Green building is picking up energy.
We're all pretty familiar with green design at a residential level. But green energy is also being used by individual homeowners and renters - in forms like solar panels, or small wind turbines, or even your own generator or oil, propane, or wood stove.
A recent Harvard study looks at the idea of retrofitting older houses to be more energy efficient - and some of the contradictions in that practice. It found that because of tax credits, people spent 10 percent more on energy-related home improvements than they had four years earlier. About 25 percent of home fixes were done for energy efficiency reasons.
Designer Matt Krier, a green-certified professional home builder with Design Group Three in Glendale, has seen his "green" business pick up in the last few years.
"Ultimately now, as consumers, homeowners, we’re far more aware of what options we have and we’re really understanding the impact we have as humans on the environment," he says.
He says the philosophy in green design is to use materials that are already available. Essentially, builders recycle what is at their disposal, rather than buying new materials and generating more waste.
But Krier says recycling materials isn't enough. To really be energy efficient, we as a culture need to shift toward smaller homes, using only what we need in all aspects.
The green revolution and sustainability practices have come a long way since they were introduced in the 1970s. Krier says green design was expensive back then, but current technology has vastly improved, making it more affordable to implement green design.
With increased efficiency, homeowners would use less energy, costing them less money. Krier says homeowners could see a return on their investments in as little as an estimated 10 years. Moreover, if they installed solar panels or other energy producing devices, they could become more energy independent and less reliant on energy companies.
Ultimately, Krier says as homes with increased energy efficiency will sell for more money, green design will become the standard.
"Long-term as I see it, I think green building and LEED certification for new homes is eventually going to be the standard way for homes," he says. "But I think we're a far way from that."