What to look for when considering sustainable housing

The quest for green is good. That’s not an endorsement for seeking money or the perfect lawn. Instead, this quest for green reflects a growing desire to live in a more sustainable world on a grand scale — and in a more sustainable home on a smaller scale. As more people demand energy conservation and efficiency, homebuilders have struggled to catch up. But here are the latest green housing trends to have emerged in the past few years.

1. Tiny Homes

If you want to use less power, live in a smaller place. Homes are considered to be tiny if they’re less than 500 square feet. Compare that to 2,500 square feet, the average size of new American homes. Living in a tiny home is a lifestyle choice, one that forces you to do more with less. But note that financing for these homes are limited, making mortgages difficult, if not impossible, to get.

2. Recycled Homes

Some people brag that they can recycle anything, but homes? The idea is that your house is built entirely of recycled material, using glass bottles, aluminum cans, shipping containers or wooden pallets. If it served one purpose, it can often serve another, as some homebuilders have discovered.

3. Green Roofs

Green housing trends like this have actually been around for centuries, but now they’re using new technology. Extensive green roofs have thin layers and require little maintenance. Not only do they cool your house during the summer, but they also support local wildlife.

4. Solar Energy Systems

Solar power has come a long way, from expensive panels to thin, transparent window coverings (in development). While it’s not yet perfect, one company, SunPower Corporation, makes solar cells with a record 23.4 percent efficiency. The hottest of the green housing trends (excuse the pun), this offers tremendous promise.

5. Better Building Design

Let’s face it, houses built in the past century or two considered energy use a non-item, not even worth talking about. As society has experienced energy shortages and limitations, houses now include passive architecture that uses the sun and the earth to keep houses warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Naturally.

6. Energy Efficiency Improvements

This is among the most successful of the green housing trends. Energy Star, a program started in 1992, has saved consumers more than $350 billion and prevented about 2.5 tons of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere. Look for greater improvements in the future.

More Green Housing Trends

When you a re looking for a house that may save you money and energy, consider these green housing questions:

  • Is the home’s insulation new and efficient?
  • Does the house use whatever natural light is available?
  • How much mowing, trimming and powered yard work will the landscaping require?
  • Is there room for a garden and a place to compost?
  • Can you capture and reuse rainwater?
  • Is the house near amenities, such as grocery stores, public transportation, parks, and other things you’ll need?

Green housing trends will continue to move society from wasteful practices to sustainability. If you demand practical solutions when looking for a new home, you can drive the pace of change.

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