Residential construction leaders have begun predicting green building trends for 2017. Most homebuyers aren’t looking for a LEED label on a new home, but they are looking for high performance and comfort. That’s the consensus from builders and other industry professionals who have participated in the Excellence & Building Conference in Texas. Here’s an overview of insights and trends shared by building professionals.

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Energy/Water Efficiency

When homebuyers were surveyed, the tops “must haves” in a home were energy and water efficiency. Consumers are getting increasingly concerned about climate and global warming. People are realizing they can do something to make a difference.

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Informed Consumers

It’s said 90 percent of homebuyers go to a website before they buy a home. This action drives their understanding and their preference for high performance. They recognize that very often it takes more first cost investment to get a home to high performance but they don’t care as much about the sticker price as much as the ownership cost. It becomes obvious to the informed consumer that they get to own and experience a house that has so much more to offer, at lower cost per month if they invest in a high performance home.

Sustainability

The marketplace is changing. Various age groups have different values and different needs, but sustainability has been part of what millennials have grown up with. It’s an expectation to be gentle to the planet and do their part. Most people want to be green because it makes them feel good. They’re doing it to do their part to be good environmental citizen.

High Expectations

Great strides have been made in the building industry in the last 10-15 years. Now the goal is to really deliver the total experience to homeowners where they see lower utility bills, improved comfort and indoor air quality. Meeting homeowner expectations is key along with education about what their homes should deliver.

Building Envelope

Green building is not a convoluted concept, people in the industry talk about gadgets and controls, but it’s really about building an envelope that’s air tight and ventilated right. If the mechanical system is properly sized, you have proper ventilation to provide quality air to the occupants and provide comfort with a balanced atmosphere in the home. You want to walk into a home that’s properly designed so it is comfortable all year round.

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Homeowners understand the value of high performance homes and the long-term benefit that it brings to them. It’s part of a bigger equation. For instance, when you buy a car you don’t just look at the price of the car, you look at how much it’s going to cost to maintain it. It’s the same with these homes. People are investing in a higher value product that performs at a higher level.

Water Heating

All across the country in high performance homes the thermal loads are so small, the equipment is so efficient, the lights are so efficient, that water heating is often the biggest load in the building. What should be done about that? Just change the water heater technology? No. There are other issues; it’s all part of a system.

For builders, water heating is the next frontier of efficiency. They can make it perform significantly better than the average, they can reduce time to tap to seconds as opposed to minutes, and they can increase the efficiency of the heating of it so the energy consumption drops by half, they can capture waste heat which drops it again, they can put better fixtures and appliances in, which drops it again. As a result, a smaller water heater is needed because they addressed all the other performance issues.

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Longevity

Today people understand that a sustainable building is going to allow them to experience: comfort, health, safety, living in a home that’s affordable as well as high performance. They want to be assured that the home they’re going to buy is going to be one that will last, be durable and work for them for years to come. Once the buyers understand the true cost of ownership, they will want homes that are built right.

Americans are increasing interested in greener, safer, healthier, and more efficient homes. They might not be able to articulate it that way, but the bottom line is that their home is where they are raising their families, they want it to be cozy and safe and nurturing. What’s important to American’s is living in a home that’s affordable as well as high performance.