Green Building Trends for 2011
Earth Advantage Institute spots promising directions.
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After discussions with a wide range of stakeholders — policymakers, builders, developers, architects, real estate brokers, appraisers, lenders and homeowners
— the Earth Advantage Institute ( earthadvantage.org), a
nonprofit green building advocate, identified the following
trends in green building for 2011.
1. Green is more affordable. The view that green
homes are too expensive for average people is diminishing
with the rise of new business models and high-performance
materials. Free or low-cost energy audits are now widely
available, and homeowners are taking advantage of inexpensive energy-efficiency upgrades. Programs like Solar
City’s lease-to-own business model enable homeowners
to get solar without up-front payments.
2. Comparing energy use. Online tools now let homeowners see how their energy use compares to that of neighbors and friends. Earth Aid ( earthaid.net) users can track
home energy use and earn rewards for saving energy from
local vendors, while competing with friends to see who
saves the most energy. Programs like the U.S. Department
of Energy’s Home Energy Score ( homeenergyscore.gov),
along with Oregon and Washington’s Energy Performance
Score ( energytrust.org), are harbingers of things to come
— people will share and compare their home energy consumption, perhaps even on Facebook.
3. Performance-based energy codes. The city of
Seattle and the New Building Institute are working with
the National Trust Preservation Green Lab to pioneer a
building code framework that measures the
results of retrofits for
new and existing buildings. That would be
an improvement over
current codes, which
issue permits based on
the goals of retrofits,
not what they actually produce. It would
reward creative solutions not anticipated
by existing codes, and
it would assure that
faulty HVAC equipment, for instance, will be fixed. Performance-based codes
would have to achieve a pre-negotiated performance target
through mandatory annual reporting.
4. Community renewable energy. Neighbors will
increasingly band together to get lower prices on solar
installations and literally share renewable energy systems.
DOERR ARCHI TEC TURE/BUILDSUS TAINABLY. COM
renovation became a passive
solar star using green building techniques.
20 April 2011 SOLAR TODA Y solartoday.org
Copyright © 2011 by the American Solar Energy Society Inc. All rights reserved.
Buying solar as a group reduces the cost by 15 to 25 per-
cent; investing in a neighbor’s solar system allows people
to benefit from solar even if they can’t put it on their own
roof because of shading, the age of the roof or because they
rent. See “A Guide to Community Solar” ( nwseed.org/