Big, luxury homebuilders are focusing on sustainability more than ever
by Megan Wild
Within the last 10 years, the demand for eco-friendly houses has soared. This is partly due to increased sensitivity to climate change among homebuyers and their awareness of global warming’s impact on wildlife and the environment. However, it is also a consequence of the fashion trend which points toward eco-friendly home designs. Because of this, more and more people buy into features like skylights and opt for energy saving appliances — these trends contribute to saving the planet while also resulting in less expensive energy bills for homeowners.
Naturally, where the trends go, shoppers such as homeowners and buyers follow. The number of big homebuilders for the luxury market has increased, and they are focusing on providing more sustainable homes. Below, we focus on what type of features they provide, who they look to attract, and examples of the builders who do this.
The Features in Demand
1. Maximizing Natural Light
People are more concerned than ever about using too much electrical energy through inefficient lighting in their homes. Therefore, energy saving bulbs and green light fixtures are certainly in demand.
However, what homeowners now start to realize is that maximizing natural light is the best way to reduce the need for electrically- powered light in the first place. Given interior design trends, skylights — and high-quality ones at that — are routinely requested from builders, so more and more homebuilding companies offer the service.
These tend to be classified as luxury features because of the focus on quality for the customers — energy efficiency, water tightness and sound reduction are all important factors to consider. Load and wind resistance are just as critical for many customers. Some contractors now even offer skylights made from sustainable materials to fulfill the demands of environmentally-conscious homeowners.
2. Insulation of Loft and Attic
This can be a daunting prospect for many homeowners, which perhaps explains why so many still need to insulate their lofts and attics. Alongside the worry of potential asbestos content in the roof, attic or loft, insulation requires skilled professionals who charge a premium rate.
Nevertheless, those in luxury homes are still interested in pursuing insulation — they take the trend toward loft conversions, extended attic views, and return on investment into consideration.
Better insulated lofts or attics will recoup the costs of the initial investment within two to three years through energy bills savings. After three years, homeowners will turn a profit on all the money saved through preventing unnecessary loss of heat.
3. Use of Recycled Materials
The market for using recycled materials and furniture is more buoyant than ever and continues to grow. Homeowners who are conscious of the environment and willing to participate in a circular economy are looking at alternative options when building, renovating or redecorating their homes.
As a result, large building companies are more aware of the importance of sourcing materials such as recycled glass, salvaged wood and metal, cork and bamboo flooring, and formaldehyde-free cabinets in the kitchen and bathroom.
The Market for Sustainable Homes
Sustainable homes — houses making effective use out of any natural resource available to them — can cut home energy bills by up to 30 percent. Given the popularity of the movement, big homebuilders should not miss a major opportunity to get a piece of this market.
In China, the Shanghai Tower stands tall, cited as one of the greatest and greenest towers in the world. In the UK, the Beacon is the world’s first emission-free project, boasting 17 floors of luxury flats, powered mainly by solar energy via PV panels. And then we see the rise of alternative housing options where houses themselves are made entirely out of eco-friendly materials.
Homebuilding companies such as Green Life implement sustainable building features including highly-efficient HVAC, and companies like Toll Brothers specialize in tankless water heaters. TRI Pointe Homes is geared toward offering green solutions to whatever problem you have, such as pest control, indoor air quality, or efficiency in water and electricity use.
Working to attract the luxury market with these sustainable amenities for luxury homes, homebuilding companies will only continue to accommodate sustainably-minded homeowners’ demands.
Megan Wild is a freelance writer that specializes in green construction. You can reach out to her on Twitter @Megan_Wild.