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Green building trends to look out for in 2015

By Karla Lant     Feb 5, 2015 in Business
It's a fact: green building is not a craze or a fad, but the future of construction. And this is true for both new construction and renovation/retrofitting.
This shouldn't surprise anyone; as “Green Multifamily & Single Family Homes: Growth in a Recovering Market,” a recent report from the World Green Building Council explains, research shows that consumers are willing to spend more to get green homes. Since green homes provide healthier living environments, better resale potential, and lower utility costs, who can blame them?
So what are the hottest green building trends we will see this year? According to the World Green Building Council, here's what to expect.
Net Zero Energy Homes
The focus on energy efficiency is going to be more and more important, and this will prompt a rise in demand for net zero energy homes. Alternative energy sources for homes like photovoltaic cells are going to receive a lot of attention in 2015. In recent years more net zero homes have been built, and as these projects prove their feasibility, more clients demand them. The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy also certifies these homes so consumers know what they're getting, making the buying process more secure.
Healthful Homes
Efficiency isn't everything; consumers also want beauty and health from their homes. Many green building materials can give them all three features. This means that there is a high demand for green building materials that support healthful households. Natural building materials like stone countertops and local lumber for flooring and cabinetry are aesthetically appealing and have no negative health impact; these materials are already high demand and we will see this demand remain strong. And demand for features such as living roofs covered in greenery to protect the home from runoff problems and radiation will also increase.
Affordable Green Construction
Year by year green building is becoming more attainable for everyone. In 2014 we saw a burst of interest in “micro” homes and reuse of pallets, crates, and other items to make very small living spaces for low prices. This year the trend will continue, but modified, as we see more green modular homes, pre-designed for efficiency and affordability. We will also see a continued rise in retrofitting of existing housing stock, making more housing affordable for more people.
Passive Construction
Passive homes rely less on AC and heat, instead regulating temperature naturally based on their design; this is possible when well-insulated homes are designed to make the most of natural light, shade, and wind. Landscaping design also plays an important role in this kind of construction. The passive construction trend is already booming in the EU, and although the trend will be slower to pick up here in North America, we will start to see it gain favor here in 2015 — probably in commercial buildings first.
Designing for Drought
As the southwestern United States, especially California, continue to experience serious drought conditions, we will see more conscious water conservation in the designs of 2015. This will include more use of xeriscape where appropriate, composting toilets, low-flow toilets, graywater recycling systems, stormwater runoff reduction systems, and water-saving indoor fixtures.
This is an exciting time for construction, and for retrofitting or building a new home. Green building trends offer some amazing opportunities to ensure a healthful, efficient home, and this year we'll see even more options than we have in the past.
More about Green building, green office building, US Green Building Council, new home construction, retrofitting