What will it take for people to go green? Lower costs. Though green building often translates to savings over the long run, the materials themselves are often cost prohibitive to the average homeowner. However, is this a real barrier or is it perceived that a ‘green’ house will be an expensive house?
According to a study conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) on behalf of the Whirlpool Corporation and Habitat for Humanity, over half of the respondents said that lower cost of products and materials is necessary for green homes to become an affordable option to traditional homes.
"Green building can enhance the affordability of homes by decreasing utility costs and is a responsible building practice," said Larry Gluth, senior vice president of U.S. and Canada for Habitat for Humanity International in a statement. Though many people realize the benefits of green building, the thought of solar panels, FSC-certified wood and double-paned windows can be a daunting experience. Some may also find it difficult to reconcile the initial costs with the long-term savings.
The homeowners who stand to benefit the most from the long-term savings associated with green building are low income families. Over the last few years, green low-income multi-family housing developments have sprung up in the United States, proving that sustainability is not out of reach to low income families. While there may be a few exceptions, it seems the only single-family homes that are green also belong to families of means.
Through further education, green homes may become a reality for all income brackets. To bring green building to the masses, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History is constructing SmartHome Cleveland, a building designed to showcase green technology that will be open for public viewing from June to September of this year. "SmartHome Cleveland will give thousands of people hands-on experience with the most advanced, practical and attractive techniques of green building and energy conservation," said David Beach, director of GreenCityBlueLake Institute, the center for sustainability at the Museum. "It will also raise design standards in Northeast Ohio by increasing awareness of passive house principles, and can help make Cleveland a center for advanced design." As more people become familiar with green building, they may view it as a long-term investment rather than a short-term financial burden.
Source: Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Habitat for Humanity, Whirlpool