Earth Advantage Institute Makes Earth Day Predictions For Housing Ten Years From Now

The Earth Advantage Institute promotes a green building standard from the Northwest that combines the energy requirements of Energy Star with healthy home attributes like air quality, environmental responsibility and and resource efficiency. I thought their New Years predictions (here in Jetson Green) were aggressive; now they really step out on a limb with an Earth Day list of eight predictions for the industry ten years out. Some of them are interesting, some of them are wishful thinking, and all of them rely on the possibly optimistic view that there actually will be an industry building single family houses in ten years.My comments in italics, for discussion purposes:

Newly built homes will use one third the energy that they do today. Progressive builders are already going far beyond the current standards to build "net-zero" homes that produce at least as much energy as they consume over one year. The techniques used in building these high performance homes will filter down to the mainstream rapidly as homebuyers see how easy it is to create energy efficient and even furnace-free homes using readily available materials and emerging technology.

Newly built homes will use one third the energy that they do today. Progressive builders are already going far beyond the current standards to build "net-zero" homes that produce at least as much energy as they consume over one year. The techniques used in building these high performance homes will filter down to the mainstream rapidly as homebuyers see how easy it is to create energy efficient and even furnace-free homes using readily available materials and emerging technology.

Builders are already complaining that the new Energy Star proposals, taking energy savings up to 20%, are too extreme. Are builders going to take it to 66% voluntarily? And I don't think that anyone building passive grade furnace free homes would call it "easy."
Buying decisions will be based on better information about the "life cycle" impact of products. New studies are underway on the total environmental cost of building materials, from raw materials collection to manufacture, installation and eventual disposal or recycling. Homebuyers will also see data on durability and maintenance of those materials. Earth Advantage Institute recently completed a lifecycle analysis of residential building materials and practices for the state of Oregon's Department of Environmental Quality.

Not a chance, not in America, One might as well say there will be no Wal-Mart. I suspect that price and fashion will still rule.

The rising cost of clean water will drive most people to stop using it to water lawns and flush toilets. Many homes will use graywater (domestic wastewater from any source except toilet and garbage) and rainwater for these purposes.

Gardens yes, toilets, I doubt it. Otherwise nobody would buy all those horrible blue dyes and chemicals that people put in their toilets to keep them squeaky clean.

Lenders will demand energy efficient buildings because they are more stable investments. Sustainable homes are built durably to protect the homes from moisture, excessive heat and cold, and airborne toxins - all of which can cause unhealthy conditions for occupants or decomposition of building materials.

See Good Luck Financing Your Dream Green House

Communities will become denser, making better use of pedestrian walkways, bicycle paths and mass transit. 2010 New Partners for Smart Growth conference documented the growing preference among today's young people and today's older citizens to live in denser, more convenient urban environments offering easy access to cultural activities, dining, entertainment and green space.

Oh, I hope so. Especially if in ten years walking, bicycling and mass transit are the only ways to get around affordably.

Three more points at Earth Advantage.
I think I may do my own list.

Tags: Energy Efficiency | Energy Star | Green Building | Housing Industry | Oregon

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