It’s time to see the “bigger picture” to determine the true value of investing in custom residential “green” building and technology
In honor of Earth Day 2015, Jeremy Meek, DSC Sustainability Programs Manager and ASU Alumni (BS Construction Management), has revealed 4 reasons a sustainable home could potentially earn homeowners significant ROI, including improved health, lower utility costs, financial incentives, and higher resale value.
Despite recent trends among homeowners to combine advanced “green” technology with design and quality workmanship, the upfront investment associated with building sustainably often stands as a deterrent for those who fail to see the bigger picture of owning a sustainable home. When fully considered, the benefits of owning a sustainable home could end up more than paying for any upfront investments, proving that a sustainable home is not a money pit, but a source of real value.
1. NUMBERS DON’T LIE WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR HEALTH
The value of a sustainable home begins with the most obvious – the impact on people and planet. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average U.S. home emits a large portion of the nation’s carbon footprint, which is twice as much carbon dioxide as the average passenger car. Additionally, residences use 74% of water in the United States each year. The U.S. Green Building Council also presented studies that found pollutants such as dust or gases being emitted from building materials are two to five times more prevalent indoors than outdoors. This is a serious concern for the wellbeing of those inside your home, as traditional building practices don’t often take into account sustainable strategies that could potentially eliminate these risks.
2. HIRE SUSTAINABILITY EXPERTS TO LOWER COSTS
When optimally built, sustainable homes incorporate a system that refrains from using resources in the first place. Many homeowners are misled into thinking that if they install a row of solar panels or buy a piece of “green” technology they are optimizing the sustainability of their residence. While this is true to some degree, there are many factors that need to be taken into account during the design and building process that minimizes the use of resources such as electricity, water and gas consumption. Essentially, the design, construction, and operation of the house need to be viewed from a holistic systems approach.
“The best course of action to ensure a sustainable home is fully optimized is to employ an experienced team of professionals, including the architect, builder, interior designer and engineering consultants,” stated DSC President Jerry Meek. “Their mission is to implement the most insightful plan of action to build and maintain the highest quality, most ecologically and financially sustainable home that achieves the homeowner’s lifestyle goals.”
3. CAPITALIZE ON BIG INCENTIVES
Also included in the value of owning a sustainable home are local and national incentives. According to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (www.dsireusa.org), there are currently 48 incentives, special loans and tax credit programs in the state of Arizona developed specifically to encourage energy efficiency and sustainability initiatives within the home. The design and construction team should be knowledgeable of such programs and be able to properly guide the homeowner through the planning, design and construction process to ensure all necessary measures are completed to optimize the sustainability and value of the home.
4. SUSTAINABILITY EARNS POTENTIAL TOP DOLLAR
With the trend to “Go Green” coupled with the rising cost of resources such as energy and water, potential homebuyers are creating a demand for houses that offer more than design. According to a 2011 study conducted by the nonprofit organization Earth Advantage Institute, new houses with third-party certifications for sustainability and energy efficiency (such as LEED for Homes or Energy Star designations) sold for nine percent more than noncertified homes. The same study, as reported by The Washington Post, also noted that homes marketed with sustainability certifications appeared to sell faster on average than those without. While this is very good news for those looking to sell a home optimized with sustainable features, this data provides only a snapshot of today’s real estate market. Potential buyers should always consult with an experienced realtor and appraiser to determine the actual value of sustainable property and strategies implemented in a custom home.
THE BIG PICTURE
“Focusing on the initial cost of owning a sustainable residence is the easiest way to settle for a home that is substandard in comparison to the more advanced homes available on the market,” stated Meek. “The long-term rewards of owning a sustainable home could more than pay for your investment when designed and built properly.”
There are countless benefits that come from a sustainable home, including lower utility bills, local and national incentives, and the preservation of our planet’s precious resources. By setting sights on the bigger picture of owning a sustainably built residence, homeowners benefit from a residence that offers significant returns throughout its entire life cycle.