2020 Made Going Green A Given

After 2020, building for sustainability is the new standard

By Brian Alvarado

As the world finally closes the book on 2020, it’s important for the green homebuilding industry to look back and reflect on the year that was. As hard as it might be, this past year could’ve been what the world needed to take strides to a healthier and happier future.

With the year coming to a close, it’s important for the green building industry to take notice of what’s propelling the market to thrive, and applying it to 2021 and beyond.

With the year coming to a close, it’s important for the green building industry to take notice of what’s propelling the market to thrive, and applying it to 2021 and beyond.

A Market Exists for Green Homes

If there’s one thing that 2020 showed us, it’s the fact that a market does exist for energy-efficient homes.

In an October article by NGBS’s Michelle Foster, she spoke about the booming demand of greener homes.

“Most consumers prefer more energy-efficient homes and are willing to pay more for energy efficiency,” Foster wrote. “Energy-efficient home builders report that their homes sell faster, for more money, and perhaps more importantly, that their buyers are more satisfied with their energy-efficient home than with their former inefficient homes.”

Additionally, in a survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) of its members, 59% of residential consumers “were very or somewhat interested in sustainability.”

So the demand is there for greener homes — it’s on homebuilders to begin fulfilling that demand.

Health and Wellness

Yes, we might sound like a broken record, but if there’s one topic that’s garnered attention even outside the building industry, it’s that of health and wellness. And it’s not just the health and wellness of us, but that of our environment. The move toward a healthier future was already prevalent pre-pandemic — current conditions have only intensified that move.

In U.S. Green Building Council Los Angeles’ Ben Stapleton’s column, he talks about what consumers are potentially thinking about when looking for a home.

“People everywhere are much more aware of the condition of their environments, from airflow and ventilation to cleaning practices and entry technology, and the potential impact of the space they occupy on their health,” Stapleton said.

In an article from the September/October issue of Green Home Builder, Blake Goble of B Space LLC talked about how industry professionals need to keep their builds environmentally responsible as well.

“As conceivers and planners, we have the greatest responsibility for incorporating long-term values into construction projects, from urban towers to small renovations,” Goble said. “It’s critical that all of us keep our focus on how we can exist, and thrive, in a healthy and diverse ecosystem, a stable economy and a society that is equitable and just for decades to come.”

The topic of health and wellness is something that will be here to stay long after this pandemic is over.

Take Advantage of Technology

One of the most important aspects of our industry that was highlighted by the pandemic was technology —imagine 2020 without it. The use of technology been a driving force in keeping our industry moving with the utilization of virtual tours, video call consultations and interactive documents.

In WHA’s Julia Malisos’ column for this issue, she mentions that that technology has become our lifeline to work, family, supplies and gatherings.

“The new reliance on technology and virtual capabilities has resulted in efficiency, improved production and cost benefits,” Malisos said. “The shift toward virtual technology has found many new advocates wanting to continue these modernized work methods.”

Getting more specific, smart home technology is also something getting more popular for the convenience it brings and the efficiency it can provide.

According to a survey done by Greener Ideal with 1,000 respondents, 46% of respondents shared that convenience was a leading reason for purchasing smart home technology, while an estimated 481.9 million homes will be equipped with smart technology by 2025.

Additionally, smart appliances save home owners tons of money. For example, smart water heaters can save you approximately $4,500 over 10 years, while smart fridges can save you somewhere around $134 a year.

And technology was actually something that buyers, which are 37% millennials according to the NAR, were already seeking when searching for a new home pre pandemic.

In 2019, Cox Communications conducted a survey that polled 604 millennials and Gen X’ers who intended to purchase a home within two years. 43% of respondents said that technology would drive their decision to purchase a brand new home as opposed to resale.

With 2021 coming into view, the move toward a greener future has never been more prevalent. As the market for green homes continues to grow, the idea of innovating with technology while putting an emphasis on health and wellness will be something builders will take with them into the future to be successful.

Brian Alvarado is the editor for Green Home Builder Magazine. He can be reached at brian@builder.media.