Many builders and homeowners have heard the common myths about green home remodeling and building, including that it is more expensive and the materials are limited and lower quality. On the contrary, eco-friendly building and remodeling is one of the absolute best investments you can make. Building an environmentally friendly house is highly economical in the long run, paying for itself with energy savings in under a decade as well as increasing home value. But it’s not all about the money – Building an environmentally friendly house means protecting the planet while creating a healthier home for you and your family.
Resonance Companies principal Melissa Rappaport Schifman was delighted to recently go through the process of getting her home LEED Gold Certified. Says Schifman, “The beautiful thing about the word “green” is that it captures two of the most important things that most people care about: their health, and their money. And there is a wonderful third reason to go green: The community benefits in the long run, because it is better for the planet.” We think Schifman hit the nail on the head! The benefits of living in a green home almost always fall into three main or core groups: Economic benefits, health benefits, and reduced environmental impact. Here are more reasons why to go green and tips for building an environmentally friendly house.
Economic benefits: A return on investment
Most people would agree that their biggest asset is their home, so it makes sense to invest in it as wisely as possible — and green investments are some of the best investments you can make. The U.S. Green Building Council states: “By virtue of lowered maintenance and energy costs the return on investment from green building is rapid. Green retrofit projects are generally expected to pay for itself in just seven years.”
Lower monthly costs
Farah Ahmed, a fifth-year architecture student at New York City College, urges that green homes provide long-term savings: “Green homes utilize less energy, resulting in cheaper utility bills.” A sustainable home has better insulation, sealed windows and doors, efficient cooling and heating, energy-efficient lighting and appliances, water-saving toilets, and more. All of these components of a green home dramatically cut the cost of monthly electricity and water bills.
LEED-certified buildings boast an impressive energy and cost savings. The U.S. Green Building Council reports that LEED homes show nearly 20 percent lower maintenance costs than traditionally-built homes.
Building an environmentally friendly house means high quality building, and green projects will often last much longer than comparable projects. “Over time, [we will] save money in maintenance and replacement costs,” says Schifman of her newly LEED-certified home. Says Ahmed, “Durable materials last a long time — not only are they sustainable, but they save the cost of replacement and regular maintenance.” Ahmed adds that some states offer incentives, such as tax rebates, for living in a green home, so it would be worthwhile to check out your local government regulations.
Increased home value
One commonly overlooked benefit of green building and remodeling projects is that green building will notably increase the value of your home. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, initial investments in green building make a property much more valuable, with an average expected increase in value of 4 percent. Ahmed agrees that home value will be much higher, since homebuyers “are attracted to lower utility and maintenance costs.”
One of the most well-known benefits of building an environmentally friendly house is the positive impact green building has on the environment. For starters, says Ahmed, “Using renewable and clean energy sources lessens our reliance on fossil fuels and other depleting sources.” In addition, in a traditional build, the construction process alone generates plenty of waste and toxic emissions. In a green build, the negative impact is lessened through recycling of materials and lower emissions during the materials manufacturing process.
Recycled and zero-waste products
Because of the fairly recent rise in popularity of green building, it’s possible to find a recycled counterpart to almost every single traditional building material. 100% recycled countertops, recycled steel as an alternative to traditional wood frames, recycled content doors, even recycled roofing – these are all great examples of the earth-friendly alternatives to common building materials. Some recycled products, such as this recycled composite decking, actually remove more potential waste from the planet than it takes to produce them, making the products waste-negative.
Healthy Home, Healthy Life
Many green builders cite providing a healthy home for their family as one of their main reasons for going green. One of the biggest health improvements green building makes in a home is better air quality. This improvement in air quality is largely due to the non-toxic materials used in eco-friendly building. In addition, green homes are likely to feature purer ventilation systems as well as air purifiers. Ahmed points out that instead of the traditional-build method of recycling stale indoor air, “fresh outdoor air is continuously brought into the [green] home, promoting a healthier indoor environment.” And during green construction projects, Ahmed adds, “less toxic waste is emitted into the air.”
13 Tips for Building an Environmentally Friendly House
The benefits of building green are plentiful, and there’s no shortage of information and tips on how to go for a green build or remodel. This infographic by Green Home Gnome gives 13 tips for building a green home, including choosing environmentally-friendly building materials like Structural Insulation Panels (SIPs) and natural finishes, introducing solar power, and going for green HVAC technology.
Infographic courtesy of Green Home Gnome.
Resources for building an environmentally friendly house:
- ProudGreenHome, Ask The Experts: 5 Benefits of Living In A Green Home
- U.S. Green Building Council
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Green Building