Benefits of a Green Home

Blue LEED house in Northampton, Massachusetts

The average homeowner in the United States forks out $2,000 a year in energy bills. All that energy use makes up 20 percent of the country’s energy usage. That enormous use of energy produces a corresponding amount of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), which means buying a green home could be the single best thing you could do for the environment. And the environment isn’t the only thing that stands to benefit from buying green—your health, comfort, finances and community can also realize substantial benefits.

Environment

Reduced GHG emissions – Built with lower embodied energy and designed to reduce energy consumption, green homes mean less emissions. An ENERGY STAR home, for example, can keep as much as 2000 kg of greenhouse gases out of the air every year.

Reduced waste and use of resources – Since more than one-quarter of the United States’ total non-industrial waste comes from building, opting for a green home that economizes materials and uses recycled and reused materials means far less waste and the peace of mind knowing that your home economized on materials.

Preserving environmentally sensitive land – In general, the larger the home, the larger the footprint. Green homes are designed to do more with less. More functional space means less actual space is needed, resulting in a smaller impact on the environment.

Durable – Home renovations have a significant impact on the environment once building materials, transportation of those materials, energy consumption and waste are accounted for. By choosing materials such as fibre-cement over vinyl siding and metal roofing over asphalt shingles, green homes are designed to last longer and require less renovation.

Health and quality of life

Indoor air quality (IAQ) – Green homes use low- or zero-VOC paints and building materials that have little or no formaldehyde, saving your respiratory and immune systems from getting stressed. Good ventilation moves chemicals and odours out of the home quickly, ensuring less exposure to the harmful effects of chemicals and the unpleasant smell of bad odours.

Comfort – Since green homes tend to have better insulation, they produce less temperature variations between rooms and minimize drafts.

Quieter – Triple-paned windows and increased insulation do a better job preventing sound from entering the home.

Finance

Incentives – Green homes qualify for a number of different incentives. Utility rebates, grants, property tax incentives, low-interest loans and building permit fee waivers to name just a few. The DSIRE database lists them according to geographic region along with statewide and federal incentives.

Lower operating costs – With utility rates steadily climbing, renewable energy sources such as solar PV or wind will produce more energy savings than ever before. Other resource-saving alternatives include low-flow showers, rainwater harvesting, and xeriscaping. Homeowners buying a home built according to the Passive House specification, for example, can expect their home to consume 90 per cent less heating energy than a conventional home.

Increased resale value – Though just some people will pay a premium to live in a green home, everyone likes to save money on utility bills, making green homes a wise investment. A study by the Earth Advantage Institute found that homes certified with ENERGY STAR or LEED designations sold for 30 per cent more than conventionally built homes.

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image: Phil LaCombe (CC - Some Rights Reserved)

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