The Earth Advantage Institute (EAI) is a nonprofit that helps builders and architects get their projects certified through a variety of programs such as LEED for Homes and Energy Star, as well as their own certification programs for high-performance new homes, remodels, communities, and commercial buildings. In addition to guiding people through certification, the EAI offers advanced education courses in green building technologies and strategies. The group also conducts building science research including an annual survey on what sustainable home building themes will be most prevalent in the upcoming year.  Below are the 10 most popular green building trends for 2012, according to the EAI. 

  1. Urban Density
    Like many other housing market pundits, the EAI thinks building houses on urban infill lots will become even more popular. According to its market research, young families and empty-nesters alike enjoy being within walking distance to shops, restaurants, entertainment, and public transportation.

  2. Green Multifamily
    With causes similar to the urban infill trend, demand for sustainable multifamily buildings also is on the rise.

  3. Energy Upgrades Driving Home Remodels
    Many home builders added remodeling services to their offerings during the downturn, and energy efficiency upgrades or energy audits have become major incentives for homeowners to renovate. The EAI sees that tendency getting more popular in the coming year.

  4. Testing of New Materials and Technologies
    Builders and architects want to use new green products but need to know they live up to their claims. The EAI notes that many more institutions like universities and government organizations are partnering with industry pros to try out new technologies and materials. 

  5. User-Friendly Home Energy Monitoring
    Auto-sensing energy and water monitoring devices that are simple for homeowners to use and helpful in detecting ways to reduce costs are becoming more common. The EAI reports that even more manufacturers are planning to introduce such products this year. 

  6. Energy Education for Occupants
    More cities are adopting green building codes and requiring energy use reports from commercial buildings. Inhabitant behavior can go a long way toward reducing resource use and energy costs.

  7. Transparency in Home Marketing
    Home buyers have more information at their fingertips and are more likely to trust builders, architects, and real estate agents who explain how green, healthy, energy-conserving homes benefit them.

  8. More Accurate Appraisal System
    The lending community seems to be embracing the concept of green features adding value to a house for buyers and sellers.

  9. Simpler and More Widespread Green House Ratings
    The EAI sees more states devising their own energy rating systems as well as agencies coming out with ratings scores that are easier for consumers to understand. For example, the DOE’s straightforward Home Energy Score is being adapted for various climates.

  10. Self-Monitoring Appliances
    More appliances are being introduced that self-monitor their energy usage and send reports to homeowners who can alter settings remotely.