Younger buyers demand more energy efficient homes

Categories: Home Stylings

Homes are becoming greener and more energy efficient according to research by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). As the association prepares to begin New Homes Month throughout April, NAHB reported that greener homes are increasingly being demanded by buyers.

“Our builder members are telling us that more and more buyers are looking at new homes for their efficiency in design and functionality,” said NAHB chairman Tom Woods, a home builder from Blue Springs, Missouri. “Whether it’s improved insulation or sustainable building materials, today’s new homes can reach higher energy performance and greater durability than was possible even 20 years ago.”

Younger buyers are coming to the market with environmental awareness high on their agendas and a NAHB survey reveals that 84 per cent of millennials will pay 2-3% more for a home if its efficiency will deliver savings on energy bills.

So it's working!  See, all it takes is a bit of momentum in a particular direction, and others catch on.  I've heard complaints from some of the wind power and solar companies that the demand for their products from consumers isn't what they expected.  The fact is that new home construction is still in a terrible slump.  But as they are building, people are looking for efficiency first.  And until the tract builders build them, many people will build rather than buy to get a net zero energy home if they can.  

A Zero Net Energy (ZNE) home is common sense. It’s a home that’s designed and built to produce more energy than it consumes over the course of a year. Taking into account the economical and ecological costs of energy today, the inclusion of some energy-producing component that is able to contribute energy to the grid is key to the success of a ZNE home. Below is a basic diagram that outlines many of the features you’ll find in a zero net energy home.

View an interactive graphic that describes each component of a typical ZNE home in more detail

To you, a zero net energy home means many things including:

  • Energy bills too low to matter.
  • A home that will “hum along” no matter what energy costs.
  • A very comfortable, constant air temperature thanks to state-of-the-art, custom energy and comfort systems.
  • A super-insulated building envelope that creates a virtually sound-proof interior environment.
  • Lots of natural daylight resulting from accurately-specified windows and glazings, proper orientation for solar gain, and eaves & overhangs that allow desired winter sun and block unwanted summer sun.
  • Cloudy cold snap storage in the form of heat stored in water on-site (usually a large tank), or in the form of electricity stored in the grid from excess summertime PV production.
  • Sustainable, beautiful, toxin-free counter tops, cabinets, carpets, paints and stain finishes.
  • Salvaged, recycled-content and low embodied energy materials wherever possible.
  • Airtight construction to ENERGY STAR standards.
  • Solar collection for hot water and electricity production.
  • A home built to last more than 100 years.

How is a ZNE home achieved?

Achieving a zero net energy balance means first lowering energy demand (i.e. loads) as much as possible, and then choosing a form of clean energy supply (i.e. production) such as on-site renewable energy in solar PVs, or through purchase of renewable energy credits.

Other important considerations are required to achieve a zero net energy home including:

Site-Specific Design

Continuous meetings between architect, builder and homeowners throughout design and construction to ensure that the house is designed to take advantage of site conditions and local climate, such as in solar orientation, prevailing winds, and climatic trends.

Advanced Engineering & Computer Modeling

Skilled mechanical engineers, modeling software experts and building science consultants are among Ecofutures’ core team of designers to provide a comprehensive analysis of the home’s heating, cooling, and power needs & ensure an adequately sized system is installed.

Interior Design Consulting

Ensuring healthy home construction means more than specifying natural materials; it means overseeing every individual item used during construction from solvents and adhesives to finishes and furnishings. Ecofutures provides excellent design consultation services for special-needs clients such as chemically sensitive and highly-allergenic homeowners.

Renewable Energy Research & Development

Highest-efficiency photovoltaic and thermal energy systems are researched and selected to eliminate heat and electric bills powering the home, and providing clean, green energy to the electric grid

Project Management & Quality Control

Our full-time project managers, which are assigned to only one job at a time, oversee construction & subcontractor labor to ensure the home is built as tightly as possible, and no unhealthy or toxic materials are used.

Sources:  MPAEcofutures building

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