10 Green Building Predictions for 2012 from Earth Advantage Institute

Earth Advantage Institute, a nonprofit green building resource, announced its annual prediction of ten green building trends to watch in 2012. The trends, which range from a boom in certified multi-family construction to the advent of consumer friendly home energy technology, were identified by Earth Advantage Institute based on discussions with a broad range of audiences over the latter part of 2011. According to the announcement, the trends are:

  1. Urban density. Filling in the spaces is the name of the game as homeowners and builders opt to create more living space through the construction of accessory dwelling units (ADUs), laneway homes (bordering the back lane behind the main house), and build on infill lots.
  2. Green multifamily homes. As a corollary to the urban density trend, Earth Advantage Institute has seen a large spike in Northwest multifamily building certifications this past year.
  3. Energy upgrades start to drive home remodels. Builders and remodelers who are plugged into changing consumer preferences (smaller homes, reduced energy bills) have been able to capitalize on energy upgrade work. They have moved into the energy audit and residential retrofit market by either expanding their service offerings or creating entirely new service groups.
  4. Deployment and testing of new materials. Although architects and builders are eager to try to new energy-saving materials and systems, these products require significant testing to ensure that the materials and benefits will last the life of the building and to avoid litigation. As a result, national labs and university research departments are partnering with builders to create test beds and sensor-filled buildings that log the energy performance of new materials and equipment.
  5. Consumer friendly home energy tracking devices. The introduction of sensor-based energy and water monitoring products for the home can help save money.
  6. Energy education for commercial tenants. The growing adoption of commercial building energy disclosure has building owners/operators and utilities seeking effective ways to educate tenants on saving energy.
  7. Transparency in home marketing. The increasing use of smart devices by consumers to instantly access information at a home site means that buyers are much more informed and can see through any greenwashing claims.
  8. More accurate appraisals. The ability for sellers and buyers to ask their banks for a green-certified appraiser means that the lending community will buy into the idea of the additional value and return on investment offered by new certified homes and remodels.
  9. Broader adoption of residential energy ratings for homes. Energy labeling systems are appearing in many states, offering a miles-per-gallon style estimate of a home’s energy consumption for homebuyers and homeowners.
  10. Smart grid-compatible high-performance homes. Increasing numbers of household appliances are becoming “grid-aware” and are gaining the ability to monitor and report their own usage and to increase or decrease their electricity usage by remote command.
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