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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Sustainable Home Buying – Finding Your Green Forever Home

By Sam Bowman

It’s no secret that we’ve reached a point of urgency in maintaining the health of our environment. If we don’t all make significant adjustments to our lifestyles now, future generations will likely suffer as a result of the irreversible effects of climate change. One of the ways you can make a positive impact is to seek out green homes when looking for a new abode.

In some areas, you’ll find there are realtors specializing in helping buyers find green homes. However, this isn’t always an option, which can make the process challenging. This is why it can be helpful to adopt some best practices that can help you identify appropriate properties.

Let’s take a moment to review a few important components of sustainable property buying that can help you find your green forever home.

Be Clear About Your Goals

While there may be generally accepted standards, “green” can mean different things to each buyer. Are you prioritizing energy efficiency? Do you want every aspect of your home to have zero carbon footprint? Do you need good quality surrounding land so you’re able to grow your own food? Start your process by making a list of all the elements that you feel your green home should have. 

Your clarity here shouldn’t just be the basis of the more obvious design elements of the home. You should also consider the underlying structural and operational aspects that impact how green your new home possibilities are. For instance, a lack of air-tightness in the building’s structural envelope can significantly reduce energy conservation. Understanding these potential areas of opportunity can help you to more effectively assess any inspections you have arranged during the home-buying process. Having better clarity on these factors can also aid in the offer and negotiation process. Knowing all there is to know about the various sustainability aspects of a home early on will equip you with the confidence to haggle on the basis of improvements needed  to make the home green.

Review Local Infrastructure

It is not just the house itself that helps to make for a green forever home. You also need to look at the surrounding elements that support your sustainability efforts. In some areas of the country or even individual neighborhoods, it can be more difficult to maintain a meaningfully sustainable property than in others. The key here is to review how green the local infrastructure around your target home is.

Some of the more simple elements include looking at the availability of green electricity providers in the area. Pushing for energy efficiency in your home is great, but it can be of limited value if you’re only able to get your energy from companies releasing significant emissions and waste. If you’re planning to run your home entirely from solar panels, it’s important to review how well your local legislation supports this. Some states actively discourage homeowners from utilizing solar panels through taxation and even charge homeowners for generating more electricity than they need. Therefore, it’s important to do your research into what hurdles you may come across.

It’s also worth looking at what incentives local government bodies provide to green homeowners. While you might not be able to buy a green home outright, the supportive funding and tax elements in some areas might make it practical for you to invest in upgrades. Some states offer rebates for investment in elements such as solar panels or energy efficiency improvements. Others offer loans for updates that can ease the immediate financial burden of going green.

Plan for Potential Upgrades

As you’re viewing houses, consider how practical it will be to make effective green upgrades. The last thing you want is to invest in an otherwise perfect property only to find that the quality of the land surrounding it is not suitable for supporting a geothermal heating system. One of the key actions to take during any home viewing is not only to think about the present condition of the property, but to also evaluate its potential to meet your future needs.

If you’re lucky enough to find a property that has been constructed with green principles in mind, keeping your home green should be considered an ongoing process. Even after you purchase a home, make sure any additional upgrades or changes are undertaken in the most sustainable manner possible. For instance, the challenges of a remodel can vary depending on the season in which it is performed. While the materials for an upgrade may be cheaper in the winter months, you’re also more likely to utilize more energy if you’re doing any construction. This is because you’ll be using more lighting as the days get darker earlier and you may struggle to keep the house warm when doors and windows are open for ventilation.

Final Thoughts

Buying a green home can be a valuable part of your ongoing sustainability strategy. It’s important to start by gaining clarity on your personal priorities so you can identify relevant properties and negotiation opportunities. It’s also wise to examine whether the existing community supports sustainability efforts with a solid local infrastructure. Remember that keeping a green home is an ongoing activity, so approach the viewing and renovation process with sustainable upgrades in mind. 



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