Jetson Green, one of our favorite green building blogs, broke down the top 10 green building trends according to the Earth Advantage Institute.
1. The smart grid and connected home. Smart grid aspects will be noticed in the home. Dashboards and energy monitoring technology will pick up as we start to see custom and web-based display panels that show real-time energy use, including appliance energy use.
2. Energy labeling for homes and office buildings. In Oregon and Washington, the Energy Performance Score is catching the attention of legislators. In addition, more accurate energy rating systems push for the need to put a sticker on homes, just like on cars.
3. Increased use of building information modeling (BIM) software. With software add-on tools, energy modeling, and an understanding of the embedded energy properties of materials and products, we’ll start to see an increasing use of BIM, especially with contractors.
4. Buy-in to green building by the financial community. Lenders and insurers now see the value of green. They realize that green home owners, for the most part, are more responsible, less likely to default, and more likely to maintain their property.
5. “Right-sizing” of homes. A larger home no longer provides the equity that it once did. With the possibility of rising interest rates, rising energy costs, and conservative home valuations, expect to see homes that are more modest in size.
6. Proliferation of eco-districts. Portland is on this trend right now, as pockets within cities develop to provide services and supplies within walking or biking distance. In an eco-district, there’s green space, green buildings, and walkability. These districts will show up in suburban areas, too.
7. Water conservation gains. While Europe already documents building water use in environmental labels, the WaterSense specification for homes was just finalized by the EPA in December 2009. Expect water conservation and efficiency to become more important as water is the essential resource in the next decade.
8. Carbon calculations of building materials and processes. With buildings contributing roughly half of the carbon emissions, industry leaders are looking for ways to document, measure, and reduce GHG emissions in materials and processes. If a cap and trade scheme is launched, expect this effort to heighten.
9. More net zero energy buildings. Net zero energy buildings generate more energy than is used over the course of a year. To do this, a project must combine energy efficiency and some aspect of on-site energy generation. It’s more cost-effective to build energy efficiency into a structure, and we’ll see more of these buildings as time goes on.
10. Continued demand for sustainable building education. With the slowdown in the construction industry, some are retooling and educating themselves about all aspects of green buildings and new green credentials. In addition, homeowner and homebuyer demand will create a market for professionals that understand sustainability.