A home is one of the biggest investments a person can make, and it’s one of the ways many Americans can build equity. Homes represent a critical piece of the building industry. As we look to a future where health and climate concerns are at the forefront, designing and building homes to meet the challenges that we face today is crucial. Homes should be healthy living spaces that make us feel comfortable, happy, safe and productive. These days, where we live is being tested, and as a result, we need to start building our homes to address the growing needs of many Americans.
Climate change, for instance, is having a real effect on people’s homes. In 2021, 40% of Americans lived in counties that were affected by a climate disaster. This includes hurricanes, floods, wildfires and even severe storms. Moreover, 80% of Americans experienced extreme heat in 2021. Homes need to be more resilient as climate events become more common. Homes need to be able to withstand these conditions.
Green homes, like those certified by the U.S. Green Building Council’s residential LEED rating system, are designed, constructed and operated to be resilient in adverse conditions. They are developed with proactive design planning for potential impacts of catastrophic weather, taking into account several strategies that can ensure the longevity of homes based on location and environmental issues specific to a particular region. More green homes mean more resilient communities impacted by climate change.
Americans also feel the effects of rising energy costs due to a surge in natural gas prices. We have seen higher than average temperatures across the country since May, while energy demand continues to climb. The national residential energy rate has seen an 8% increase since the beginning of the year. Homeowners are looking for some relief on their electric bills, making homes more energy-efficient and saving hundreds on energy bills.
Green homes help us reduce our energy and water consumption, thereby lowering utility bills each month, among other financial benefits. LEED-certified homes, for example, use less energy and water, which means lower utility bills. On average, certified homes use 20 to 30% less energy than non-green homes, with some homes saving up to 60%.
Health is also an important consideration when it comes to homes. Over the last two years, the COVID-19 pandemic and airborne disease transmitted diseases have forced us to think about best practices to enhance indoor air quality, especially in people’s homes. A green home like those that are LEED-certified maximize indoor fresh air and minimize exposure to airborne toxins and pollutants, making it healthier and more comfortable.
The benefits of building green homes are enormous. Green homes can help create more resilient communities, keep homeowners healthy and safe as well as save on energy costs. But more importantly, with third-party certified green homes, there’s accountability and no cutting corners. Third-party validation helps guarantee that each project saves energy, water and other resources, reducing overall environmental impact.