Bob Lindal, the president of one of the largest providers of custom cedar homes in the U.S., released a highly optimistic projection about the growth in green homes in the coming years. He sees the latest recession as a catalyst for the green building sector, stating in a recent letter that “this emerging recovery is into a fundamentally changed world with new long-term priorities in housing.”
He claims that future homes will embrace:
- Energy efficiency, to alleviate some of the costs associated with energy use.
- A higher valuation of smartly designed, naturally lit and ventilated interior spaces
- Greater restrictions on mortgage financing
- Simpler and more effective design processes
- More sustainable and efficient use of building materials
Let me give you a few reasons why I agree with him.
First of all, sustainable building design is becoming a key selling feature for both urban and suburban dwellers. I live in Vancouver, and nearly every new development that I see is in some way highlighting its reduced environmental impact. People do seem to make the link between cosmopolitan living and environmentally sustainable design. Even in the suburbs, there seems to be a growing emphasis on eco-communities and more environmentally friendly building materials. Therefore, companies that construct green buildings have a competitive advantage over companies that don’t.
Secondly, green buildings are cheaper. By making smart decisions in the design phase, you can drastically reduce energy consumption. By strategically placing windows where there are natural light corridors, you a reducing the necessity for artificial lighting in the daytime. There is also a burgeoning architectural literature on the optimal design of spaces, to ensure proper ventilation, thus de-emphasizing the need for heating systems/air conditioners.
Finally, green buildings are just more positive environments to live in. A recent article in the Journal of Sustainable Real Estate revealed that people are more productive in green buildings. Better building materials, improved ventilation, and more natural light make people happier and more positive about their living environment.
You’ll notice that the last two benefits attributed to green homes actually have nothing to do with the environment – they are what I call hidden benefits, because they are perhaps not obvious upon first glance.
All indications suggest that the green building sector is poised to take-off in the next few years. Plus technological innovations seem to be introduced nearly every month to make homes even more sustainable than they were previously (such as the Smart House). I’m positive about the direction home design is going, and I think more and more people will embrace green buildings when they see their hidden benefits.
Image CC licensed by Jeremy Levine Design: Sustainable Design – Passive Cooling