Eco-Friendly Building and Sustainable Design
Building Healthy and Low Impact Homes
Eco-Friendly Building and Sustainable Design: What does it really mean?
Eco-friendly building or green building promotes healthier living spaces, sustainable materials, and a preservation of the natural environment around the project site for starters. Healthy and low impact homes not only reduce the impact of homebuilding on the environment, but also reduce the toxins in our living spaces.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency:
“Green building is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction. This practice expands and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort. Green building is also known as a sustainable or high performance building.”
These eco-friendly buildings should take into account the following and more:
- Efficient & Renewable Energy
- Indoor Air Quality
- Non-Toxic Building Materials that are Ethically & Sustainably Sourced
- Water Quality & Efficient Use
- Reduction of Waste Materials
- Building Processes that Respect the Environment and Natural Landscape
Ecosystems and Biodiversity Are Protected
By lowering the impact on the environment over the lifetime of the building, ecosystems and biodiversity are protected.
Higher Quality of Life for Occupants
Eco-friendly building also takes into consideration the occupants of the building, and aims to provide a healthier, more comfortable interior that leads to a higher quality of life.
Better ventilation and lower concentrations of pollutants in indoor spaces have also been shown to increase productivity and better brain function.
Positive Economic Impact
These spaces are known to have the a positive economic impact, with higher property values, energy efficiency, and a thriving new market for sustainable building materials. For investors, sustainably designed properties can result in a higher sale price.
Residential and Commercial Spaces
Green building practices can be applied to any type of building, both residential and commercial.
LEED certification is provided by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), which is a non-profit organization. Using a point-based rating system that includes a silver, gold, or platinum ranking, buildings are evaluated based on how eco-friendly they are using their specific criteria.
LEED Certification is globally recognized and offers tax benefits. Government grants are awarded to many LEED certified eco-friendly buildings as well.
Greenovating, or green renovating, is the practice of renovating older homes to become more environmentally friendly.
Some important eco-friendly building considerations when renovating older homes include:
- Using locally sourced, recycled, and sustainably harvested materials
- Cnsidering the use of green roofs, cisterns, and low flow fixtures for rain water management and water conservation
Some ways to greenovate your property:
- Maximize natural lighting
- Install a green roof or cistern
- Use water and energy efficient fixtures and appliances
- Choose a design, materials, and equipment with long-term savings
Choose eco-friendly building materials based on source, composition, durability, and recyclability.
You can improve the quality of life for future occupants with natural lighting, cross ventilation and cleaner indoor air, low VOC paints and materials, easy to clean surfaces, energy efficient appliances, and highly functional spaces.
TIP: Many people choose CFL bulbs for energy efficiency, but did you know they contain a neurotoxin? CFL bulbs should always be handled with extra care. If broken they can be hazardous! When disposed of, they must be taken to a tox drop so they do not end up in a land fill or elsewhere in the environment.
Some benefits of Eco-Friendly Building for Real Estate Investors
Benefits to Flippers
- Attract More Buyers
- Sell for Higher Price
- Tax Credits
- Potential Grants
Benefits to Landlords
- Charge Higher Rents
- Attract More Tenants
- Reduce Vacancy Rates
- Tax Credits
- Potential Grants
- Kower Operating Costs
Beware of Greenwashing
Greenwashing is a term used to describe deceptive marketing used to lure consumers into purchasing products that claim to be eco-friendly. This term applies to all products, and not just falsely represented eco friendly building practices.
Since the industry is not well regulated, this practice can dupe shoppers into paying more for products that do not provide much, if any, environmental or health benefits. This practice has increased in recent years, and contributes to skepticism of the industry.