The word green gets thrown around a lot these days: green products, green behavior, green thinking. If it’s not green then it’s eco-friendly, sustainable, low-impact, environmentally sound or any number of keywords meant to convey that what you’re doing is better for the world we live in. Despite the hype, most homeowners truly believe that green living is important.
Unfortunately, it’s not always clear which green initiatives are worthwhile and which are merely taking advantage of a trend. In the past, energy efficiency certifications have been left to individual products. Recently, certification companies have emerged to label entire homes as being green. We wanted to cut through the smoke and mirrors and find out if whole home green certifications are worth the money.
Our comment award winners are featured below! Later this week, we’ll wrap up the issue with our summary article.
How Valuable are Individual vs. Whole Home Green Upgrades?
Are whole home certifications the only real way to increase the resale value of your home with green products?
Are some certification programs more respected or widespread than others?
Are whole home retrofits expensive?
What problems might homeowners run into if they try such upgrades?
Are there tax incentives or rebates specifically for whole home green upgrades?
"Green has now become the most overused word in the Home Building environment and I avoid it, much like certifications.
The costs vary depending on the type of certification one elects to pursue – LEED, Green Advantage, Build Green and so on. Each has their own set of requirements and subsequent levels of rating, etc. Many are similar and redundant so whether one is “better” than another is debatable.
I say if it’s what you want to do and if you have the money to do it, then go for it. Otherwise spend your money on what matters. And what matters is making sure a home is energy efficient, manageable and affordable. A home’s energy efficiency is easily measured and can be upgraded for an affordable price. No one wants to buy a home to find out all those “green” features have high and frequent maintenance costs." read more
"While certifications are nice, the most effective upgrades are the ones that create value by saving money while enhancing performance. Having better doors, windows, and insulation can equate to significant energy savings. Newer windows and doors are definitely an attractive feature to buyers. Additional equipment upgrades in ventilation, tankless hot water heat, and energy star appliances also have a great return on investment and will save you money while you use them. LED lighting is also a nice enhancement and will one day be standard in every home. A home automation system that controls lighting, security, and temperature is also becoming more common and saves a lot of money by monitoring usage and controlling excessive practices. Having a home with this kind of technology will definitely net a great return since these kinds of controls and products are the future of energy efficiency." read more
"How about a look at the last year in utility bills? This is as “ROI” as it gets. What about looking to see reports from a “real” home inspector with a thermal imaging machine to see in the walls?
The rating is weak if the install is by unskilled installer. I am a certified trainer for Green Plumbers and I will tell you that products themselves are lost on ignorant installers. Even my training is at the mercy of reality. A home is a system one must understand more than many raters understand. I am not finding fault with rating systems per se, I am suggesting reality is what it is and a previous year of utility bills is as good as many ratings and better than some. I do suggest many “green” things, but am also tired of the word." read more
"Any product that is “certified” has an added cost factor to it. In the current soft residential real estate market, I am not so sure if such certifications are worth the benefit. There may be a time and place for that, however generally speaking this direction does not convince me as a worth-while investment.
There are “green” upgrades that are available on the market, if a home has them, they may seem worth-while, but how they affect things such as utilities that have a direct effect as a ROI needs to be considered." read more
"Buyer beware! That is the saying right? There should be a healthy dose of skepticism for new certifications or promises of savings or being greener than the neighbor. The UCLA study speaks to homeowner’s desire for healthy and efficient homes, of being responsible and living with those choices quite literally. They proved this by consumer’s choice based on labels.
Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, these labels are often directed only at new homes. There are plenty more, the lion’s share of the market, that are already built. This is where we can make the greatest impact, whether or not you are selling your home!
With state incentives found in California, New York and elsewhere, I can’t stress enough how beneficial it is to capitalize on them! Financial incentives for energy improvements will only increase the return on investment. Even without incentives, investing in comfort, efficiency, and health and safety benefits the homeowners now. Label or not, I’m certain it helps with the resale value later. Retrofit a home and make it a high performer? As they say….Priceless!" read more