Green Production Homes: Easy as 1, 2, 3

Many of the nation’s production builders are learning how easy and profitable building green can be

The housing market is beginning to realize the value of going green as energy and water conservation become main concerns throughout the nation. Green is no longer just a luxury custom home feature or upgrade—we’re seeing production builders beginning to provide green as the standard for both single family and multi-family homes.

For instance, Lennar has managed to provide quality homes with green in mind. In what’s being referred to as the first “community-wide, ground-up residential solar program in Texas,” Colorado Crossing boasts solar as not merely an upgrade or option for homebuyers, but as a standard feature. Lennar is collaborating with SunStreet Energy Group to comprise more than 500 homes for the community, each with its own solar array.

Other green features Lennar includes as standard are: Upgraded double-pane Low-E windows, programmable, set-back thermostat, and HERS rating through a certified third-party energy rater.

The single family homes within the community, ranging from 1,230 to 2,402 square feet, will be priced from roughly $200,000 to $260,000. Which, according to Zillow, is slightly under the median single family home price in Austin ($285,000).

Similarly, Pardee Homes announced this summer that SolarCity will provide solar power in select communities. SolarCity has already installed more than 300 solar homes among 13 Pardee Homes communities in parts of California and Nevada.

Solar isn’t the only method to implement the green standard into homes. KB Home’s Primera Terra LEED Platinum multi-family project was honored by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) with a LEED for Homes award as the best in the Multi-Family category. The market rate condos are all at least 40 percent more energy-efficient than typical new homes. However, this noteworthy level of efficiency was achieved without incorporating a solar power system or other renewable energy resource. Alternatively, KB Home focused on optimizing the building envelope and incorporating features like a cool roof to keep homeowners’ monthly utility costs
to a minimum.

“KB Home’s Primera Terra should serve as an example to other builders that completing a LEED Platinum project does not have to mean a significant increase in construction costs,” said Nate Kredich, Vice President of Residential Market Development for USGBC. And at Peninsula Publishing, we express the same sentiment with our own ABC (Affordable, Buildable, Certified) Green Home brand of homes (1.0, 2.0, and 3.0), which, once completed, will all be LEED Platinum certified homes. Green Home Builder magazine, in partnership with KTGY and Danielian Associates’ designs, aim to demonstrate that building green is “Easy as ABC, 123.”

While many builders may believe going green to be costly and unaffordable, it has been reported that homebuyers are willing to pay more for green homes, according to a new study released last month by the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) and the District of Columbia’s Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE).

In the study, “What is Green Worth? Unveiling High-Performance Home Premiums in Washington, D.C.,” released by IMT and funded by the DOEE, it was revealed that high-performance homes marketed with green features sell for an average premium of 3.46 percent compared to those lacking green features.

“Not only do these homes mean lower monthly energy bills for homeowners, but our prior research has also found that homeowners of energy-efficient homes are 32 percent less likely to default on their mortgages,” said IMT Executive Director Cliff Majersik. “This study further emphasizes the value of high-performance homes and showcases that home sellers, realtors, and appraisers who are not factoring in energy efficiency when selling a home are leaving money on the table. This is important not just in the District of Columbia, but across the United States.”

Green is more than a method of building—it’s a lifestyle that today’s homeowners are seeking, and evidently willing to pay for.

“Customers are realizing at the end of the day [green] will save them money,” said Cecelia Bonifay, Chair of Landscape and Sustainable Practices at Akerman LLP. “Builders must be able to answer potential homebuyers’ biggest question: ‘What’s the average utilities cost per month?’.” With that question looming, everyone leaves money on the table—the housing industry and customers alike.

• Homeowners of energy-efficient homes are 32 percent less likely to default on their mortgages

• Lennar, Pardee Homes, and KB Home have proved to be leaders among green building

• Homebuyers are willing to pay for more for green homes

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