Green Home Trends Featured at Design & Construction Week

We here at just returned from Design & Construction Week in Las Vegas, and the various trade shows both had some interesting offerings when it comes to green buildings, green construction and green renovation. In addition to learning about several new eco-friendly surfacing products that we will be sharing with you over the next couple of months, I personally attended two presentations.

The first of these was Green Home Trends presented by Stephen Jones of Dodge Data & Analytics and held at the joint Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) and International Builders Show (IBS) at the Las Vegas Convention Center January 19. The second major presentation was Affordable Sustainability: Smart Choices for the New Millennium presented by Ed Begley, Jr. and held at The International Surface Event (TISE) at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center January 21.

Green Home Trends

The Green Home Trends presentation was based on an ongoing report, The Drive Toward Healthier Buildings, that can be downloaded (among others) free of charge at the Dodge Research and Analytics website.

DSC_2029According to the presentation, most people only think of green homes in terms of energy efficiency, but another aspect that is rarely discussed but is just as important is the healthiness of homes.

The trend to build green homes has been steadily growing for several years despite the downturn in new-home starts that began in 2006 and continued until just recently. Jones and Dodge Data believe that green homes will account for as much as 26 percent to 33 percent of the market by the end of 2016.

Although most green construction is done by new-home builders, a significant number of home renovators are also building green. The biggest limiting factor is the added cost. Most people are only willing to pay 5 percent to 10 percent more for a green home than they would pay for a traditional home.

Until recently, the upswing in green homes and green renovations has only been driven by one or two factors. Today, all of the following factors are driving the upward trend:

  • Customer demand
  • Energy-cost increases
  • Availability of green building materials
  • Affordability
  • Appraisers recognizing the greater value of green homes

Because all of the above factors are about equal in their influence of green building and green remodeling, the industry is now seen as mature. In fact, many prospective homebuyers today believe that new homes will have green features built in without having to ask for them. However, green contractors are beginning to fall behind the demand for green buildings, and this is now a limiting factor rivaling that of cost.DSC_2030

Many builders now say they are actively building net-zero-energy homes as energy efficiency is vitally important to homebuyers and homeowners as costs rise. For clarification, net-zero homes are those that produce an equal amount or more energy than what is used. However, occupant health is quickly approaching energy efficiency as a reason for building green. Eighty-three percent of homebuilders now say they believe buyers will pay more for healthier buildings, and 50 percent say that buyers will pay up to 10 percent more for such homes.

One surprising fact about green homes is who is buying them. It is generally believed that younger buyers are driving the market, but in fact, it is older Americans who are buying the majority of green homes and green renovations.

Affordable Sustainability

January 21 at TISE, Ed Begley, Jr. led a presentation sponsored by Bostik, one of the leading manufacturers of adhesives and sealants. Ed Begley is one of the most prolific actors of our time, but he is also an outspoken advocate of environmentalism and green building. The subject of the presentation was affordable sustainability. Many people do not consider green homebuilding and green renovations because they believe it is simply too expensive, but Begley is dead set on dispelling this myth.DSC_2100

Begley began the presentation by telling the audience a little about the history of his own green renovations, most of which he accomplished himself. He made his first environmental choices when he was still a struggling actor. When he bought his first home, he had virtually no money for renovations, but he could do simply things like buy energy-efficient light bulbs and appliances. From there, he went on to buying a few starter solar panels and a windmill to supplement his electricity. He then replaced his fence with fencing made of recycled milk jugs.

Eventually, Begley’s acting career took off, and he was able to spend a little more money on environmental upgrades, such as flooring, countertops and an HVAC system. The point is that money is not an object to environmental living. Not everyone is going to able to build or renovate a home so that it can be certified as LEED Platinum, but everyone can do something to start and a little more as time goes on.

It is up to suppliers, manufacturers, dealers, contractors and fabricators to educate end consumers about what is available. If you spend just a little time researching the options, you can find green building materials that are affordable. Begley, however, iterates that it is not enough for green products to be green. They must work and work well. He claims that he learned of eco-friendly adhesives from a friend, which he used to install green flooring.

Green products that do what they are supposed to do are out there, and they are not always as expensive as you would believe.

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