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Greening real estate – it’s win win

by Richard Manning

When Kermit first lamented that “it’s not easy being green” it was, after all, 1970 and the first season of Sesame Street. The world is a rather different place today and whilst frogs may still struggle with the realisation of their own dignity and self worth, it is, in fact, much easier to be green – certainly in an eco-friendly sense.

The general level of consciousness that exists concerning matters of sustainability has increased exponentially over my lifetime. What was once considered the province and concern of a ‘hippy, tree-hugging’ minority is now fundamentally part of the mainstream.

Businesses and companies espouse their green credentials as an indicator of their credibility in the modern world. As such, environmental concern is a political, social and consumer force of global significance. Environmentally friendly products, techniques and sensibilities are no longer boutique; sustainability is no longer trendy, it’s ubiquitous. (We’ll leave any discussion of wind farms out of this!)

New designs and technology

Building companies now specialise in ‘eco-friendly’ design and construction. Sellers and purchasers are concerned if a property is solar-oriented to best effect and/or uses solar energy within the home.

They are concerned with the amount and type of insulation (from roof to wall to underfloor), the windows and the type or heating and cooling used in the property. The consumer is also far more conscious of the sustainable nature of living in a property and given the price of consumables such as electricity, this includes the sustainability of paying for those ongoing costs.

New types of glass can improve a home’s overall energy rating by as much as 2.5 stars

Much of the energy loss from a home is through windows, but specifying new types of glass can improve a home’s overall energy rating by as much as 2.5 stars. Low-e glass varies from normal clear glass in that one side of the glass has a special metal coating known as a low emissivity, or low-e coating.

Low-e glass is a type of insulating glass that cuts the transmission of heat and UV radiation. Some types of low-e glass do a very similar job to double glazing at lower cost. Double glazing using low-e glass will perform even better. Laminated low-e glass also insulates against noise.

Incandescent light globes are a thing of the past and building codes around the country now require a significant percentage of domestic light fittings to be fluorescent or LED to reduce energy consumption.

LED lights consume a fraction of the energy of halogen lights. They have become more affordable and their tiny dimensions have given architects and builders plenty of new design opportunities.

Because you never have to change a light bulb (well, maybe every 25 years) LED downlights can be installed in difficult-to-access spots, such as very high or pitched ceilings, and pretty much forgotten. Some models do not require a transformer, which makes them even easier to install in tight spots.

Do these things matter in the sale and purchase of real estate? Absolutely. These factors can be the defining factor in a sale (for the purchaser) and the difference between a good price and a premium price (for the seller).

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