When it Comes to Real Estate, the future is Looking Green.
The housing industry is slowly, yet steadily coming back. In spite of some initial wobbling, supply and demand are evening out and prices, production and sales are ticking steadily up.
Thanks to a larger focus on environmental consciousness, “green” construction, which seeks to maximize the use of natural resources and minimize environmental impact, has become one of the fastest growing sectors in the housing market.
Green construction has gained a foothold in everything from building to interior design. Green homes maximize the use of natural light, employ sustainable materials like bamboo and cork, and use innovative products that conserve energy and reduce waste, including Energy Star-rated appliances, energy-efficient windows and reclaimed or recycled materials.
The potential benefits of green building for the environment are significant. According to the United States Green Building Council, buildings consume 13.6 percent of all available potable water and 39 percent of the world’s raw materials, and account for 39 percent of the country’s energy use.
Green building has shifted the direction of the housing industry. The U.S. Green Building Council projects that more than half of all commercial and institutional construction projects will feature green elements. In addition, more and more traditional builders are adopting green practices, and the growth of new green building companies is increasing by 15 percent each year.
Beyond a general push toward ecological responsibility, a number of different incentives are driving demand for green construction and real estate. Savings, tax credits and government subsidies for green construction practices are enticing homeowners, business owners and building companies to adopt green practices. In addition, as energy efficiency standards become stricter, government funding has increased. It is estimated that the U.S. government will fund nearly half of all government office and school construction projects in the next two years.
The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Program also goes a long way toward incentivizing green construction. LEED uses a ratings system that evaluates the design, building and maintenance practices of eco-friendly homes, businesses, and even neighborhoods. Many states have adopted the LEED program, and provide rewards or requirements for falling within LEED standards.
All of this means that the current housing market turnaround has a new added benefit. Not only does it mean good things for homeowners, builders and the economy in general, but for the environment as well.