Earth Day 2018: Environmental Efforts and AnalysisApril 23rd, 2018 by Editor
Earth Day was celebrated on Sunday, and for the door, window and residential construction industries, it was an important reminder of the role that fenestration products play in the energy efficiency of buildings, which consume 70 percent of the electricity in the U.S. at a cost of more than $500 billion per year.
There’s strong evidence that focusing on thermal efficiency in the building envelope is paying off. By 2016, the increase in energy-efficient windows in U.S. homes between the late 1980s and late 2000s helped cut the share of household energy being used to heat and cool the interior from 61 percent to 48 percent, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
With that in mind, here’s a look at how specific companies marked Earth Day, plus some research on the affordability of “green” features such as windows in residential housing.
Windows, Vinyl and Trim
Intus Windows of Fairfax, VA, used Earth Day to launch a program called One Window, One Tree. The company says that for every door or window sold for architectural projects, it will plant a tree to further offset the structure’s carbon footprint. By 2030, Intus says it could be planting 2 million trees in the U.S. every year.
The company says its goal is to offset carbon emissions enough to recover the absorption rate of 5 billion trees by 2036. This will be accomplished through sales of its energy-efficient doors and windows combined with the new tree planting program. The program includes tree planting and reforestation, as well as beautification projects and sustainability education.
In honor of Earth Day, Andersen noted that Green Builder Media readers recently ranked it as the greenest brand among door and window manufacturers in North America for the seventh year in a row.
The annual Reader’s Choice brand survey recognizes the products and brands that green building professionals perceive as the most sustainable, innovative and high performing. Of readers participating in the survey, 23.6 percent named Andersen as the company that offers the greenest fenestration products.
“We take pride in the fact that our products add beauty and style to the spaces where our customers live, work and play, along with the peace of mind that comes with enhanced energy efficiency, durability, comfort and healthy indoor air quality,” said Grant Davis, vice president and general manager of Andersen’s Residential and Commercial Pro Division.
The theme of Earth Day 2018 is End Plastic Pollution, and the vinyl industry is taking lots of steps to do just that, according to the Vinyl Institute, which says that post-consumer recycling of vinyl is up 40 percent since 2014. Because of that Environmental Protection Agency’s most recent Municipal Solid Waste Report says vinyl represents only 0.8 percent of all materials found in landfills.
Azek Building Products, a leading maker of moulding and trim, noted its efforts to keep plastics out of landfills on Earth Day.
“Azek owns proprietary, state-of-the-art manufacturing that turns recycled plastics into high-performance materials,” said Bruce Stanhope, vice president, research and development, Azek Building Products. “It allows us to accept materials that most manufacturers cannot work with, which highlights our commitment to the environment.”
For example, the company says its TimberTech decking is on a path toward a 100 percent recycled core. Currently, the wood content in TimberTech decking is 100 percent recycled, certified for sustainable forestry and is 100 percent from the U.S., providing protection to the tropical rainforests.
Green Housing: It Isn’t Always Expensive
Homes with eco-friendly features do not always command a premium price tag in today’s hot housing market, according to an Earth Day-timed analysis from realtor.com.
Realtor.com looked at current listings in the top 200 U.S. metros to determine the market availability of “green” homes with any of seven eco-friendly features, such as dual-pane windows. It then evaluated how much more – or less – these homes may cost a prospective homebuyer.
Prospective homebuyers in the Fort Collins, CO, metro area have the highest likelihood of finding a home with integrated “green” features, with 36 percent of its April 2018 listings noting at least one sustainable living feature. Following closely behind are the Dallas-Fort Worth–Arlington, TX and San Jose/Sunnyvale/Santa Clara, CA, metro areas at 35 percent of listings each.
Although homes with eco-friendly features are four percent more expensive than the median home price in the Dallas metro area, there is essentially no price difference between “green” homes and the median home price in Fort Collins. And homebuyers looking in Sunnyvale/San Jose/Santa Clara can find homes with sustainable features for five percent less than the local median home price.
Of the top 10 “green” metros, buyers in Tulsa, OK, will pay the biggest premium – 19 percent – if buying a home with existing eco-friendly features is a priority. Those in Salinas, CA, have the biggest price advantage, as “green” listings are 14 percent below the median home price. However, while three California metros show that “green” homes are less expensive relative to the median home price in their respective areas, it’s important to remember that the median home price in each metro is significantly higher than those in other states.
Four Connecticut metros have the highest concentration of Energy Star-rated home listings currently on the market, but most homebuyers will need to pay between 21 to 26 percent more than the median home price per square foot.
Energy Star-rated homes make up four percent of current listings in each of Connecticut’s Norwich-New London, Hartford, and New Haven–Milford metro areas, adding 26 percent, 21 percent and 24 percent more to the price per square foot, respectively. Energy Star-rated homes in the Greensboro–High Point, NC, metro, the fifth highest concentration market at 1 percent of total listings, will cost buyers 41 percent more per square foot.
Of the top five metros, the only one that does not require a premium is the Bridgeport–Stamford–Norwalk metro area, where Energy Star-rated homes account for slightly more than 3 percent of active listings. While the median home price is the most expensive of the top five metros at $792,050, buyers can save $37,050 on average for a Energy Star-rated home.