Home Building Articles

Earth Advantage Institute Selects Top 10 Green Building Trends for 2010

January 11, 2010

Trends range from energy scores for homes to web-based displays that track energy usage in real time.

Matt Phair, HousingZone Contributing Editor
January 8, 2010

The Earth Advantage Institute, a leading nonprofit green building resource that has certified more than 11,000 sustainable homes, today announced its selections for top-10 green building trends to watch in 2010. The trends, which range from energy "scores" for homes to web-based displays that track energy usage in real time, were identified by Earth Advantage Institute based on discussions and transactions with a range of audiences over the latter part of 2009, including builders, architects, real estate brokers, appraisers, lenders, and homeowners.

The 10 trends are:

  • The smart grid and connected home, including the development of custom and web-based display panels that show real-time home energy use, and even real-time energy use broken out by individual appliance.
  • Energy labeling for homes and office buildings, which will make a building-to-building or home-to-home comparison easier. Having a publicly available score on the multiple listing service could galvanize owners to make needed energy improvements while adding value to their building.
  • Building information modeling (BIM) software, including the latest algorithms for energy modeling as well as embedded energy properties for many materials and features will prove instrumental in predicting building performance. BIM developers will soon be offering more affordable packages aimed at smaller firms and individual builders.
  • Financial community buy-in to green building, as lenders and insurers come to see green homes and buildings as better for their bottom line and are working to get new reduced-rate loan products, insurance packages, and metrics into place.
  • "Rightsizing" of homes, where the conservative forecast for home valuation, rising energy prices and rising interest rates all combine to influence homeowners to feel more comfortable building smaller homes and smaller add-ons.
  • Eco-districts, where residents have access to most services and supplies within walking or biking distance.
  • Water conservation, for both indoor and outdoor residential use, will be supported by the EPA's new voluntary WaterSense specification for new homes, which reduces water use by about 20 percent compared to a conventional new home.
  • Carbon calculation, where the progressive elements in the building industry are looking at ways to document, measure, and reduce greenhouse gas creation in building materials and processes.
  • Net zero buildings, which are buildings that generate more energy than they use over the course of a year.
  • Sustainable building education, for supporting the entire chain of professionals involved in the building industry, from real estate to finance, and insurance.