Is “Green” Design Still Important in Residential Construction?
The concept of Eco-friendly, “Green”, sustainable design and construction has actually been around since the 1800's when solar power plants were first built in America.
Although those were commercial in nature, they paved the way for the green movement that has taken the world by storm over the last decade. For commercial and industrial construction, these practices can create buildings that are energy efficient, and have lower overall operation costs. What CEO doesn't want that! And just two years ago, there were more LEED-certified green buildings constructed, than standard construction buildings.
But is green construction still important in the residential market? As a wood flooring manufacturer, it seems the biggest emphasis on green building, and using green building products, came about 5-6 years ago. Since that time requests for green products, like antique wood floors, all but stopped. Does that mean that green construction isn't as important to today's homeowners?
The US Green Building Council, and its LEED rating system has made green construction more mainstream, for consumers, than it used to be. And Jerry Yudelson of Sustainable Industries called 2013 the rebound year for green building. There are some compelling statistics that help us understand why. Homes today account for:
•39% of total energy use
•68% of total electricity consumption
•30% of landfill waste
•38% of carbon dioxide emissions
•12% of total water consumption
According to McGraw Hill, in 2011, green construction was up 17%, and it is projected that green buildings will reach 38% by 2016. This, combined with the fact that the cost to build green is getting smaller each year – from 11% more in 2008 to only 7% in 2011 – means that it is may be more trendy than you think.
And implementing green building into your home, doesn't only happen at the new construction level. In fact one of the biggest trends in the last two years has been energy upgrades within the home, either as the sole purpose of, or part of a home remodel.
Once implemented new technologies allow for greater transparancy and monitoring of energy usage within the home, so tech-savy consumers, at least, can make the most of and control energy consumption within their home. After all, household appliances like heating and cooling systems account for 60-90% of residential electricity consumption If you want to read more about designing the energy efficient home, here's 4 ideas from builder, Todd Ventiuoli of VErmont. From wood floors, that have a long-life cycle and low cost of ownership, to selecting energy efficient appliances, there are many small, and big steps you can take to be a green-conscious homeowner.
And creating a more environmentally friendly home doesn't just benefit your wallet. Installing solar panels, using low voc products like prefinished wood floors, controlling water consumption also benefits the environment, reduces landfill consumption, and creates a healthier, less toxic environment for you and your loved ones by reducing exposure to toxins and pollutants. Check out this project featured on the National Association of Home Builders website, from Chaleff & Rogeres Architects for a great example of this! An architectural firm, with over 200 energy efficient homes in their repartee, has a lot of wisdom when it comes to explaining the benefits of green design.
If you are remodeling, building, or just looking to upgrade your home to be more eco-friendly get some ideas from the Top 10 Green Buildings Projects of 2013, or you can check out the SmartHome 2013 from HGTV!