CenterPoint Home Energy Program
Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Is Natural Stone a "Green" Material?

Is Natural Stone a "Green" Material?

There has been a debate for years about whether or not natural stone slabs are "green". To understand the answer we must look at what it means for a product to be considered green. 

A sustainable or green product is manufactured by increasing the efficiency of natural resources such as energy, water, and material usage while reducing the impact on the environment during its life cycle. Increasing the efficiency of resources could be achieved in many ways.

Modern technology has made it possible to develop machinery that reduces the use of water or electricity with the same or increased production. Another example would be producing products that yield less waste.

The other necessary factor is reducing the impact on the environment during construction, use, and demolition.

According to the Marble Institute, natural stone is "Mother Nature's original green building material". Natural stone is durable and outlasts most other building materials. This is evident when looking at historical structures as far back as the Roman, Greek, and even Egyptian eras.

Today, natural stone slabs such as granite and marble are used for a vast array of building materials. Some of the most common types are counter tops, shower surrounds, flooring, exterior cladding, and interior wall tile.

Natural stone slabs are solid rock extracted directly from the earth in manageable sizes. There is little manufacturing involved in quarrying stone slabs. They are available in multiple types of stone include granite, marble, limestone, travertine, onyx, sandstone, and soapstone.

Each stone type has countless color options determined by the region of the world that they are found. Unlike man-made surfaces, natural stone slabs have no bonding agents such as a polymer resin.

In addition, they do not emit VOCs and are recommended to be cleaned with pH-neutral cleaners; not only improving the air quality, but reducing chemicals in our sewer and soil. Materials that can be utilized in their natural state such as granite and marble greatly reduce the impact on the environment.

Granite and marble slabs are extremely durable with the longevity to last longer than the life of the building. Since it is one of the hardest natural stones, granite is able to be salvaged, re-cut, and reused - closing the life cycle.

All natural stone slabs are 100% recyclable with endless ways to re-purpose the material. New ways to recycle stone are being developed every day.

A few examples are resizing the slabs into pavers and tiles, grinding it into chips to be bonded in engineered counter top surfaces, and even crushing it into rocks for landscaping.

The benefit of using granite and marble in these recycled products is that the stone is durable in any form.

Natural stone quarries are located all over the world, making it convenient to find a regional source within several hundred miles of most projects. Selecting a local stone is another way to reduce the impact on the environment by minimizing transportation effects.

The final factor that determines if natural stone is sustainable is the decisions made by the end user. Selecting a regional stone, cleaning it with earth-friendly products and being responsible about the demolition ensure the best possible outcome.


*Article submitted by Allied Stone. For more information, you can visit their website  www.alliedstoneinc.com

Thursday, October 02, 2014

What's in your water?

Know for Sure with DuPure

The DuPure range of filtered and purified drinking water solutions provides you with an endless supply of crystal clear, odorless, great-tasting water.The DuPure drinking water solutions have been independently tested and verified as the most effective way to remove harmful water-borne viruses, bacteria and a host of other contaminants that are delivered by your water authority. There’s a DuPure drinking water solution for every budget, from our Ultra Filter Single Stage product to the Ultra PurReverse Osmosis solution, delivering convenient, purified mountain spring quality water for a fraction of the cost of bottled water and without the waste. What's in Your Water? The EPA sets guidelines for what is permissible in drinking water at your home. However, these guidelines allow for traces of microorganisms,disinfectants, inorganic chemicals, organic chemicals and more. Chemicals such as Chlorine and Chloramine are added by your water authority to remove contaminants during the treatment process Fluoride is often added to the water delivered to your home. Minerals and other “permissible” elements in your tap water can give off an odor, taste metallic and make your drinking water appear cloudy.You use water every day for drinking and cooking. A constant supply of clean, fresh, healthy water will improve the taste of coffee, tea, pastas, salads and vegetables. Plus, it’s the healthy choice for your family, pets and plants around your home. Your builder has chosen DuPure to provide your new home with water filtration solutions. That’s because our advanced filtration systems remove the majority of the chemicals, minerals and potentially harmful contaminants in your drinking water. Protect Your Investment Congratulations, you've just purchased your dream home. Everything is new, sparkling and fresh. To keep it looking that way you must treat your water so that the minerals in your water supply do not leach in to your natural stone counters, spot your chrome faucets, damage appliances, clog water pipes and irreparably damage your water heater. Protect your investment with a affordable, comprehensive, whole-home water treatment solution from DuPure.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Unscrambling Energy Efficiency Lingo

(NAHB Now) – Terminology related to energy-efficient homes can make anyone feel lost without an industry translator by their side. The following definitions should give you a better understanding of four of the most common energy-efficient home terminologies:

Energy-efficient home (n.): a home that uses less energy than a traditional home without compromising service to home owners and occupants.

Energy efficiency can be achieved through things such as improved thermal envelopes, solar-oriented construction, low-e windows and efficient appliances. Note that energy efficiency and energy conservation are different in that conservation efforts reduce or eliminate services to save energy. Read more about what it means to be energy efficient from Brighton Homes, a 2014 EnergyStar Partner of the Year.

(Net) Zero energy home (n.): a home in which energy production and consumption are equivalent.

Energy production, perhaps most commonly addressed through home solar panel installation, must be equal to the family's needs. To help achieve net zero energy, the home should be designed using a holistic, whole-house approach that strives for efficiency and reduces energy consumption without sacrificing service or comfort. To see examplesof zero energy homes, take a look at Kaupuni Village in Hawaii.

(Net) Zero energy-ready home (n): a home that is outfitted with the necessary structural, technological support to install energy producing technologies.

Net zero energy-ready homes are appropriate for home owners who plan to install energy producing technology in the future but do not have the means or goal to do so at the present time; however, when it comes time to install such technology, the home just needs to be, almost literally, plugged in to harness the produced energy. Take a look at this San Marcos, Calif. home by KB Home.

(Net) Positive energy home (n.): a home that produces a surplus of energy that is superfluous for the operation of the home.

These are homes that can receive credit for the excess energy returned to the grid that is produced by the energy technologies and saved by energy-efficiency measures. To read more about a built net positive energy home, see the Mission Zero House by Matt and Kelly Grocoff.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Homes Are Getting Greener

There's a lot of potential for improving the energy efficiency of the existing housing stock.

(US News & World Report) - A promising trend in home construction is the rising number of certified green and energy efficient homes. Recent consumer preference surveys indicate that energy-efficient features top homebuyer wish lists. While newly built homes increasingly include such elements, there remains significant market potential for the remodeling sector to improve the existing housing stock.

Industry surveys, such as a 2013 McGraw Hill Construction study of green building by National Association of Home Builders members, detail the degree to which green building practices and products are being deployed in the home building sector. The survey found that 62 percent of single-family builders and 54 percent of multifamily developers were completing at least 15 percent of their projects as green (meaning achieving the requirements specified by a recognized green building standard or equivalent). And the study also found that 19 percent of single-family builders built more than 90 percent of their homes as green.

While conservation features for homes have received a lot of attention in recent years, another growing trend is the installation of power production elements. For example, the McGraw Hill data reveal that 12 percent of single-family builders reported installing solar photovoltaic panels in some of their homes. Even more popular in 2013 was the inclusion of geothermal heat pumps, which provide heating and/or cooling using the earth as a heat source in the winter and a heat sink in the summer. The data indicate 26 percent of single-family builders are installing heat pumps in some of their homes.

To be sure, the limiting factor for builders incorporating green building practices is cost. The McGraw-Hill survey found that the increased cost necessary to construct a green home was, on average, about 8 percent of total development costs in 2013. This is lower than in earlier surveyed years (11 percent in 2006 and 10 percent in 2008) suggesting that costs may fall over time as experience with green building practices and products grows. This appears to be case for individual developers. For example, the survey found that single-family builders who reported at least 30 percent of their construction as green cited their incremental cost as 5.7 percent on average. Nonetheless, the issue of cost is a key concern for housing and emphasizes the importance of letting consumers determine what features to include in a home.

Of course, for homebuyers to select a more energy efficient and green home they need to be aware of how a home performs. Among single-family builders, the National Green Building Standard (NGBS) is the most commonly used green building certification. The GHBA’s Green Built Gulf Coast program adheres to this standard and has certified more than 11,000 homes since it’s adoption of the program in 2010. Consumers can rely on such certifications to know a given home meets an approved set of standards. For more information on Builders and Vendors who build and sell green products, visit our Green Built Gulf Coast website at www.greenbuiltgulfcoast.org.

While newly built residences are increasingly energy efficient, the existing housing stock is the untapped low-hanging fruit in terms of future activity with respect to conservation and other green building practices. For example, Department of Energy data indicate that homes built during the 2000s use on average 37,100 British Thermal Units per square foot annually. Homes from the 1980s use more – 43,500 BTUs annually. Homes built prior to 1940 (15 percent of the nation’s housing stock) use on average 51,600 BTUs annually per square foot.

Improving the quality of the more than 114 million renter and owner-occupied housing units built before the year 2000 remains an important objective and business opportunity for remodelers and developers. Certification for whole-house remodeling exists, which is an opportunity for existing homeowners to keep in mind as they consider differentiating their home when it comes time to sell.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

For a High-Performing Business, Focus on High-Performance Homes

(NAHB) - Who hasn’t wished for a peek into the future to help determine the best business strategy going forward as the market strengthens?

Lacking magical skills, the next best thing is a carefully constructed market analysis with practical – and achievable – recommendations for taking best advantage of emerging trends to provide the products that will appeal most to consumers.

That’s just what McGraw Hill delivered in its recent Smart Market Report, Green Multifamily and Single Family Homes: Growth in a Recovering Market.

A detailed analysis of green building practices among single-family and multifamily builders and remodelers, the report is based on a nationwide survey primarily of NAHB members that was conducted last fall.

In addition to analyzing various aspects of green building such as determining which products builders find most effective, the analysis provides recommendations for those who are looking to capitalize on growing buyer interest in higher performing homes and solidify their presence in the market.

For single-family builders, the report recommends creating a strategy to deal with consumers’ increasing expectations for green homes. Because the market is rapidly evolving toward higher performance homes, such a strategy is especially important for builders re-entering the market who didn’t hone an approach to green building during the Great Recession.

Single-family builders should also prepare to accommodate the preferences of Generation Y, 20-somethings on the cusp of homeownership who believe environmental concerns are very important and will want their homes to reflect that belief.

Multifamily builders, the report says, will need to sharpen their green skills to stay competitive and they will need to accommodate increasing expectations that high-end units will also be green.

Multifamily also offers considerable opportunity for remodelers, the report notes. As new green units come on line, existing multifamily will need to be updated to stay competitive.

The report also offers advice for building product manufacturers and suppliers. Most important in both the single-family and multifamily sectors is to emphasize the combination of energy performance and affordability.

Suppliers are also cautioned to be prepared to deal with a diverse set of customers: both highly experienced and inexperienced green builders in the single-family market.

For multifamily, the advice to product manufacturers and suppliers is different: Emphasize sustainability and how your products can differentiate builders in the multifamily market.

Green Multifamily and Single-Family Homes: Growth in a Recovering Market was published by McGraw Hill Construction in partnership with NAHB, with the support of Menck Windows and Waste Management. View the full report here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Green Homes Show Growth in a Recovering Market According to New Report from McGraw Hill Construction

Residential construction is a key engine behind economic growth in the United States. According to McGraw Hill Construction’s Dodge Construction Market Forecast, single and multifamily housing projects account for about 45% of the value of all construction projects started in theUnited States in 2014. With that market forecasted to grow rapidly in coming years, the green activity and drivers in the market are critical. The new SmartMarket Report of the single and multifamily builder and remodeler community released today by McGraw Hill Construction (http://www.construction.com/) contains this critical intelligence.

The report, “Green Multifamily & Single Family Homes: Growth in a Recovering Market,” surveys builder and remodeler members of the National Association of Home Builders and reveals the evolution of green building for single family homes from boom to bust to recovery through comparisons with previous studies from 2006 to 2011, and includes new data on multifamily housing to provide a comprehensive review of the sector.

According to the latest study:

  • 62% of firms building new single family homes report that they are doing more than 15% of their projects green. By 2018, 84% of them expect this level of green activity.
  • 54% of firms building new multifamily projects report that they are doing more than 15% of their projects green. There is also growth expected—with 79% reporting the same level of activity anticipated by 2018.
  • In the single family market, the most striking shift is in those firms dedicated to green building (doing more than 90% of their projects green). That percentage is already at 19%, and by 2018, it is expected to double (to 38%).

The study finds that builders and remodelers in both the single family and multifamily sectors report that the market is recognizing the value of green: 73% of single family builders (up from 61% since the last report) and 68% of multifamily builders say consumers will pay more for green homes.

“Greater consumer interest in green homes has contributed to the ongoing growth, leading us to anticipate that by 2016, the green single family housing market alone will represent approximately 26% to 33% of the market, translating to an $80 billion to $101 billion opportunity based on current forecasts. The findings also suggest that lenders and appraisers may be starting to recognize the value of green homes, making it a factor that could help encourage the market to grow if there is more widespread awareness across the U.S.,” said Harvey Bernstein, vice president, Industry Insights and Alliances for McGraw Hill Construction.

The study also examines the triggers for green building activity. “This new study demonstrates phenomenal growth in green building, with more builders engaging in sustainable building practices than ever before,” said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del. “While growth in green in the single family market is driven more by high quality and customer demand, the multifamily market is more driven by cost factors such as the availability of government or utility incentives, as well as enhancing their competitive position and corporate image. All are compelling reasons for the industry to engage with this continuously growing market.”

The SmartMarket Report also reveals a vigorous and growing renewables market in the residential sector. 65% of the respondents – both single family and multifamily – currently use renewables on at least some of their projects, and the percentage that incorporate them in all of their projects is expected to grow from 8% in 2013 to 20% by 2016.

“Green Multifamily &Single Family Homes: Growth in a Recovering Market” was produced by McGraw Hill Construction in partnership with the NationalAssociation of Home Builders, with the support of Waste Management and Menck Windows. View the full report here.

Monday, June 02, 2014

LED Lighting: What You Need to Know Now

LEDs are energy-efficient, maintenance-free, and builder-friendly.

The use of LED is going to change the way your customers think about lighting. Unlike traditional methods, there is a higher initial cost to LED, but a lower lifetime cost after installation. The reasons to select LED lighting are myriad. First of all, there is the energy-saving aspect. Fossil fuels, like all natural resources, are a finite commodity. There is only so much available. Second, the country’s population is increasing. Areas that had been sparsely populated are now among the fastest-growing cities in the nation. Power lines, sub-stations, and all other electric infrastructure are deteriorating, and energy suppliers are expecting the repair and replacement to cost billions of dollars. Building new power plants would be both incredibly costly and time-consuming.

No one unplugs their microwave oven or TV when they leave the house, right? All of today’s modern devices use energy—and we have more electronic products than ever before. Now consider that the building laws in California and Washington State are mandating energy efficiency and that many utilities are offering consumers and businesses incentives to conserve. Yet, even with all of this overwhelming information and pressure, much of America has not yet embraced the green movement despite the rapid increases in energy costs. A recent survey of homeowners revealed that 33 percent of respondents are concerned about energy efficiency, but they do not want to pay for it at the time of new construction, which is the least expensive time to make efficient changes and improvements.

According to the Energy Information Administration, Americans spend roughly one-quarter of their electricity on lighting (an overall cost of more than $37 billion annually). The light bulbs currently in use in most homes consume a large amount of electricity. To achieve the mandated efficacy, we must move away from that architecture and into fluorescent, hybrid incandescent, and LED light sources. Over the years, there has been an assortment of lighting methods, each improving on the previous technology. Today, LEDs are delivering the highest efficiency of any light source currently available. In addition to improvements in lumen output, new LED light sources are providing better life cycles. In fact, experts in the LED field do not expect LED to plateau until it reaches 200 to 225 lumens per watt. That will make LED two to four times more efficient than the best fluorescent lamping on the market right now. In addition, LEDs’ selling points include: long life, durability, high efficacy/low energy use, compact size, no UV issues, LED chips do not suffer from catastrophic failure, and after 40,000 hours of use, the light output is measured at 70 percent of the original output. It will continue to operate at a lower lumen output for an extended period of time.

Know What You’re Getting

It is important to consider the whole LED system when discussing and comparing life span. In a typical LED system, the chips may be the strongest part. If the circuitry and other components are not designed to last 40,000 hours, what good is an LED chip that will? Therefore, it is vital to assess all of the elements of a lighting fixture when evaluating longevity. If all of the LED components were placed into an exterior cardboard lighting fixture, what would fail first? The cardboard, of course. Remember that the LED is a part of a whole luminaire, so seeking out a viable luminaire manufacturer is paramount.

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) tests lighting fixtures at 25ºC (77ºF). This is typically adequate for most interior ambient temperatures, but exterior lighting is different. In desert climates, temperatures regularly go beyond 77ºF at night. In those applications, it is important to ask the supplier if they have met UL requirements or if they have gone beyond and designed the system to 40ºC (104ºF). If cooler ambient temperatures are used, this will negatively impact life. Heat is the enemy of an LED system!

Finding a reliable manufacturer is critical. Since there are many ways to measure LED life, there are also many ways to present results that might be half-truths. Be careful. Let professional lighting consultants help you select reputable manufacturers that will provide honest data and results.

Understand the Benefits

LEDs have unique characteristics that can make them the best choice for an installation. For example, because they do not have filament to dislocate (unlike an incandescent), LEDs are nearly impervious to vibration. And unlike fluorescent, a precocious child can flick an LED light on and off continuously and it will not affect performance or lifespan. LEDs operate reliably in cold environments and can operate well in hot with proper fixture design.

Buy Now, Don’t Wait

Think about LED in the same way you think about computer chips. If you had waited to buy a computer until the best processor chip was available, you never would have purchased a computer over the last 20 years. LEDs are constantly getting better. They are already very good now—with many hours and dollars of savings available. Yes, they will get incrementally better over time, but they are already at a very efficient level. It's time to take LED technology seriously. Another benefit of LED chips is the small size, allowing them to be used in locations that would be impossible with old incandescent and fluorescent technology. Most importantly, remember that LED chips are not like other light sources. Because they emit and create light in a different way, they need to be treated differently from incandescent.

In some cases, you might be better using an incandescent or fluorescent fixture instead of an LED fixture that was not designed properly.

Color Is Key

You might have heard about color temperature and immediately think of fluorescent and LED lighting as being too “blue” or “cool” to look natural. The Color Rendering Index (CRI) refers to the way that light interprets color. It is measured on a scale of 1 to 100, with 100 being the top score. The color of light is referred to as “temperature” and is measured in Kelvin (K). The regular incandescent light bulbs we are used to are between 2600K and 3100K. If we want our fluorescent or LED lighting to appear the same color as incandescent, then select those which deliver a 2700 to 3000 Kelvin color. With incandescent lighting, we never really had to consider the color of light. As we begin to use a larger amount of fluorescent and LED light, we must, in turn, understand the color of light and communicate that information to consumers. This information is the most important and most valuable as we transition away from incandescent light sources.

Lumens = Brightness

A lot of consumers are mistakenly under the impression that wattage means energy consumed. Brightness is actually measured in lumens, not watts. For example, a 60-watt incandescent lamp and a 13-watt compact fluorescent can each emit 800 lumens, regardless of the number of watts.

Another aspect to take note of is optics. Pay attention to LED manufacturers that tout optic quality because it will make a huge difference in the light output.

Special Dimmers Needed

Unlike most lighting, developing good electronics is key to good LED. This also means that LED lighting fixtures are more complex than their incandescent counterparts. That complexity results in the higher price we pay for LED. Another important thing to keep in mind is that LEDs are run on DC power. Therefore, precise control of voltage/ current is needed to optimize LED life. Dimming an LED system requires a compatible dimmer; many LEDs will not work with existing, conventional dimmers that are used with incandescent lights.

Calculating the Bottom Line

At first blush, the cost of using LED lighting is more expensive than incandescent. However, to truly evaluate the benefits of LED, it is important to look at the total cost, including electricity and replacement lamps.

There is another factor to consider that has nothing to do with cost. Because LED is a different type of light source from what we’re used to, there is not yet the same type of consistency. The light provided by different manufacturers can be different, so checking light output is now vitally important. Some fixtures may not deliver adequate amounts of light, even though they appear to be exactly the same. Remember, not all LEDs are created equal. Your local lighting showroom is staffed with experts who can help you select the best LED light sources for your homes. LEDs will prove to be most energy-efficient, “green,” and ultimately cost-effective choice for builders and homeowners; it’s just a matter of adjusting to this new light source’s parameters. Offering LED fixtures is a new tool for adding value to today’s homes.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Article by Richard Alan, Richard Alan & Associates, LLC. Richard attained the coveted CLMR (Certified Lighting Manufacturer’s Representative) status from the American Lighting Association (ALA). He also sits on the Board of Trustees for the Educational Foundation for the ALA. Richard received the ARTS Sales Rep of the Year Award in 2011 and 2013 and was awarded the prestigious Pillar of the Industry Award for the ALA. Find out more at www.richardalanandassociates.com and www.thelightshowonline.com.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

NAHB Remodelers Reveals the Most Popular Features to Improve the Performance of Your Home

According to a new National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Remodelers survey, high-performing, Low-emissive (Low-E) windows are the most common green building products used by residential remodelers. To kick off National Home Remodeling Month in May, NAHB released the survey results, which highlight the most common building features that home owners are using to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

“The improved availability and affordability of high-performing building products means energy-efficient features are being incorporated into more home improvement projects,” said NAHB Remodelers Chair Paul Sullivan, CAPS, CGR, CGP, of Waterville Valley, N.H. “Remodeling can not only improve the overall layout and features of a home, but depending on the upgrades you choose, you can also save money on utilities, improve indoor air quality and strengthen the long-term value of your home.”

The most popular green building features in the survey of residential remodelers in the first quarter of 2014 are:

  • High performance windows including Low-E and Argon gas windows
  • High efficiency HVAC systems
  • Programmable thermostats
  • ENERGY STAR appliances

Other popular features include ceiling fans, moisture control products such as bathroom fans, water conserving fixtures and high performance insulation.

The usage of technology to improve a home’s performance has increased dramatically during recent years. Seventy percent of remodelers said they used programmable thermostats, an increase from 42 percent in 2011. Sixty-two percent of remodelers used ceiling fans in their remodels, compared to 37 percent in 2011.

Over the next five years, the percentage of remodelers who expect to be doing more than 60 percent of their projects green will double, according to the McGraw Hill Construction green building study in conjunction with NAHB.

“The lower operating and maintenance costs of energy-efficient homes are a compelling reason for more home owners to incorporate green features in their remodeling designs,” said Sullivan. “A professional remodeler can help maximize the benefits of including these features in a remodel. The survey results provide useful examples of ways to increase a home’s efficiency, decrease costs and take advantage of the other benefits that high performance green homes offer.”

For more information about remodeling during National Home Remodeling Month in May and year-round, visit www.nahb.org/remodel.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Green Home Building Continues to Climb, Valued at $36 Billion in 2013

McGraw Hill Construction, a part of McGraw Hill Financial (NYSE: MHFI), today released findings from a new Green Home Builders and Remodelers Study at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) International Builders' Show in Las Vegas. Green homes comprised 23% of the overall residential construction market in 2013 and are expected to grow to between 26% and 33% of the market by 2016. This equates to a doubling in the value of green home construction over three years, growing from $36 billion in 2013 to $83-$105 billion in 2016, based on the current McGraw Hill Construction forecast for total residential construction.

According to McGraw Hill Construction research dating back to 2006, the green home building market most rapidly accelerated during the housing downturn when builders experienced in green remained in business at higher proportions than those not knowledgeable about energy-efficient and green home building. As the residential market improves, indications are that the residential market is becoming bifurcated, with green builders accelerating the depth of their green work, and new or returned entrants into the market focusing on traditional construction practices.

"Green experience was a significant part of what kept builders in business during the recession," said Harvey M. Bernstein, VP of Industry Insights and Alliances, McGraw Hill Construction, "and now, those same firms are embracing the competitive advantage they earned by deepening their delivery of energy-efficient and green homes. We also see firms reentering the market that are using traditional home building practices versus green practices because that's what they know. However, the broader availability of green building products and practices, a more educated consumer and an increase in activity at the regulatory level will also encourage this group of builders to learn green practices over time."

The study shows that the top drivers to increased green home building activity include changes in codes and regulations, better quality, wider availability and affordability of green products, energy costs, and competitive advantage.

The green home building study, produced by McGraw Hill Construction in conjunction with the NAHB, is the fourth in a series that dates back to 2006. It was designed to provide key insights into market opportunities, backed by proprietary research surveys and the power of the Dodge database. The study reveals business benefits afforded by green building:

  • Competitive marketing advantage: 51% of builders and remodelers find that it is easier to market green homes, up from 46% in 2012 and 40% in 2008.
  • Customer willingness to pay for green features:
    • a. 68% of builders (up from 61% in 2011) report their customers will pay more for green, with 23% reporting that their customer will pay more than 5%
    • b. 84% of remodelers report the same (up from 66% in 2011), with 55% reporting their customers will pay more than 5% for green features.

"This study shows that more and more builders are incorporating environmentally sensitive and energy and resource efficient techniques into traditional home building practices, and we expect to see even stronger growth in the coming years," said Matt Belcher Co-Chair of NAHB's Energy & Green Building Subcommittee and a Builder from Wildwood, MO. "Green building expertise provided builders and remodelers with a competitive advantage during the housing downturn, and now as the market continues to recover, NAHB members stand ready to meet the increased demand."

In 2013, 16% of builders were dedicated to green building with more than 90% of their projects green, and another 20% were highly invested in green activity with 61% to 90% of their projects green. By 2015, that is expected to increase, with 20% of builders expecting to be exclusively working on green buildings, and 24% doing 61% to 90% green work. Remodelers are also increasing their attention to green work, with 16% reporting more than 60% of their projects are green today, expected to grow to 23% doing this amount of green remodeling in 2015 and 32% by 2018.

This spring McGraw Hill Construction will publish its 4th SmartMarket Report on the green home building marketplace, which will include these findings with additional analysis and new market research data on the trends of the multifamily builder. In the meantime, key findings from the study can be found here.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Remodeling with Green Products

NAHB Remodelers Reveals the Most Popular Features to Improve the Performance of Your Home

According to a new National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Remodelers survey, high-performing, Low-emissive (Low-E) windows are the most common green building products used by residential remodelers. To kick off National Home Remodeling Month in May, NAHB released the survey results, which highlight the most common building features that home owners are using to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

“The improved availability and affordability of high-performing building products means energy-efficient features are being incorporated into more home improvement projects,” said NAHB Remodelers Chair Paul Sullivan, CAPS, CGR, CGP, of Waterville Valley, N.H. “Remodeling can not only improve the overall layout and features of a home, but depending on the upgrades you choose, you can also save money on utilities, improve indoor air quality and strengthen the long-term value of your home.”

The most popular green building features in the survey of residential remodelers in the first quarter of 2014 are:

• High performance windows including Low-E and Argon gas windows
• High efficiency HVAC systems
• Programmable thermostats
• ENERGY STAR appliances

Other popular features include ceiling fans, moisture control products such as bathroom fans, water conserving fixtures and high performance insulation.

The usage of technology to improve a home’s performance has increased dramatically during recent years. Seventy percent of remodelers said they used programmable thermostats, an increase from 42 percent in 2011. Sixty-two percent of remodelers used ceiling fans in their remodels, compared to 37 percent in 2011.

Over the next five years, the percentage of remodelers who expect to be doing more than 60 percent of their projects green will double, according to the McGraw Hill Construction green building study in conjunction with NAHB.

“The lower operating and maintenance costs of energy-efficient homes are a compelling reason for more home owners to incorporate green features in their remodeling designs,” said Sullivan. “A professional remodeler can help maximize the benefits of including these features in a remodel. The survey results provide useful examples of ways to increase a home’s efficiency, decrease costs and take advantage of the other benefits that high performance green homes offer.”

For more information about remodeling during National Home Remodeling Month in May and year-round, visitwww.nahb.org/remodel.