3 ways propane helps green home building

Propane provides builders with a clean, efficient and affordable energy solution
Propane contributes to the sustainability of green homes. (Photo: Vladimirs Prusakovs, Dreamstime)

In recent years, the demand for cleaner, more sustainable homes has grown — and that trend isn’t slowing down.

In fact, a recent Harris Poll study commissioned by the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) found that residential customers across the country are prioritizing high-performance homes and are willing to pay more for them, too. The survey also revealed that two-thirds of construction professionals expect the demand for green, energy-efficient homes to increase significantly over the next five to 20 years.

[Related: Green homes can be affordable homes]

This demand is especially high in Colorado, one of the highest-ranking states in the United States for green building.

When it comes to the elements of a green home, it’s important to consider the home systems, appliances and energy sources being used in the build. Fortunately, propane appliances can play a key role in sustainable design and construction, helping increase efficiency, reduce energy costs and drive down emissions from the built environment. Plus, propane is a portable fuel, granting construction professionals the freedom to build when and where they want.

Here are three ways that propane can help builders and construction professionals meet the growing demand for sustainable homes:

Propane is environmentally friendly. Propane produces significantly fewer carbon emissions compared to electricity for key residential applications because about 30% of the electricity in the U.S. is produced by coal-fired power plants. 

Propane tankless water heaters, for example, can produce up to 61% fewer greenhouse gas emissions, 47% fewer nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, and 91% fewer sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions than electric-powered storage tank water heaters. And propane furnaces can produce up to 50% fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to electric furnaces in residential applications.

Propane systems can even help projects earn points under green building programs like LEED for Homes and the National Green Building Standard. This is as important as ever because LEED certification in the residential market is on the rise — especially in Colorado. In fact, the state currently has more than 6,500 LEED-certified residential units. And across the world, LEED-certified homes have grown 19% since 2017.

Propane is a portable fuel stored onsite. As builders work to develop sites in rural areas, and outside of big cities like Denver, they may run into costly fees to extend utilities to the site. By incorporating propane into their projects, builders aren’t at the mercy of a public utility, and can build high-performance homes anywhere.

Propane is a portable fuel that can be stored onsite. Storage tanks can either be placed above ground or buried underground. Plus, propane provides jobsite flexibility by providing gas energy for portable generators and temporary construction heaters.

Propane reduces energy consumption — and homeowners’ utility bills. Customers with sustainable, environmentally-conscious preferences are often up against expensive solutions. Propane is a cost-effective way for builders to help their customers achieve their green preferences without breaking their budget.

Propane-powered appliances are typically far more efficient than their electric counterparts. For example, an Energy-Star qualified propane tankless water heater can save customers up to 50% on their energy bills, when compared with the costs of operating a standard electric storage tank water heater. Plus, high-efficiency furnaces have ratings of up to 98% annual fuel utilization efficiency — which translates to big savings on heating bills for customers, coupled with an affordable installation cost for the heating system.

Plus, as more communities target net-zero energy goals for new construction, it is more important than ever to understand how to get to zero and still have satisfied customers. Shedding high-amperage electrical loads and replacing them with high-efficiency propane products allows builders to build a solar PV array to meet the home’s electrical needs. And by pairing it with a propane generator, customers will not only have a quality green home, but one that performs even when the sun isn’t out.

Bryan Cordill is director of residential and commercial business development for the Propane Education & Research Council. He can be reached at [email protected].

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