"Resource-efficient construction" or "Green Building"
is about the efficient use of resources. The goals of resource-efficient
construction aim at decreased long-term and lifecycle costs associated
with building construction, but builders must maintain reasonable up-front
costs. How does a builder realize the benefits and manage costs?
While most green building activities require more up-front planning,
many green features do not add material or labor costs. A well-designed
home with less square footage and air-sealed building envelope may actually
reduce costs through reductions in materials use, waste, water- and energy-use
as well as raising the quality of comfort in the finished space.
"The average American house, like the average
American, is just over-weight. It needs some trimming down."
Samuel Mockbee, MacArthur "genius"
award architect. Newsweek, October 16, 2000. http://www.notsobighouse.com/
Some "green" features do have higher up-front material costs
but lower labor costs, others have higher labor but much lower material
costs, and some just cost more. Balancing these costs is easier when looking
at the whole house project. A sealed, well ventilated building envelope
is important, but also allows for a reduction in the size of the heating
and cooling equipment.
and Construction Trends
David Ritchey Johnston, author of Building Green in a Black and White
World, concludes that it is worth it to consumers to buy green and
that means builders can profit. He shows through market research that
"a strong segment of the population is ready to buy environmentally
sound products. And, for those who are well informed about the benefits
of green building, the environmental package included with their home
is second only to location in their purchasing decision." Source:
Recent Gallup polls (2000 - 2001) indicate over half of the population
considers themselves to be active participants or sympathetic to the 'environmental
movement'. Source: The Gallup Organization Many
individuals have not known how to contribute towards environmental protection,
but they are finding a place to start is with their own home. And, they
are willing to pay for it.
A landmark survey conducted in 2000 by a group of building industry manufacturers
and associations confirmed the willingness of consumers to pay more for
green building features in their homes, and consumers desire for these
features. Eighty-nine percent of consumers surveyed were willing to pay
between $2500 to $10,000 for green features if they improved quality,
durability and the health of the house. A follow-up survey in 2001, showed
that this trend is increasing, consumers are willing to pay even more
this year. "On average, theyll pay $2,327 extra, [for energy
efficiency] a 36% increase over what they were willing to pay last year."
Both surveys also showed that builders were familiar with many green building
features, but underestimated the demand and willingness of consumers to
pay for these features. The 2001 survey showed that the gap between consumer
demand and builder estimation of that demand was growing. Source:
But, many architects and builders are getting involved in the movement.
Environmental Construction and Design magazine documented that
94 percent of architects, builders, developers, and others surveyed were
already incorporating some green aspects in some of their design and construction
projects (III. Trends Part IV). "Builders and architects alike believe
that green building will corner increasing amounts of the market share
for new home construction." Source: Conclusion http://www.housingzone.com/topics/nahb/green/nhb00ca002.asp
The trends show that there is interest and there is activity towards
resource-efficient construction. The roles of the players (consumer, builder,
architect) are still being formed and the traditional method of buying
and selling homes is starting
to change. These changes are taking place as more and more consumers
are challenging the status quo and more and more builders are educating
consumers about what they can provide.
A growing number of marketing studies indicate that builders will
profit from efforts to design sustainable homes.
- Consumers are looking for comfortable spaces that reflect their
lifestyle and character. They want durability, efficiency, protection
of the environment and a safe, healthy place to live.
- Builders can transfer costs of excess square footage, number
of bathrooms, and oversized heating, ventilation and air conditioning
systems to quality construction and innovative design.
- Numerous organizations are providing technical and financial
assistance to assist builders and homeowners to design in resource-efficiency.
Consumers will win with 'green' homes because they will gain long-term
dollar savings when their home conserves water, materials, energy,
and protects their environment and health. Energy efficiency is
often the easiest green feature with which to calculate direct paybacks
to the homeowner. But, other resource efficient techniques result
in intangible paybacks to homeowners and the community including:
- health and the costs associated with it,
- maintenance costs from increased durability, and
- stress on local services (water supply and treatment, landfills),
- natural resource conservation (quality wetlands, rivers and openspace
and increased support for recycled material markets).
Green building practices are a win-win for everyone.
Assistance for Affordabilty
Many public, non-profit and private organizations recognize the
need to promote green building practices in the United States. An
infrastructure of technical and financial assistance is available
to architects, builders, homeowners and communities. Many of these
organizations focus on energy-efficiency. But, most do consider
other areas of green design, and many advocate the "whole-house
Assistance comes in the form of guidelines, standards, incentive
programs, grants, certification and ratings programs. A few of these
"Affordable Home" Initiatives
Affordable housing and economic development advocates support
legislative mandates and establish requirements to include energy
efficiency and renewable energy into housing assisted by their
and Ratings Programs
Certification and ratings programs create partnerships between
builders and federal, state, local and non-profit organizations
to enhance communities and home marketability one home at a time.
These programs often provide builders with training, audits, recommendations,
third-party certification and sometimes marketing and mortgage
Efficiency and Renewable Energy Initiatives
Organizations working to promote energy non-renewable energy conservation
strive to provide tax incentives and guidance that will help builders
and consumers more effectively incorporate renewable energy and
energy efficiency into their homes.
- Audits and Utility Incentives
Many utility companies provide audits and incentives for energy
efficiency as well as renewable energy technology development.
For example, Seattle Public Utilities and partners have joined
to promote sustainable design and construction practices and technology
in the building and landscaping industries. They Provide technical
assistance on many municipal and commercial projects.
Some construction may also qualify consumers for higher than normal
debt-to-income ratio when calculating loan potentials, enlarging
the market of potential home-buyers.
|The market is ripe for green building. Builders and architects
who actively market green features will capture a slice of this quick