location, design, & preservation
Green does not have to be more expensive, as a matter of fact, three of the most important green remodel strategies cost nothing.
Typically, the four most referenced environmental impact areas of green building are energy, water, indoor air and materials. But three of the most important strategies are often overlooked, which include location, design, and preservation. And, barring assumed zip code exclusivity, these three green strategies reduce costs.
Expenses of a home are defined by the mortgage or rent, and operating costs or the utility bills. The average annual household electricity cost in the United States is $2600 or over $200 per month. Utility costs are not as great as transportation costs of a home.
The average annual transportation cost for a home in the United States is $10,000, varying widely from a low of $5,053 in New York City’s most well-connected neighborhoods, to a high of almost $17,807 in Olympia, Washington’s low-density suburbs.
The less car dependent, the less the estimated transportation cost.
A good reference for a numeric value of a home’s car dependency is the walk score, one can input an address and receive a value 1 – 100 depending on the degree of being less car dependent. The higher the score, the greater the availability of mass transit and community services such as schools, grocery stores, parks, and entertainment.
The second most important green strategy is design, meaning fewer square feet and more bedrooms. The most efficient design is flexible, open, and requires fewer square feet to live comfortably. Often, well planned space design will give a smaller space a ‘bigger’ feel. Chris Browning, a Builder from Prescott Arizona, will be completing a newly constructed G Home later this month. Browning states that his custom green home is 2200 square feet, but is almost always perceived as feeling 3000+ square feet. In order to provide a bigger feel, Browning implements construction strategies such as a wrap around porch and other creative design techniques.
With this in mind, values are shifting, says Shannon Scutari, from Scutari & Co, “the public is shifting from the desire to own fewer McMansions with four car garages and more well insulated, better designed homes.”
Preservation is the third most important, no cost green strategy. The greenest home is the existing one. There is no need to tear down a perfectly good structure when it can be made better than a new home with a small investment, good planning and professional design.
Based on the above three green strategies, is a brand new net zero home located in the suburbs a green home?
Or, is the greenest home the existing one, when it is well located and designed to be more efficient with fewer square feet?