A 2013 study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows home buyers are thinking green when it comes to choosing a new residence, spurring much-needed demand in a chilled housing marketplace.
In its annual Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, NAR found a still-rising premium on eco-friendly homes and communities in the U.S. housing market. Buyers are looking for homes designed or retrofitted with planet-friendly features like high-efficiency windows, water metering, and geothermal heating and cooling.
According to the Profile, the top priorities were heating and cooling costs, energy-saving appliances, and energy-efficient lighting. In the Northeast, nearly 40 percent of buyers said heating and cooling costs were their single greatest concern. The report found that new home buyers also attached importance to solar power, green landscaping techniques, and eco-conscious community perks, like easy community access for less commuting.
A Greener Market
From the world’s most expensive homes, outfitted with satellite-controlled irrigation and solar arrays, to modest LEED-certified granny flats, more and more home buyers are seeking housing with an environmental conscience. Requiring less energy and raw resources, green homes are helping slow the daily juggernaut of garbage bound for overflowing U.S. landfills. In a nod to climate change woes, forward thinking housing also keeps carbon usage to a minimum.
The use of green building materials has continued to climb through the recession. From new builds to remodels, opportunities abound for buyers and sellers to join the movement for sustainable housing. Today’s $116 billion global market is expected to swell above $250 billion by 2020, market analysts at Navigant Research projected this year.
These real estate trends benefit not only the environment, but buyers and sellers, too. Developers are racing to earn eco-credentials like LEED certification to prove their mettle in this greener market. Consumers are responding positively, driving vital demand in a recession and helping to bring down the price of earth-friendly materials.
Serving Human Health
Acknowledging new LEED certification rules, green-minded developers are increasingly introducing features in support of human health. Embracing this theme was last month’s 12th annual Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, the world’s largest building sustainability event.
Held in Philadelphia, this year’s gathering emphasized non-toxic construction furnishings that promote rather than contaminate indoor air quality, such as low-biocide paints or low-VOC flooring. Echoing this sentiment, the U.S. Green Building Council released its latest round of environmentally friendly construction standards, dubbed ‘LEED v4,’ at the Greenbuild conference.
The LEED v4 updates have drawn attention for a revamped focus on materials safety and transparency. The tough new benchmarks directly take on the human health dimension of environmental health because, noted one LEED VP, there’s no point in creating an airtight, energy-efficient structure only to fill it with hazardous toxic materials.