Building Sustainable Homes | Calling on Millennials

A collection of committed individuals introduced me to the basics of building sustainable homes. As a real estate professional I was immediately intrigued. My job is enabling people to make right choices for themselves in the process of buying and selling homes. The more I learned about sustainable building, the more convinced I became that this is the way of the future. The question: Why would it matter to someone who does not share my passion for real estate, homes, or sustainability in general?

Building Sustainable Homes | The Way of the Future

As we conversed, it was clear that the motivation behind their commitment to sustainable building is to leave a better world for their grandkids and for future generations. I feel compelled to encourage our audience to be receptive to building sustainable, high performance homes. It is not only the right thing; it is the smart thing as well.

I learned that residential construction practices have not progressed much since the 1950s. Most of the changes have been driven by the desire to build faster and spend as little as possible per square foot. Improved building codes have forced many improvements over the years, but a code compliant home is still a minimum passing grade. Homes designed and built today will generally have limited lifespans, and higher maintenance costs than necessary. We know how to build better. Building science, innovative building products and practices, and the importance of energy efficiency are moving us in the right direction, but building a sustainable, high performing home is still a rarity.

A high performance home will take advantage of what nature provides. Orientation to the sun, shading, and breezes are passive measures that can enhance performance. Air sealing, insulation, elimination of thermal bridges, and controlled ventilation can enable consistent temperatures, better indoor air quality, and dramatically lower energy usage. Attention to toxins in building materials, finishes, and fabrics is important to the health of occupants. Structured plumbing will significantly reduce water usage and energy required to provide hot water on demand. These sustainable choices provide a longer lasting, more comfortable, and healthier home for the homeowner. And, they are environmentally responsible for future generations.

Building Sustainable Homes

A stunning performance home by Rob Nicely, Carmel Building and Design

Building Sustainable Homes | Return on Investment

Saving the planet is a positive motivation and, all things being equal, most of us would invest a little more in responsible choices. Good news, this responsible choice is much better than equal. A high performing home is much more durable, will last decades longer, dramatically reduce energy and water bills, and cost significantly less to maintain. You control the amount of the unfiltered air and airborne pollutants that enter the home – a huge benefit for allergy sufferers – and you can nearly eliminate the need for dusting. You can enjoy the desired temperature downstairs, upstairs, and in every room. Many homeowners are pleasantly surprised by how quiet and peaceful it is when inside. The incremental investment for a sustainable, high performing home is generally 5-8%. Multiple studies show an increased value of 9% and a reduced time on market should you choose to sell.

Building Sustainable Homes

Open floor plan of a performance home by Rob Nicely, Carmel Building and Design

Building Sustainable Homes | Millennials

Millennials are a growing segment of the homebuyer demographic, and as a millennial, I wanted to help give this subject the exposure it deserves as a major part of our future and the future of our families down the road. If you are interested in learning more, this blog by Jay Gentry (link), one of the committed people who has been mentoring me on performance homes dives into the details. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Jay or The Heinrich Team, or leave a comment below.

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Written by Zach Brooksher and Jay Gentry