Green House Hunting

When browsing home listings you’ll often come across the terms luxurious, spacious and stunning used to describe a home’s appealing attributes, but what about green? Green has become one of the most marketable colors in real estate, and no, not homes painted the verdant shade, but ones that incorporate environmentally conscious features. According to a report from the U.S. Green Building Council, by 2018 the green housing market will represent about 40 percent of the overall market and 84 percent of all residential construction will have energy-efficient and sustainable features. Clearly, the demand for green homes is rapidly growing, but what exactly is a green home? Gil Vaughan, a local realtor, certified Eco Broker and chairman of the Triad Green Building Council of North Carolina, defines a green home as:

“Any home that meets or exceeds an Energy Star Rating of 5+, and has other features that increase the health, sustainability, comfort, energy efficiency and eco-friendliness that a home should attain.”

Green homes include many features related to energy efficiency, water conservation, environmentally friendly building materials and techniques, and human and environmental health. With construction and buildings contributing to a tremendous amount of the United States’ resource consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and the global energy use, the demand has increased for sustainable alternatives in both the commercial and residential divisions. This demand has allowed green homes to become progressively more appealing and profitable for homebuyers and the international construction market in general.

Advantages of Green

There are several benefits associated with green homes. Not only does going green save you money in the long run, it preserves natural resources efficiently and reduces the impact on the environment. An added advantage is that these benefits can all be achieved without compromising your comfort or daily routine.

Green is Cost-Effective

Green Benefits the Environment

Going Green

Whether you are looking to build a home, starting the hunt for a new one or simply updating your current home, going green is an exciting endeavor. However, with new products, building techniques and technologies constantly hitting the market, it’s easy to find yourself lost in what to search for.

Here is a quick and simple checklist to ensure a home is energy-efficient and sustainable:

Other considerations when house hunting:

Beware of Greenwashing

Many of today’s homebuyers are now looking exclusively at green home options. With the popularity of green features, realtors and sellers want to offer energy-efficient and environmentally friendly homes. Considering that most green homes sell at higher prices, sellers may present a home to be greener than it actually is. One of the most important steps to green house hunting is to review the official certifications of a home. To ensure a home is meeting green requirements, there are many recognized organizations that provide proper certification to indicate a home is environmentally friendly and energy-efficient. These organizations include:

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED): A rating system developed by the United States Green Building Council for the environmental performance of a building. LEED-certified buildings have 34 percent lower CO2 emissions, consume 25 percent less energy and 11 percent less water.

ENERGY STAR®: Created by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, ENERGY STAR is a program and international standard to certify products as energy-efficient.

National Green Building Standard: A residential green building standard, the first of its kind to undergo the full consensus process and receive approval from the American National Standard Institute.

WaterSense: Sponsored by the EPA, it is both a label for water-efficient products and a resource for water conservation.

Home Energy Rating System (HERS): A system used to inspect and calculate a home’s energy performance.

Green at the Local Level

North Carolinians are excelling in many aspects of green homes. In a national study conducted in 2016 by the North Carolina Building Performance Association, North Carolina was ranked in the top five states for “energy efficient, green and high performance construction volume and saturation.”


However, North Carolina still faces some challenges. Local realtors have revealed that most homebuyers are still more concerned with finding a “flashy” home over a green home. When asked about the local green housing market in 2017, Vaughan says, “We [the Triad Green Building Council] have a tremendous challenge of educating the consumers and the builders of the advantages of building green homes. I believe that we will continue to lag behind other areas because of the lack of ‘buy-in’ from our builders and consumers.” He also adds that the standard local building codes are very close to the ENERGY STAR standards, which makes it difficult to convince builders to spend the money on the certification process.

The Future is Green

Despite the current standings of green homes in North Carolina, local realtors are optimistic and confident that the North Carolina green housing market will experience exponential growth in the coming years. The growth of green homes is not an overnight process, it coincides with increased awareness and education of our impacts on greenhouse gas emissions, resource consumption and energy usage. With countless resources and limitless options, going green is getting easier by the day. Regardless of whether you are building, shopping for or updating a home, consider going green and enjoying the many perks.