Sustainable Home by Envirohaven®

Looking for a Sustainable Home? The HERS Rating Is Your MPG Rating- Part One of Two

Why aren’t we demanding an MPG rating for our homes? A 2014 Neilson survey  found that over 50% of us are willing to put our money where our ethics are and pay more for products and services that we feel will support a sustainable lifestyle. The Green build movement has been leading the construction industry recovery. Yet, there is not yet a ground swell of support to demand that we have any and all information necessary to make the most informed decision possible regarding the largest single purchase we make in our lifetime, especially if we seek an energy efficient Sustainable Home. Although many marketing studies show that we are buying what we believe to be energy saving components to go inside our homes,  what do we know about the overall efficiency of our home before we sign on the dotted line? When you are shopping for homes, do you know much will one home will add to your monthly expense budget, compared to others you might consider?

When buying a car today, the first thing many of us look to is the MPG number prominently displayed on the window sticker. We want to know that number because, among other reasons, it helps us determine how much of our monthly budget the cost of gas expense is going to consume. When buying our homes, the efficiency of the structure itself is the determining factor for how much of our monthly budget our utilities are going to consume.  How do you know when you buy your home if the utilities will cost $400/mo or $100/mo.? For most of us, that additional expense can take a big bit out of our ability to pay for leisure activities, college or retirement savings, or even our ability to afford to live in the home. The appraisal required by our lenders when we seek a mortgage, does not take utility expenses into account.

As the benefits derived from building and living in a sustainable home and/or green-build home become more evident to more people, the problem of assessing added value becomes more evident as well. Although the Appraisal Institute (AI) now offers over 200 classes in green and sustainable home valuation, only two appraisers are listed as “Green Certified” in the Truckee Meadows. One of those now works for the State of Nevada.

As people search for new homes, they seek to find homes that rise above the norm. There are many green indicators being used in real estate, making the search very confusing for consumers. Voluntary ratings such as the National Home Builders Green Build (NAHB), or the US Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED, mostly for commercial buildings), and the US Government’s  Energy Star Certification. None of these are a national standard. All of the aforementioned programs have different standards for their ratings. All the aforementioned certificates that can accompany a home, but all these labels are based on an all or nothing approach. All require certification of  (as well as payment from) builders and one or more subcontractors (HVAC). But none of these labels give the homeowner/buyer a litmus test result of just how efficient the home will be, or how much a homeowner/buyer might expect to spend monthly on power, heating and cooling compared to homes of a similar size.  None of these labels gives us the most important indicator that can be used when comparing homes for purchase; which home will cost less to maintain at a reasonable level of comfort.

Interested in seeing a standardized “MPG” rating for homes, please share this post.

Stay tuned for Part 2.