A Move Toward Sustainable Living
After years of riding the wave of excess, and a housing market crash that is just beginning to rebound, builders are listening to the needs of consumers and building smaller homes. The era of the McMansion is over, just as the soaring price of fuel has people rethinking their purchases of giant gas guzzling SUV’s.
Forward thinking consumers are realizing the long term benefits of downsizing in all aspects of life. Because one of our biggest expenses is our home, this is the place where we stand to save the most by going smaller.
Middle class incomes have been in a steep decline, and the downsizing trend is expected to continue. Construction companies recognize that homes need to be productive. By designing smaller, energy efficient homes, that incorporate solar energy and reduce water waste, builders are addressing the needs of current and future consumers.
The advances in technology mean that having a green home doesn’t equate to an ugly home made of recycled tires or coke bottles. There are some beautiful products being made from recycled materials now.
In fact, consumers may not consider themselves green but recognize the fact that energy efficiency will save them money. Conventional home builders have adapted to this market and report that in order to find new work they have begun offering green design services. The good news is that the cost of building green is dropping as demand for the technologies grows.
Size Matters (But You Already Knew That, Didn’t You?)
Smaller homes cost less to heat and cool. Home improvements and repairs cost less because of the smaller square footage of, say, roof repairs or floor recovering. Cleaning and maintenance take up less of your time resulting in a higher quality of life. Having less space means you can’t hoard things. We spend an absurd amount of money collecting things that end up in every bit of storage space.
We can all live with less clutter, and when we focus on accumulating experiences instead of things, we are stepping out of the cycle of needless spending and realize that we are just as happy without the stuff. Smaller homes will be easier to sell because the demand for this type of home will continue to grow. Young couples starting out these days aren’t going to qualify for $800,000 mortgages like they would have a few years ago.
LEED The Way
No, not LED, LEED – the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification was developed in 2000 by the US Green Building Council. Certification is awarded for homes or communities which are built using sustainable site development, energy efficiency, less water waste, percentage of green materials used, and indoor environmental quality. The certification criteria is being updated this year and it will be interesting to see the changes.
Peas in a Pod – You Can’t Get Greener Than That!
There are several companies building compact custom modular homes. The designs are lovely, energy efficient and customized to the property they are to be built on. They can be situated to take full advantage of the sun and prevailing winds. The interiors are gorgeous and are designed to maximize the space. The pods range in size from 300 to 800 square feet but can also be stacked or joined for larger families.