The trend toward greener, more sustainable building underlies many design choices of today’s buyers. There is a strong connection between houses, energy use and sustainability. Here are seven green house features that will be in demand in 2010.
Today’s home buyers would like to reduce their carbon footprint and save on utility bills. They want their home to be energy efficient. Low E Glass, R 38 insulation, high efficiency AC systems, passive solar orientation, solar panels, energy rated appliances, tankless water heaters, and LED lighting are some of the basics that buyers expect to find, or are willing to upgrade to.
Ten years ago there was no generalized concern about adhesives, pressboard products, high VOC paint, or off-gassing from carpet. For today’s health conscious buyers these features are top of mind. Their interest is getting deeper and more technical. Buyers are concerned about how construction materials were made, and the energy cost of transporting them. Today’s buyers prefer locally made or recycled products that are eco-friendly to produce, and safe to have in their homes. Insulation made from old blue jeans is a perfect fit. It can be produced in a sustainable way, avoids waste, and is poses no health hazard.
Energy produced on site is gaining ground. Neighborhood associations must now consider whether to allow solar panels and wind turbines on roofs. Homes that operate at “net-zero energy” are already possible. New alternative energy sources will become more cost effective. A popular recent trend has been the solar tube, and alternative to the skylight, to gather solar energy and reflect the light down a tube into the room.
These have been a must since the 1980’s. However, today air pollution and the net heat loss from fireplaces matter more. Many have been converted to gas log systems. An alternative is the “direct vent” fireplace, which functions as a heating appliance. In warmer climates buyers may opt out of fireplaces altogether. On the other hand, outdoor fireplaces and fire pits are trending in.
The green construction trend, plus the current economic slowdown, has led naturally to a reduction in excess space in homes. Smaller homes, clean lines, and less clutter resonate with today’s buyers. Formal living rooms or media rooms that are unconnected to other core areas tend to not be used. They may be converted to studies or left off altogether.
Hard Surface Floors
Hard surface floors are a part of the green trend. Carpets hold dirt, dust mites and other allergens. That “new carpet” smell comes from a mix of chemicals used to make the fiber, glues, pesticides, and fire retardants. Popular hard surfaces today are concrete, stone, cork, natural linoleum, bamboo, and wood. Bamboo, which grows a foot per day, is attractive and sustainable.
There is more interest in walkability. People want to be able to stroll to parks, shopping, and schools. They are motivated to reduce their dependence on cars, save on gasoline, and improve personal and environmental heath. Home offices are in. Garages are being left off in some urban areas in favor of carports or open parking.