A Promising Look into the Sustainable Future

Although the future of the housing market seems unclear, innovations in green home building point towards optimism
By Dani Neiley

With the recent presidential election causing such a rift across America, the future of the housing market seems uncertain. Currently, the effect the upcoming Trump administration will have on the housing market brings a lot of questions to mind, as no housing policies have been set in stone. But despite the present uncertainty, there’s no reason to lose hope; looking back over the year, green building has come a long way, and the future is nothing but promising.

With the 2020 deadline for all homes built in California to be Zero Net Energy Ready just three short years away, builders that aren’t on the clean energy bandwagon now should start soon before they have to scramble. The future seems promising in that regard: our Developer of the Year, Jamboree Housing Corporation, is already exceeding expectations with one of its newest multifamily complexes, Rockwood Apartments, in Anaheim, Calif.

According to a press release dated November 8th, 2016: “With its sustainable design and operation, Rockwood Apartments exceeds California’s Title 24 energy efficiency standards by at least 17.5 percent.” On top of the community’s commitment to energy efficiency, Rockwood has been designed to receive a LEED Gold rating. Not only does this mean higher energy efficiency, but lower energy costs for residents—a beneficial situation all around. And this is for affordable housing. If they can do it, there’s no reason for others builders to be lagging behind.

Building green isn’t solely focused on energy efficiency. Thrive Home Builders, our 2016 Builder of the Year, takes pride in creating a healthy home: “We did find that building a healthy home is a natural evolution of building an energy-efficient home,” said Gene Myers, founder and CEO of Thrive Home Builders. “We are designing all of our new homes to exceed the EPA’s Indoor airPLUS standards for air quality, meaning the home is built to minimize the owners’ exposure to airborne pollutants and contaminants.”

Indoor airPLUS is a companion program of the Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Ready Home program, and builders like Thrive are helping it to gain traction, as well as convince homeowners that living in a healthy home should be one of their top requirements for a home.

In our July/August issue of Green Home Builder, Sergio Flores, Green Home Builder’s Assistant Editor, discussed the usage of recycled materials in homes and how their inclusion in residential construction was becoming increasingly popular. Thrive Home Builders follows this trend by using beetle kill pine in the framing of their homes. For the past several years in Colorado, mountain pine beetles have killed a large number of pine trees in the mountains. If left in the forest, the dead trees can contribute negatively to climate change and become a wildfire hazard. Recycling the wood and using it in housing projects creates a positive effect on the environment, and it’s an innovative way to move forward.

Additionally, an open mind to the possibilities of green building and changes in consumer needs and wants is a good idea to have. De Young Properties, who built and developed Sierra Crest, our featured Community of the Year, looks forward to building into a promising future. “As a third generation builder, we find that staying ahead of industry trends and always building towards the most innovative ways of constructing a home is a key selling point in our market,” said Brandon De Young, Vice President of De Young Properties. “Our homebuyers are looking for cutting-edge building science and technology to save money while also helping the environment.”

In the coming year, expect to see more home builders touting energy efficiency programs such as De Young’s SmartHome, which allows floorplans to be designed as ‘Zero Net Electric’. A De Young SmartHome also includes a solar energy system, which can reduce annual electricity usage to zero and save money on energy bills.

With this small sampling of outstanding home builders making such forward progress in green building, they’re certainly setting examples for the rest of the companies in the industry around them. Though we may not be sure of what will happen to the homebuilding industry in the coming years, we can be sure that the future of green home building is in good hands—and has plenty of good ideas.

Dani Neiley is an Assistant Editor for Green Home Builder magazine. She may be reached at dani@penpubinc.com.