It’s no surprise then that there’s increased importance being placed on conscious living and environmental sustainability in the real estate market today. It’s no longer a fad to go green. In fact, a whopping 81% of consumers surveyed by Nielson in a worldwide study feel environmental improvement should be a top priority for companies.
Even if government regulations aren’t dictating high-level efficiencies be maintained in the housing industry, the real estate market is evolving to meet homebuyer and renter demands for built-in features that reduce their carbon footprint and improve their quality of life.
So, if you’re a homeowner and considering home improvement projects that will add value to your property, you’ll want to focus on sustainable features that Millennials and Gen Z buyers will expect. By being socially responsible and taking on projects that improve energy efficiency and air quality, conserve or reduce resource usage, or include repurposed products, you’ll be a good citizen and a vehicle for positive change.
Start with simple projects like:
- Switch incandescent light bulbs to energy-efficient CFLs, LEDs or update your light fixtures to accommodate them. Not only do these new bulbs last 3-25 times longer than the traditional bulbs, but you can also reduce your hydro usage by as much as 25% to 80% and save money.
- Repaint your interior walls with eco-friendly paint products that have no VOC emissions. This will freshen the appearance as well as improve the air quality.
- Seal air leaks by caulking all exterior windows and doors, install weather-stripping or door sweeps. This will help make your home more comfortable by reducing drafts and saving on heating and cooling bills.
Or kick things up with more extensive projects like:
- Install new energy-efficient windows. Make sure they’re double- or triple-pane and add features like Lo-E glass coatings and Argon/Krypton gas-filled. Not only will you achieve the ultimate in comfort and utility savings, but you’ll be saving your furniture, flooring and accessories from fading due to UV rays. You’ll be further helping the planet as you won’t need to replace those items as often.
- Next, you’ll want to upgrade your HVAC to high-tech, energy-efficient units. Don’t forget to include a Smart, programmable thermostat system that can be adjusted with a smartphone app. Convenient and money-saving.
- Purchase energy-efficient appliances with Energy Star certification to ensure built-in savings.
- According to Energy Star Canada, a tankless water heater uses 30% less energy than your traditional storage tank style. By upgrading to a tankless system you’ll be reducing energy use, saving water, helping your utility budget, and ultimately reducing your carbon footprint.
- Increase insulation in your attic to the equivalent of R-30. Use loose-fill or batt insulation in attic areas and blown-in insulation in walls to keep your home comfortable year-round.
- Replace carpeting with natural hardwood or bamboo flooring to reduce off-gassing and allergens. Expect your new flooring to require less maintenance and to last decades vs. 5 to 10 years for carpeting.
- Install low-flow plumbing fixtures to conserve water, save on energy costs and leave the planet a little better than when we found it.
- Add renewable energy sources like solar panels to your home and take advantage of the free energy from the sun. Create enough energy and you may even watch your hydrometer run backwards. Check your local municipality for money-saving rebates that may be available on photovoltaic panels or arrays.
What is the Real Estate Market Doing?
Real estate companies throughout Canada are becoming more proactive and responsive to consumer demands for environmentally conscious properties. More agents are actively encouraging homeowners to include socially responsible upgrades that conserve energy – either active or passive.
As younger generations enter the home-buying and rental markets, they’ll be looking for green features and built-in sustainability. Real estate professionals are guiding real estate investors to consider this new demographic when upgrading or new construction. Those properties that incorporate green features will stand out and achieve the highest return on investment.
What are the Benefits of Going Green?
Using eco-friendly products in home improvements can reduce the cost of daily living. Lower maintenance requirements are achieved with natural products. You home will maintain a consistent temperature in all seasons making it more comfortable. You’ll gain better air quality and better health with less incidence of respiratory issues. There is less waste with recycled or re-purposed products giving them a longer life. Overall, you’ll be able to reduce expenses related to utility bills, replacing worn-out products, and gain higher property value when selling.
Sustainability in Real Estate
There’s no question that protecting the environment is a key consideration for people across the world. As society becomes more eco-conscious, homes, apartments, condominiums and even workplace environments will need to include sustainable features.
While energy-efficient products often cost more upfront, most Millennials are willing to pay extra for items and services that positively impact the environment. Realtors are beginning to understand what drives younger buyers and are aligning with organizations that have formal sustainability initiatives in place. By working with groups like the National Association of Homebuilders, Energy Star, and even local municipalities, prominent real estate companies can help drive the industry as a whole to be more proactive in encouraging change and save the planet for future generations to enjoy for years to come.