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Green Building Trends Residential Contractors Should Know

Image of lots of buildings and trees

Written by: Holly Welles, The Estate Update

Published: April 16, 2020

As consumers become more Earth-conscious, a growing number are searching for ways to make their home building and home improvement projects more eco-friendly. Even so, many potential customers aren't aware of what going green may entail. Based on their convictions, wants, and needs, this may differ from person to person.

As more people begin to look for ways to minimize their impact on the planet, contractors must be ready to educate them on the specifics and be prepared to meet their demands.

Three Green Building Concerns from Homeowners

1. Location

The average American spends about 26 minutes commuting to work every day. If they work five days a week, this adds up to people spending nearly five hours in their cars each week. Of course, all this driving contributes to carbon dioxide emissions. As part of the green building trend, many people are looking to live in homes closer to their workplaces.

To accommodate buyers, home builders might look for land near the city center or close to resources like grocery stores, gyms, or shopping malls. Contractors might also choose to renovate an older home and flip it to meet modern standards. This conserves resources and makes use of pre-existing home locations that are already connected to roads and the city center.

2. Water Conservation

Each day, the average American uses 88 gallons of water, whether it be showering, washing dishes and clothes, or brushing teeth. As people begin to realize their overconsumption, more homebuyers are looking for built-in systems to conserve water.

To aid in this conservation, contractors can install water-efficient appliances that either use less water, filter it, or reuse it—as is the case with greywater. Although unsafe to drink, people can use greywater from sinks, washing machines, and more to flush toilets or water lawns. This will require you to install separate pipes and collection tanks for drinkable and undrinkable water.

Landscapers also play a crucial role in water conservation efforts. Clients in flood-prone regions are dealing with stormwater runoff and new environmental regulations for impervious surfaces. Contractors with experience installing permeable hardscaping, planning absorbent gardens, and sculpting land will be better equipped to supply clients with energy-efficient landscaping solutions.

3. Efficient and Renewable Energy

Residential buildings account for 22 percent of the United States’ total energy consumption and 17 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Despite greater use of conventional energy-efficient techniques—like better insulation and LED lights—the Energy Information Administration still projects this will only reduce energy consumption by 1 percent.

The key is to substitute carbon-free techniques for these other energy options. This may include solar panels, wind power, or even geothermal energy. These options are renewable and don't rely on typical energy sources.

Moreover, natural sources of heat, light, and cooling are also viable options when it comes to energy efficiency. For example, designers may design a building with double-paned windows facing south. This will allow for insulation and natural heat during the winter. During the warmer months, the house will naturally be cooler and less sunlit.

Why Are Homeowners Going Green?

In addition to conservation, global warming, and moral responsibility, homeowners and buyers are also going green in the name of financial savings.

Energy-efficient systems and renewables may require a larger initial investment for buyers. However, the system will pay for itself over time as long as they commit to maintaining all the equipment. Green energy appliances and installations will result in lower monthly energy bills compared to nonrenewable energy.

Furthermore, many homebuyers are looking to have their home certified in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. A LEED certification recognizes green homes that have attained a certain level of sustainability achievement. This boosts curb appeal, resale value, and a homebuyer's satisfaction, which is what you want.

Having conversations with homebuyers early on about LEED accreditation, as well as how much they're willing to spend on efficiency, water conservation, and location, is the best way to meet your customers' demands and run a successful business.

Expand Your Business With Green Home Services

Home builders and contractors in any niche are equipped to expand into green home services. Learning which projects are trending in the industry can help you better serve clients with a growing interest in owning and maintaining green homes.

An increased focus on energy efficiency, water conservation, and other environmental aims creates both intrinsic and financial gains. Plus, the options extend far beyond the trends listed above. Builders, landscapers, and general contractors can keep tabs on the specific growth opportunities in their own markets to provide extra value.