Many of us have recently been hearing about growth in a few areas of our economy. For example: social media and on-line shopping are growing and there are predictions that tourism and travel are going to take off. Prognosticators are forecasting an elevated demand in the market for “Green Homes.” It is intriguing, not because “Green Homes” deliver great lifestyle for Americans, but surprising simply because it is taking place so quickly. The time has arrived! I will do my best to present what every future owner of “Green Homes” should know as we enter a new era of Eco-friendly homes.
Now, what exactly is a “Green” Home?
A Green home is typically designed to be Eco-friendly, ingesting less water, using renewable materials, generating less waste, being energy-efficient, and delivering healthy livable space for homeowners. Owning a Green Home possesses both tangible and intangible benefits.
• Savings in Energy: 50 – 70 %
• Savings in Water: 30 – 50%
• Enhancing air quality
• Health and well-being of the residents
• Conservation of scarce of national resources
• Effective waste management
• Day lighting
• Enhancing marketability of the project.
What’s the Florida Green Home market offering today?
Well, the quickest answer is, not too much. There are a few construction companies that are offering certified green homes to a marketplace, which is definitely considered to be a good niche. Many builders and landscapers are using selected “green” features, such as solar panels, energy-efficient lighting, waste water treatments, landscaping designs, etc. Even though all these are all welcome improvements, simply contributing a few Eco-friendly features is not enough for a home to be considered “GREEN”. We might call it Eco-conscious, but it cannot be certified as “green” on these criteria alone.
Any homebuyer looking for a Green home ought to realize that there is a lot of “green washing” in the market. Nearly every single builder these days promises he “builds green” by demonstrating few of Eco-friendly features. However, in reality, very few builders perform due diligence, with respect to protecting the environment, prior to marketing their project. There are virtually no checks and balances on the life-cycle of building materials, whether or not the design and style of the house is energy-efficient, the level of chemical contaminants being released into the environment during construction, and what is the actual durability of the building and all systems in it. This approach may sound confusing for a home buyer, however it doesn’t have to be.
What are the requirements for being certified “Green”?
A holistic perspective is needed when preparing for the construction of an Eco-friendly home. Besides being energy-efficient, the builder must ensure that there is negligible disruption to the home site. In addition, it also should provide excellent indoor Eco-friendly quality for its residents. When buying or constructing Eco-friendly homes it is beneficial to verify that the project is actually CERTIFIED GREEN.
Nowadays, virtually any developer and every private homeowner has the option of having their project Certified Green. These certifications are providing home buyers with information of how “green” the Green Home really is. There is an organization in Florida that currently offers such a certification, the Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC). In accordance to the FGBC, every “green” homebuilder needs to cut down the burden on the natural environment and increase value of the home via a voluntary Florida Green Home designation. The purpose of the FGBC is to provide each builder/developer with the guidance and tools required to become a Florida “warm and friendly” builder.
The FGBC has developed a rating system which draws from the LEED green building rating system for every type of development. The FGBC rates green homes Silver, Gold, or Platinum Certified based on the greenness of the building. As the name indicates, Platinum is regarded as the peak of efficiency, health, comfort and quality. Such a qualification is practically impossible to achieve without having the holistic approach previously mentioned. This approach is a win-win for both the developer and the buyer.
* For the homebuilder such a rating may well improve the marketability of his/her project.
* For the homebuyer it will provide a specific assurance of good quality for his/her investment.
What should the homebuyer know before investing?
Despite the increased cost and planning involved in the construction of a certified green home, the benefits far outweigh the initial difficulties. Acquiring such a certification involves an incredible amount of study, planning, focus on detail, and persistence. Green home plans involve extended designing time to make sure that the final package is the most energy-efficient possible. Hence, it is natural that builders may charge a little bit extra for a green home, in comparison with a conventional one. It is essential for the homebuyers to understand that this type of certification contains a certain premium linked to it. A homebuyer should expect to invest from 6% to 15% extra initially. Considering a home as longterm investment, every homebuyer should realize that this preliminary cost will pay for itself in spades, via savings on water and energy costs, increased durability, improved productivity, and superiority of waste management. The resulting minimization of impact on the environment and decreased CO2 pollutants are simply the “cherry on a cake” of owning a Green Home.