"Resource-efficient construction" or "Green Building"
is about the efficient use of resources, so that we meet our needs in
ways that allow future generations to meet theirs. The goals of resource-efficient
construction aim at decreased long-term and lifecycle costs associated
with building construction, while maintaining reasonable upfront costs.
How does a builder realize the benefits and manage costs? Planning.
While most green building activities require more upfront planning, many
green features do not add material or labor costs. A well-designed home
with less square footage and air-sealed building envelope can reduce costs
through reductions in materials use, waste, water and energy, as well
as raising the quality of comfort in the finished space.
Some "green" features do have higher upfront 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 smaller heating and cooling equipment.
Reasons to Change
Perhaps the best reason builders and designers should consider
green building is because that is what people want.
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." Source: http://www.housingzone.com/topics/nahb/green/nhb00ca002.asp
The Gallup Organization's 2001 Earth Day Report indicates 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 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. 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. Source: http://www.housingzone.com/green/
Many architects and builders, however, are 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. "Builders
and architects alike believe that green building will corner increasing
amounts of the market share for new home construction." Source:
Chapter III part IV and Conclusion http://www.housingzone.com/topics/nahb/green/nhb00ca002.asp
Trends show there is interest and activity toward 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. Consumers are challenging the status quo and more
builders are educating consumers about what they can provide.
P2 in Action:
Green homes offer benefits to both the builder and homeowner.
Marketing studies indicate that builders will profit from efforts to design
sustainable homes simply because more people want them. For the homeowner,
immediate comfort, health benefits, and cost savings tend to extrapolate
to long term environmental benefits.
- 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).
Resources and Assistance
Many public, non-profit and private organizations promote green
building practices in the United States. Technical and financial assistance
is available to architects, builders, homeowners, and communities. Many
organizations focus on energy-efficiency, but most consider other areas
of green design and advocate the "whole-house design" approach.
Assistance comes in the form of guidelines, standards, incentive programs,
grants, certification and ratings programs. A few of these resources are:
"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 programs.
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 information.
Energy 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
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 growing market.