Green Homes – The Good, The Bad & The Green

As Homes become greener, great efforts are continually being made to introduce sustainable features into mainstream construction projects. “Going Green” is certainly an idea worth entertaining.  Its benefits can have a lasting impact for generations. However, what is really the good, the bad and the true green of embracing sustainable housing trends? More importantly, are green homes the next evolution in the real estate industry?

In Hawaii, housing elements are being modified by the green movement. Greener communities are being updated and built, more eco-friendly construction materials and practices are being integrated, not to mention the tax incentives for those that partake in becoming more energy efficient, and many of these features continue to be in high demand.

Yet, many homeowners, home buyers, and real estate professionals still don’t fully understand the true scope of “Going Green”. There is a lot that goes into the creation of green homes. Before you consider them a possibility, it is important to familiarize yourself with the good and bad that true green offers:

The Good

  1. Savings – Going green can provide a ton of cost effective benefits for the owner and renter. In many areas, existing homes can receive thousands of dollars in rebates from local governments for installing features like rainwater harvesting systems and solar panels. The most advanced green homes, in the right areas, can realize zero utility bills (you still need rain and sun for these to work obviously). Compounded, these savings could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars over the life of a property.
  2. Planet Saving – Placing an emphasis on the environment is not on everyones priority list, however, green homes have proven to make a big difference. For instance, the features dramatically reduce our carbon footprint.  As one agency estimates, 40% of global primary energy consumption and 25% of carbon dioxide emissions actually come from existing buildings, not cars. As you can see, clean energy built into homes and used to produce homes can reduce pollution and preserve resources.
  3. Doing the Right Thing – For real estate professionals, being socially responsible and environmentally conscious can go a long way in endorsements and public opinion.  Eco-friendly and energy efficient features may be optional, but increased regulations will eliminate a lot of choices in the future.  Therefore, doing it right the first time around when building or renovating a home, can improve total returns in the long run.

The Bad

  1. The Costs – Though going green can save you money on your water and electric bill, some property designs have achieved affordability, but it would be misleading to suggest going green is cheap.  Run the numbers carefully before making the change. Some additions do save money in the long run, but upfront costs can be pricey.
  2. Liability – Keep in mind, there are healthy benefits of using new materials in construction and interior design, then again, there are many new materials being re-purposed for use in homes that have not been evaluated long enough to confirm they are safe for living with. The liability, make sure you do your due diligence to avoid a lawsuit later on down the road. Use materials that have been confirmed safe to avoid any complications.
  3. Challenges with Financing & Permitting – It’s amazing, eco-friendly designs are being pushed to new limits, creative concepts are surfacing up everywhere. However, these designs and concepts can create unexpected surprises when obtaining a mortgage loan, building permits and Certificates of Occupancy.