Save some green by going green!
If the current economic climate has taught us anything, it is that the times of excessive building practices are over, and everyone, from first time buyers to those purchasing a second home, are looking for ways to make their dollar stretch further. For many, that coincides well with the idea of low impact green building. While not everyone is particularly environmentally aware, most people understand that we need to change many of our current living practices, and the ways that we construct and live within our homes.
So now we understand the ‘why’ of green building, how do we do it? There are two ways to get a greener home. The first way is to move into a new green home, the second is to transform an existing home and make it more energy efficient.
LEED-ing the way
There are lots of advantages to buying a new home: Firstly, you don’t need to worry about thirty year old stoves breaking down, secondly, if something does break, it’s under warranty, and thirdly, if you buy while the building is under construction, you can choose many of the fixtures, fittings and appliances.
If you’ve been looking for a new home, you may very well have seen the term ‘LEED’ used. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is an environmental rating system, which defines green building practices, and the levels at which they are implemented.
There are various levels of attainment that a development can receive. These are: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Points are awarded in six categories:
- Sustainable sites (e.g. where the site is located, proximity to public transport)
- Water Efficiency: (e.g. efficient landscaping, water use reduction)
- Energy and Atmosphere: (e.g. on-site renewable energy, energy usage and performance)
- Materials and Resources: (e.g. storage and collection of recyclables, use of recycled content in building)
- Indoor Environmental Quality: (e.g. environmental tobacco smoke control, low emitting materials - e.g. paints, sealants etc)
- Innovation in Design (e.g. innovative building, use of a LEED accredited professional)
Using this criteria, buildings are rated as to their level of compliance with these standards. On Realestock.com, we have a number of LEED compliant developments (169) including Dockside Green in Victoria, BC.
Dockside Green is a particularly interesting example of a LEED compliant development. Dockside began building with the aim of becoming the first LEED Platinum master planned development in the world. They felt so strongly about this that they backed it up with a promise: If they didn’t get platinum level LEED status, they would give the local government $1 million dollars.
If you are looking for an environmental home, LEED designation is probably a good indicator of how energy efficient a new home is. While developers may indicate that their development is environmentally friendly, LEED designation is a great indicator, and a guarantee that you are buying a green development.
Green up your home!
If you are not in the market for a new development, but are interested in buying an older condo or house, then there are plenty of ways to make your home greener, and make essential energy and water savings. These include:
- Compact Fluorescent Bulbs: Probably the cheapest way to ‘greenify’ your home, and they can save 2,000 times of their own weight in greenhouse gas emissions.
- Low-Flow Toilets: Every time you flush, you use gallons of water unnecessarily. Many governments offer rebates when you buy them, and they now work out as only a little more expensive than regular toilets.
- Energy efficient appliances: Energy efficient appliances do the same as your old appliances, but don’t use anywhere near as much water or energy. Again, look into rebates and how much energy you can save by using these appliances.
- Heating controls: By using thermostats in each room, you can not only control heating in different rooms, but also at different times, therefore allowing you to better control how and when you use your heating.
These features will not only increase the amount of money that you will save in heating and other expenses, but it will also be an excellent selling feature should you decide that you want to move on. Eventually, as heating fuels become more expensive, and water less plentiful, these green alternatives will become essentials, and so for a home to have these already present will be a huge advantage when selling.
So if you are looking for a green home, remember: even if it costs more money in the short term, within a few years your green choices will pay off, and the benefits will outweigh the initial payments. So save money, save the earth, and go green now!