July 13, 2015

The National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) shared in a webinar format last week the results of its recent study of more than 3300 consumers who either plan to build, or plan to remodel.  The research was focused on what the term "green" means, specific to desirable features for building and remodeling.

As designers, builders, and instructors, it was encouraging to see that home energy efficiency topped the list of "green" building. Oftentimes in planning the finer details of higher-performance homes, the technical nature of it reminds us to ask how far "in to the weeds" we have waded; how far off the "beaten path". It is wonderful to discover that this path of energy efficiency and sustainability is now well-worn and comfortable: so much so, indeed, that folks planning home design and home build / remodel, are willing to dedicate real budget dollars to improve operating performance efficiencies for longer-term gains.

That building durability and resilency was very high on the list, was both surprising and gratifying. For years we have encouraged more-durable home design features here at Smith Mountain Lake, Moneta Virginia:  a beautiful, temperate Blue Ridge region that is typically blessed with quite a lot of rainfall annually. Broader overhangs, roofs with fewer "cutesy" elements (decorations bound to deteriorate faster, given exposure to heat and water), and the paramount importance of intelligent surface-water drainage are three simple areas we explore during design and planning with owners; time and energy that rewards owners for years to come. We are keenly interested in durability, and it is wonderful to see that consumers are now expecting the same from their houses. Novel, isn't it ?  That better building is now "en vogue".  We hope it stays that way.

An additional note about the nexus - the meeting point - of energy efficiency and durability, is worth making here. Energy efficient buildings are not necessarily more durable. It can be very hard work both in planning, and in building, to make them so. For example, energy-efficient enclosures usually mean less heat is flowing through walls, or roof. Less heat, means less energy to dry wall or roof assemblies that may not have been designed or built well. Home energy efficiency and building durability should go hand-in-hand, and sometimes do. But the two are not automatic partners, and the pairing can be messed up rather easily.

The results of this new NAHB study "What Green Means to Consumers" are planned to be released by NAHB in August 2015, through their Builder Books website store. We recommend it (both the study ~ and the bookstore).

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