Going Green at the S&P Housing Summit

Smog-eating tiles mean that roofs never have to go hungry– and other words of wisdom from the S&P Housing Summit green panel

There’s no mistaking it. Builders see green building as a market differentiator. As we heard yesterday from Jeff Mezger, president and CEO of KB Home, during Standard & Poor’s Housing Summit in NYC, his firm uses Energy Performance Guides to help homebuyers plan for expected energy costs and consider the total cost of home ownership. The cost of utilities in older homes is likely to be two or three times more than a newer home, but average new homes could also have surprisingly higher costs over the lifecycle of the building than energy-efficient KB Homes.

If we look beyond housing, green building provides real business and health benefits to all construction sectors, with office owners citing 6% in rent and occupancy increases on average, and green schools reporting a reduction in student absenteeism and asthma attacks.

Based on new research results released by McGraw-Hill Construction, 25% of the builders surveyed say their customers are buying green homes because of the high quality of the home and for investment reasons. They also said it is important that appraisers become more educated on the increased value of a green home, cited energy efficiency as the most important green building practice, and noted that consumers are focusing more attention on indoor air quality and family health.

With improved air quality and materials, such as mold-resistant gypsum or smog-eating roof tiles, being implemented in green buildings, contractors and owners have taken a real interest in products that boost health and conserve both energy and water, said Eric Belsky, executive director, Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.

Federal regulators, such as panelist Stockton S. Williams, senior advisor for urban policy, Department of Energy, recognize the need to partner with the private sector to collect data on actual green building performance as well as pursuing new business opportunities. If green homes save owners thousands of dollars in energy costs, why shouldn’t that be integrated into the owner’s credit risk analysis or the home appraisal?

The posts on this blog are opinions, not advice.
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