Actually, there’s a considerable difference!
The downturn in the economy has forced many builders to rethink how they approach their market now that it is much smaller. In many cases builders have chosen to address the increasing demand for green homes. By offering green homes, and many builders are now meeting their ‘customers’ needs for energy- and water-efficient homes with a healthier environment in line with financial benefits. What once was classed as a niche, can now be seen as on the way to mainstream. But what is a green home exactly, and what are the benefits compared to that of a traditional one?
One of the most important things to look for in a green home is third-party verification. Unfortunately, many builders falsely classify the homes that they offer as green by simply replacing white goods with energy efficient ones by providing the Energy Star rating system. This verification program focuses mostly on energy efficiency, which is a key part of green buildings, granted – but not enough to call it fully GREEN.
We recently produced an article covering a sustainable home in Javea, Spain – a stunning structure and eco-home concept that has successfully achieved what it really means to be Truly Green.
You can read the full article – from concept to actuality – ‘Villa El Bosque’ here.
So what KEY features should you be looking for when deciding to go GREEN?
A Sustainable Site and Location is an Extremely Important Element: This is so often overlooked when building, because simply, available land is what we choose to build on. Avoiding inappropriate sites such as farmland and locating the site near existing infrastructure, like busy roads, sewers and storm water systems and allows builders to lessen negative impact on a home’s surroundings.
- Water Conservation: Conserving water can be economically done by installing low-flow fixtures that can often cost the same as less efficient models. Water can also be saved considerably in landscaping applications by simply choosing the proper plants, which was also a main factor of the Villa El Bosque project.
Energy Conservation: Probably the most important part of building green is energy conservation. By implementing passive design, structural insulated panels (SIPs), efficient lighting, and renewable energy panels like those provided by Solar in Spain, a specialist renewable energy company totally dedicated to renewable energy that installs the world’s leading solar energy systems in homes and businesses throughout Spain. Solar in Spain produce energy systems that are also backed by guarantees of up to 25 years and can be installed with 100% interest-free finance. That alone should tick several money saving and energy conservation boxes, including the question of, “How can you afford to convert to green?” Well… now you can!
Materials: Green materials include many different options. Most often, people assume “green” means recycled. Although recycled materials represent one option, green materials include reused materials and renewable materials like stone, bamboo cork, or any of the materials local to your region representing this. Remember, a green material does not have to cost more or be of lesser or higher quality – this is a common myth busted, you only need to do your homework to realise this. When you do, you will find that most green products are comparable to their non-green counterparts.
- Indoor Environmental Quality: The quality of the indoor environment plays a pivotal role in a person’s health. In many cases, a much healthier environment can be created through avoiding hazardous materials found in paint, carpet, and other finishes.Now let’s move on to the MAIN reason (apart from doing right by our planet) people opt for GREEN.
That’s right… MONEY!
The Financial aspects and benefits accredited to going GREEN are:
It is also important to have proper ventilation and ample day time lighting. (I can’t emphasise enough the need to read the article on Villa Le Bosque because these guys have this whole eco-economy green thing covered… and SOME!
- Sustainable Site and Location: It is very hard to identify any type of cost premium or savings directly attributed to using this feature to build green.
- Water Conservation: A newly constructed home can implement products with what is technically known as a Water Sense label at no additional costs and achieve a water savings of 20% when including the water heater savings and the water itself. This one you will need to discuss when buying off-plan as a new build.
- Energy Conservation: Energy conservation is definitely the most intensive when it comes to cost premiums for implementation. However, it also has the largest potential for savings. Minimum savings can be achieved at no additional cost by pursuing passive design strategies. The next step up from passive design in the level of green (and ultimately the level of savings) would be implementing advanced building envelope materials, like structural insulated panels (SIPs). Whether this form of construction type thinking exists in climates such as the Spanish takes a hefty bit of investigating, but so far my ‘guess-timation’ is… rarely.
Choosing Materials: Choosing materials is always a matter of preference and taste. What Mr Brown likes may not be what Mrs Jones does. Green products are available at every quality level and at prices comparable to their non-green counterparts. For that reason, no cost premium is associated with the materials chosen for purchase. However, choosing recycled and reused products can save you money. With so many factors to take into consideration, the eco-friendly home buyer would need to be an avid one, however so much can be implemented to make radical changes to your existing home also.
Green homes really are the future!
So as you can see, green homes are a great alternative to conventional home building in every application. The finished product offers not only increased health, energy and water savings, but a higher standard of living with numerous financial benefits. Often a green home can even result in local real estate tax savings. Certainly, as green homes continue to take shape in our world, their competitive advantage will soon become crystal clear and traditional home building will thankfully become a thing of the past.
Something this and future generations can be proud of!