by David Anderson, Licensed Architect and LEED AP BD & C
Energy consumed by all the buildings in Chicago accounts for 70% of the city’s total greenhouse gas emissions and a substantial portion of these buildings are the homes where we live. To help counteract this, the Chicago Climate Action Plan calls for several agencies to come together and ramp up retrofitting homes in the Chicago area with a 25 million dollar Department of Energy grant.
This topic was part of the discussion at the USGBC Illinois Chicago Branches presentation on the emerging residential green real estate market. The event was held at the Green Depot, a smaller version of a Lowes or Home Depot for sustainable building materials located at Fullerton and Pulaski in Chicago. The program discussed a variety of topics including different residential green rating systems including HERS and LEED for Homes and marketing green homes to prospective buyers.
Part of the outcome of all of this is the creation of a Green MLS where real estate agents can market new or retrofit green homes to clients. The MLS or Multiple Listing Service is assembled by the Real Estate Board as a shared database of virtually all the homes for sale in the United States. Homes have already been listed on the Green MLS in parts of the country for several years and more areas are picking up on this trend. Preliminary studies conducted in Portland and Seattle have shown that green certified homes take less time to sell and fetch higher prices than their non-certified counterparts. An important statistic as the housing market continues to struggle with a glut of homes for sale in the wake of the financial crisis.
Hopefully this represents the start of a shift where sustainable homes will become part of the mainstream marketplace instead of being unique “only house on the block” entities. The public building sector has led the way up to this point with an ever increasing number of new buildings and existing building retrofits seeking green certification with both building owners and municipalities seeing the long term value of building sustainably. Reaching greenhouse gas emission reduction goals by 2020, 2040 and beyond will become more of a reality with housing doing its part.