Green Building Trends for 2011


As I’ve mentioned before, I get a few newsfeeds and trade publications that are often interesting fodder for my posts.  I recently received the Green House blog from USA Today, written by Wendy Koch.  Wendy keeps up with “green” building and other environmental news.  This particular post was about the top green building trends as reported by the non-profit research group, the Earth Advantage Institute.  The Portland Oregon based group compiles these trends and forecasts based on discussions with builders, architects, real estate brokers, appraisers, lenders and homeowners.  Now that I’ve gotten all of the qualifying info out of the way, I’ll tell you what they say.

Trends for 2011

  • More emphasis on recycling of “greywater” – the waste water from sinks and tubs.  Makes sense to me.  If we have water shortages why not use this to water lawns and gardens?
  • Greater use of appliances that monitor their own energy use.  I haven’t seen many of those, but appliances are always becoming more energy efficient- a good reason to update old appliances!
  • More “accessory dwelling units” or independant backyard cottages that function as rental units, in-law suites or home offices.  I don’t really follow how that’s a “green” building trend, and I seriously do NOT want renters in my backyard.  Grandma and Grandpa- ok.
  • Rethinking of heating and cooling- there’s such a thing as a “passive house” where the insulation in walls and ceilings is so thick and the house is sealed so tightly that the home is heated by the everyday use of the occupants.  Yeah, try selling that idea in Chicago in winter.  Somehow I don’t see that catching on here- but maybe in milder climates.
  • Affordable Green- as with most things, the price tends to come down once the products have been out for a while.  It’s good to see that more people are utilizing recycled and re-purposed products as well as things made from environmentally friendly elements.
  • Sharing and comparing energy use.  There’s a website called Earth Aid ( that lets you track your home energy usage and earn rewards for energy savings from local vendors.  The institute sees more of this occuring through Facebook and Groupon- like sites.  Hmm, kind of interesting and a way for people who are rather zealous about saving energy to compete with others.  Like an “energy geek” type of contest.
  • Community Purchasing Power- the idea behind this is that if a community gets together it can negotiate better prices for say solar panels if it involves many members.  The more that participate, the lower the pricing.  Also not a bad idea.  Kind of like Costco for solar panels or geothermal. 

So which of these trends strikes you as likely?  Do you care about “green” building or are you just concerned with upfront costs?

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