Real estate markets feature available properties for sale that come in all shapes and sizes, new and old, basic to extravagant, and wasteful to green. There was a time not so long ago that taking sustainability into consideration when building or remodeling a home was not a concern. Those days seem to be behind us. The industry has taken more notice with each passing year, even though the green movement has formally been making steady strides for the last three decades.
According to the US Green Building Council, “Simply put, a green home uses less energy, water and natural resources compared to a standard home. It is more efficient, and so creates less waste. In addition, a green home can be a much healthier habitat for the people living inside.” Those statements certainly prove that there are many compelling reasons to go green, including sustainability of the planet as a whole. However, it is often the bottom line that dictates whether a homeowner can truly make the enhancements that they would like to, even when they can see the tangible cost savings in the distance. Fortunately, green can also be affordable.
If you decide to build a green home prior to beginning construction, the costs are generally less than if you choose to retrofit later. The operational cost savings will begin immediately upon occupancy, while the longer term benefits will include lower maintenance costs from having a higher quality built home and increased value and/or ease of sale down the road.
To drill down on some common green practices that we see on a regular basis, efficiency improvements are widespread and come in the form of insulation, windows, heating systems, lighting and appliances among others. In our climate, taking extra steps to ensure that insulation is beyond the level simply required may be one of the best investments a homeowner can make. By choosing highly efficient systems and products, the annual cost savings on residential energy bills can vary greatly but anywhere from 5% for basic upgrades to 50% for LEED-certified homes can be experienced.
The higher level of net-zero homes and LEED-certified homes are the epitome of sustainable housing. Net-zero means that the home produces enough energy to run itself. This is most commonly accomplished through the use of rooftop solar panels. Bozeman was in the forefront of residential LEED-certification when Mavor Design and Construction built one of the first platinum level certified homes in the state of Montana back in 2009. Though many homes won’t go fully to that extent, any green implementation is a step in the right direction.
Whether you are building a new home or retrofitting your existing home to meet certain green standards, surround yourself with professionals who have the knowledge and experience to truly know how to make the most cost effective adjustments. The National Association of Home Builders has enacted the Certified Green Professional™ designation to “recognize builders, remodelers and other industry professionals who incorporate green and sustainable building principles into homes— without driving up the cost of construction.” The City of Bozeman has shown its commitment to the cause by providing an abundance of information on their website, bozeman.net. The topics in the Sustainability resource section run the gamut from choosing the best light bulbs to long range city infrastructure planning which supports efficiency. It is certainly worth diving into if you are looking to increase your overall green knowledge. Besides making adaptations that include recycled building materials, saving on water and electricity, and reducing the impact on build sites, any steps we can make to leave the world a little better place is worth the effort.