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April 23, 2012

Green Homes Here to Stay as Demand for Energy Efficiency Grows

- — The hottest trend in home design is not limited to wow-factor kitchens, master-suite bathrooms with soaking tubs or the family-friendly great room. Instead, a solid trend in home design is one where homes are built with energy efficiency and sustainable materials in mind.

That means home building has gone green -- probably to stay.

According to the National Home Builders Association, the green building market has increased dramatically from 2 percent of homes built to energy-efficient standards in 2005 to 17 percent of homes built in 2011. The American Institute of Architects reports similar numbers, with an increase of requests for energy-efficient products and energy management systems, including solar panels and geothermal technology.

This growth is expected to continue rising to an estimated 30 percent by 2016, says Kevin Morrow, senior program manager for Energy and Green Building at the NAHB.

"There is growth potential everywhere as costs go up, commuting times go up and people start looking at living in their homes longer," Morrow explained. "People are looking at what is the actual cost of the home, rather than just the purchase cost. You don't have to be a tree-hugger to benefit from green living."

Across the country, "going green" is different in every region and most consumers are looking for immediate and personal benefits like paying less for utility bills and using more environmentally-friendly materials.

Of course in every movement there are the early adapters who embrace the latest advances. That's true in green home design, too.

"Not every new home across the country has solar panels or wind turbines but more and more do," said Morrow. "There's a lot of interest in geothermal technology because you're tapping into the consistent temperature of the earth. That's more and more interesting to people."

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