We found out how spending a little green, to go green now, can put more green in your wallet later.
BY: Sara Smola
The phrase “going green” is a hot buzzword these days, denoting a socially conscious revolution. But in addition to feeling warm and fuzzy about doing the right things for the environment, building homes that are green and having a certified green home adds real value —with green homes selling not only faster but also for more money than “non-green” homes. Even if you’re not interested in buying or selling, energy-efficient upgrades to your home provide countless benefits including the potential to pay for themselves over time—with the added bonus of doing your part to create a better environment for yourself and your family.
As the word about green home benefits (which can include lower energy bills and tax credits) spreads, the demand for green homes reaches across demographics. Baby Boomers and Millennials alike are clamoring to own a green home. “Both [age] groups are gravitating to this market,” says John Shipman, realtor and owner of American Green Home Real Estate. “And that’s the great thing about green homes; they offer something for everyone, from energy efficiency, to a healthier home, to lowered cost of living, to doing something great for the environment. Your home is so much more valuable when it’s green, and that’s a win-win for buyers and sellers.”
Shipman cites studies from UCLA and UC Berkley, as well as his own work in the San Gabriel Valley market, which confirm these economic models. “We have numerous case studies that show [homes selling] up to 10 to 12 percent over market and proven “green” techniques getting the home to appraise [at a higher level] even when there has been a lack of comparable properties on the market in a particular area,” says Shipman, adding “It’s great for the seller and for the buyer, because ultimately, the buyer is able to reduce their true cost of home ownership with a certified green or resource-efficient home.”
But beyond the increased savings and monetary value of your home, Roland Macias of imortgage, the leading energy-efficient mortgage lender in Southern California, has noticed another trend that leads buyers to seek out a green home. “The biggest appeal lies in the amazing comfort and improved healthier environment in these homes. Saving money, living a healthier life, and building value in your biggest investment, what could be better?” asks Macias.
With all the benefits a green home offers, it’s worth researching the type of green upgrades that make sense for your current property. And for those looking to sell, an official green certification will draw in the buyers. In order to formally qualify as a certified green home, a third-party certifying agency (such as Build It Green in California, or the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification program) needs to verify that the house meets a certain set of established criteria to ensure it’s truly environmentally sound. Shipman explains, “When people certify a home to be green, they are looking for a credible resource that can be trusted. In the built environment, code (the basic building standards any structure must comply with in order to be considered safe) is what everyone gets. Green is a choice to ask for more, which is better than code. [Going green is] a making a conscious, better choice for your own lifestyle, for your family, and for the environment.”
When making green improvements, enso² Building Solutions Building Analyst Joel Pereda recommends starting with the cornerstone of green: energy-efficient upgrades which include insulation, sealing air leaks, an efficient HVAC design and installation, replacing old appliances with E-Star, LED, or high-efficacy lighting, and renewable energy such as solar panels. “[Homeowners] should address indoor air quality by using low-VOC-finish products throughout the house, water-saving devices inside and outside the home, and conservation techniques such as recycling, effective building, and retrofit strategies with materials like Optimal Value Engineering when using lumber, or using things that promote using fewer resources like low embodied energy materials,” explains Pereda.
These energy-efficient improvements made to the home will not only add value to the house but also have the potential to pay for themselves over time. “There are tax credits from the federal government for solar home upgrades, and the statewide Advanced Home Upgrade program can yield grants and rebates and incentives,” says Macias. Macias recommends making that initial investment in order to reap the benefits, benefits that can yield as much as $10,000 per upgrade.
While researching on the Internet is a good place to start, contacting a green specialist will pay off in the long run by helping you identify and collect on the available incentives. “It is important to have a [green] team in place. If you don’t have a team, reach out to someone with experience in this field. Remember to use a green realtor, a green lender, and a green performance contractor,” emphasizes Pereda, who adds that along with energy upgrades, modifying your behavior to limit energy usage is truly abiding by the green movement. Pereda warns, “Don’t just think because you did the [upgrades], now you can be an energy hog!”