going green.
In addition, it’s become clear that property appraisers increasingly recognize the higher value in those green homes.
One of the top goals for a green home is the ability to increase your energy efficiency. That can include using renewable technologies like solar photovoltaic panels in the overall design of the home.
The U.S. Department of Energy has even created a Home Energy Score to grade the energy efficiency of a home based on its structure and heating, cooling, and hot water systems. Improving the energy efficiency of your home will help you save money in the long run.
The department recommends a whole-house systems approach, and even working with an energy auditor on designing it.
And a second goal is to create a healthy indoor living environment.
So how do you set the standards for a green home? There are several ideas you can request. On way to keep your home cooler is to ask that your home be built to minimize sun exposure during the afternoon and evening hours.
It also helps to build a smaller rather than larger home, since the smaller the home is, the less environmental impact it will have. That, plus larger homes cost more to cool down or to heat in the winter.
Request that your builder use sustainable building materials to reduce the impact of the construction on the environment.
Use eco-friendly products, which can include recycled plastics and glass and reclaimed lumber, or natural products.
When you start buying appliances for your home, think about buying energy efficient appliances. That can include machines with the Energy Star label on them.
Finally, consider using water conserving fixtures like low flow faucets, toilets, and shower heads. They also have the benefit of cutting down on your water bills.
In fact, water conservation is a major aspect of building a green home.
How can green building save water?
Take the state of Florida, for example. The U.S. Geological Survey has noted that the average Floridian uses 133 gallons of water each day. However, less than half of that is used in their homes. In a state known for tropical weather year-round, most of that water is being used outdoors for landscape irrigation.
On the other hand, Florida is also one of the fastest-growing states in the nation. The population growth means more and more pressure is being put on the need for drinking water. That means we need more water conservation initiatives and the expansion of reclaimed water to extend groundwater supplies.
In many areas, utilities will need to develop alternative sources of water to bolster traditional drinking water sources.
Green building is considered a way to assist those efforts. Organizations like the Florida Green Building Coalition push for green building certification standards to promote Green Certified projects.
Water conservation strategies can be employed both inside the home and in landscaping. That can include:
- Greywater reuse
- Low-flow plumbing fixtures
- Proper installation of irrigation systems
- Rainwater harvesting
- And use of reclaimed water
There is even a program, Florida Water StarSM, that promotes voluntary water conservation through a certification program for new residential and commercial construction and existing home renovations. The program encourages water efficiency in a host of areas, including appliances, plumbing fixtures, irrigation systems and landscapes.
It’s been estimated that by following the Florida Water StarSM standards, the average homeowner can save up to 20 percent of water use each year.
That’s a key reason why builders today are being encouraged to incorporate green building programs into their construction process, offering the entire community the benefit of healthier indoor environments, lower construction costs, and considerably less impact on our natural resources.
Author: Michael Freeman
Michael Freeman is the content writer for AV Homes Florida Division, a nationally respected builder with a long heritage of innovative designs and unsurpassed craftsmanship. Michael has a passion in real estate, content marketing and overall just love cats.