There are many reasons to buy an environmentally sound home. The first is you want to make a positive effect on the environment. The second might be because environmentally friendly homes tend to be built airtight to maximize energy efficiency, which saves money on heating and cooling bills. Or perhaps it’s because the resale value holds well on homes that are equipped with eco-friendly features. The only problem is how do you know you’re getting what you’re paying for?
Unfortunately just like any other business, there are honest people and dishonest people. Homes that have been built to stringent environmental standards sell for more money than those that don’t. Be sure you know what you’re getting for by checking the list below.
1. Is the home LEED certified? LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. They have really set the standard for home and commercial buildings. Homes and buildings are rated on a series of factors including minimizing impacts on ecosystems and water resources, water and energy efficiency, materials used, indoor air quality, proximity to public transportation and more. There are different levels of ratings that go up to platinum. Ask for documentation to prove LEED certification.
2. Details. The details of a home are often very telling. If a house has been built or renovated to look environmentally friendly, you may see things like low-flush toilets or energy efficient lighting and use of windows. However, smaller details can have a larger effect. Ask about the carpeting. Is it made of natural fibers or is it industrially produced with hazardous chemicals? Ask about the paint. Is the paint low VOC or non-VOC, meaning without Volatile Organic Compounds? What material is the roof made from?
3. Ask what materials the home was built with. Was it built with reclaimed or repurposed materials, or were they all new? Are the materials local or were they imported? This will help you determine the carbon footprint of the home.
4. Look at the outdoors. Are there water features that use unnecessary water? Are the plants and grasses native to that area? If not, they may be more prone to weeds. Native plants and grasses also help attract wildlife indigenous to the area and help them survive.
5. What is the neighborhood like? Is yours the only environmentally sound home, or are other homeowners nearby like-minded? If they aren’t aware of environmental impacts, you could find yourself inhaling insecticides and pesticides in the summer as people attempt to control weeds or insects.
Before buying any home, a home inspection is recommended. With eco-friendly homes, look for a home inspector knowledgeable about environmental trends, building and features. They will better equipped to spot homes that are only superficially environmentally sound.