How to Have a Green Home this 2015

As 2015 is fast approaching you might be considering having a green home. Having such an environment friendly abode brings benefits like: increased resale value, lower utility costs and healthier living. “Green Multifamily & Single Family Homes: Growth in a Recovering Market,” a recent report by McGraw-Hill states that 73 percent of single-family builders and 68 percent of multifamily builders report that consumers are willing to pay more for green homes.

Let us first have a tour of time as to the brief history of green homes before we proceed to 2015.

The first major movement of green building began in the 1970s, after the price of oil began to skyrocket. In response, researchers began to look into more energy efficient processes, following in the wake of the earlier, isolated environmental projects. Many different organizations sprung up in the 1990s in order to promote green buildings and some were also dedicated to improving the knowledge of consumers so that they could have more green homes. The International Code Council and the National Association of Home Builders began their paperwork in 2006 in order to create a “voluntary green home building standard”.

In 2005 the Energy Policy Act was legalized, which allowed tax reductions for homeowners that could show their utilization of energy efficient changes to their homes, such as solar panels and other solar-powered devices.

In March 2007, New Zealand bank Westpac became the “first New Zealand bank to offer a ‘green’ home loan”, and other banks are slowly following suit.

Net Zero Energy Home 

You can make 2015 an energy efficient home for you and your family. 2014 showed us the strong growth on solar and other renewable energy installations. This only shows the feasibility and affordability of such an endeavor.

Passive Home Construction

The aim and objective of passive home construction is to utilize materials and design to minimize the need for auxiliary heating and cooling. Such houses are all the rage now in Europe, with their super-insulated and super airtight, passive homes that utilize high thermal mass elements, strategically placed windows and shading to regulate building temperature with minimal reliance on traditional heating and cooling equipment. Architects and home builders are showing interest in this home concept, thus expect the passive home construction explosion by 2015.

Water Smart Housing

Water conservation not only helps the environment but also lessens our utility bills. Many green homes include water conservation designs like integrating water saving fixtures and low flow toilets. The trend for 2015 will be in harder-core water-smart innovations, including composting toilets and gray water recycling systems. Landscaping, too, is a prime opportunity for water conservation as well as methods for reducing storm water runoff and surface water pollution.

Design for Health

Being green is not only about the environment but also about being healthy as well. 2015 will present home green features that will support both our mental and physical well-being. You can incorporate the following concepts in your 2015 green home:

  • Make use of natural materials that are locally sourced for any small scale ‘fix-its’ to large scale renovations. They are not only less expensive but already trendy.
  • Make use of non-toxic materials. Try using zero-VOC paints and finishes, natural fiber insulation, and low-VOC carpeting.
  • Green roofs and walls. Green roofs convey energy efficiency benefits and helps regulate surface water runoff, they also protect a home’s interior from electromagnetic radiation. Green walls on the other hand, improve a home’s aesthetics and can help moderate temperature around your humble castle.
  • Urban Farming. Plant; create your own organic garden, which will provide fresh, local produce.

“We believe that the healthy home is the next frontier in home renovation,” says Neil Kelly (award-winning design-build remodeling firm) President Tom Kelly. “Remodelers have a critical role to play in helping people make changes—large and small—to improve their home environments.”

Low Cost Green Homes

By 2015, having a green home will not be that expensive. As the demand for such features are continually growing, Builders, designers and architects are already incorporating them on moderately priced homes. There is also the growth of modular, pre-designed green and energy efficient homes, as well as green energy retrofits of existing homes.

Reduce, Reuse, Re—birth?

Talk to any sustainability expert and at some point during the conversation you’ll hear the phrase “life cycle.” It’s not necessarily an extreme concept; all products have their own life cycle. Some are long, like brick. Some are short, like fast food. And some never die. Here’s an example. Viridian is a Portland, Oregon company that takes beautiful old wood, saves it from the landfill, and re purposes it as a raw material that some designers are known to gobble up. “When shipping and packing container wood make their way from Asia they look pretty rough, but with a little sanding beautiful colors and grain patterns appear,” says Neil Kelly Design Consultant Karen Richmond. “It’s versatile, bursts with personality, and its wood we wouldn’t normally have available to work with.”

Remodel vs. Move

Maybe the recession taught us something. Or maybe people would rather scratch their fingernails on a chalkboard than move. Either way, an emerging housing trend is that more and more folks are opting to remodel their existing home to be environment friendly than move to or buy a new one. In other words, they’d rather “love it” than “list it”. Remodeling your old home save son transport costs for moving, packing material and sending things to landfill as situations change. When you do a green renovation YOU are in control of what is used, and that makes a huge difference to your carbon footprint.

Be Certified

There are various types of certifications globally that declare a home as a Green home. The factors that it considers in its certification system include “the site location, use of energy and water, incorporation of healthier building and insulation materials, recycling, use of renewable energy, and protection of natural resources”.

Here are some of the different green building certification / rating systems operating in Canada: BOMA BESt, BREEAM, BuiltGreen, EnerGuide, ENERGY STAR for New Homes, Envirohome, Equilibrium, Green Globes, LEED, Living Building Challenge, Novoclimat, Passive Houses and R-2000. They all set the standard for ‘Green’ so get to know their codes and try and use them in your home.

As rapidly as green features are gaining in popularity, we cannot help imagine and dream that there will come a time when every home is a green home. It probably won’t happen as early as next year, but sometime sooner than we might think.

Like what we’re doing? Want to share your story or tell others? Do you have a green business in Calgary and want to get in front of a large local audience? Let’s build a green community together!