The housing industry's ongoing distress has not dampened the enthusiasm for energy-efficient, healthy, and environmentally sensitive homes. To the contrary, green home building has persevered during the housing downturn and is set for significant future growth. According to the Earth Advantage Institute (EAI), the nonprofit provider of the Earth Advantage New Homes green building program based in Portland, Ore., 10 trends will emerge in 2010, helping to drive interest and market acceptance of green building. residential architect and sister magazine CUSTOM HOMEboth have noted and covered many of these developing trends over the past two years.
The EAI's predictions for green building in 2010 are, in no specific order:
1. As utilities continue to develop a smarter energy grid, solutions that allow homeowners to track their real-time energy usage—in the form of home- and Web-based display panels or "dashboards"—will be developed and will help them make informed decisions about their energy usage and encourage them to modify their habits. Read more about the smart grid here, about energy management solutions here, and about the rising demand for energy-saving systems and solutions here.
2. Energy agencies and municipalities around the country may seek to mandate energy performance labeling for homes and other buildings that would be made publicly available through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), providing an easier method for comparing buildings and homes and possibly spurring owners to make energy improvements to increase resale value. Read more about the benefits of home energy labeling.
3. Use of building information modeling (BIM) software will proliferate among smaller firms and individual builders because BIM software developers are likely to begin offering more affordable small-business packages. Also, the addition of BIM tools that allow more precise energy modeling will continue to assist in accurately predicting building performance. Read more about BIM's promise in the residential design and building industries.
4. Mortgage lenders and insurance providers are getting on the green bandwagon by developing reduced-rate loan products and insurance packages in recognition of the lower financial risks that greener homes represent—i.e., homeowners who value and maintain their homes and who are stronger because of their homes' reduced operating costs.
5. Oversized homes are out, smaller "rightsized" homes are in for 2010, reflecting a switch from the bigger-is-better mentality to one that's more energy- and cost-conscious. Lower home values, rising energy prices, and an expected mid-year increase in interest rates by the Federal Reserve will keep homebuyers' square-footage ambitions in check. During the past two years, we have heard from many architects and builders around the country that their clients are expressing greater interest in smaller, more efficient homes. Read more about the "rightsizing" trend here, here, and here.