Earth Advantage Institute: Top 10 green building trends for 2011
As the market for more energy efficient homes grows, the Earth Advantage Institute has released its top 10 green building trends to watch for in the new year.
- Affordable Green: Green homes and features have typically been associated with higher costs, but they are increasingly within reach of more homebuyers.
- Sharing and Comparing Home Energy Use: Several websites and programs already let users track and share their home energy usage. And as social networking and purchasing becomes more popular, the trend is expected to follow suit.
- Outcome-Based Energy Codes: Current prescriptive energy codes don’t encourage effective retrofitting. An outcome-based strategy could allow owners to pursue the most effective retrofit solution.
- Community Purchasing Power: Neighborhoods and groups interested in increased efficiency can buy green products at significant discounts.
- “Grid-aware” Appliances: Manufacturers are designing more appliances that are “grid aware,” meaning they have sophisticated energy management capabilities and timers.
- Accessory Dwelling Units: Many people are choosing to build “accessory building units” (ADUs) rather than move. These ADUs, which can be used as an office, studio or living space, are ideal for energy savings and sustainable construction.
- Rethinking Residential Heating and Cooling: “Passive Homes,” which are ductless and furnace-less, are now a reality. And geothermal heating and cooling are becoming more popular.
- Residential Grey Water Use: Recycling grey water – any wastewater other than toilet water – is gaining traction, especially as certain regions face looming water shortages.
- Small Commercial Certification: Alternative energy certification programs are becoming more popular to encourage smaller commercial buildings to go green.
- Lifecycle Analysis (LCA): A new type of analysis will determine the impact of building materials over their lifetime, helping builders make more sustainable choices.