Residential Real Estate Sustainability Practices in Northern Virginia

What green features are builders prioritizing in their designs? What are buyers willing to invest in? Those were just some of the questions that Peter Burke, Executive Master of Natural Resources student and realtor, asked in his most recent study of residential real estate sustainability practices in Northern Virginia.

Builders are key stakeholders in the residential housing marketplace. They receive pressure to build energy efficient homes from federal, state, and environmental organizations, but must also meet the feature requirements of their buyers. Peter surveyed a dozen builders on their primary considerations when building or renovating a home, on buyer demographics, and the most common green features included in a home, among other things. Currently in this region, the primary focus is on energy efficiency and material costs. Findings also showed a fluctuation in knowledge and demands depending on age and gender groups. For example, it was clear from the results that Generation Y and X (born between 1965-2003), were more familiar with sustainability and more likely to add green features to their homes. Buyers in all age groups however, were aware of the energy rating services and certifications available, although indifferent to them.

Municipalities are starting to take a closer look at conserving open space, and in turn requiring developers and builders to consider environmental impact in their plans. Moreover, as the public becomes further aware of the benefits of environmentally sound building practices, it is expected that the demand for green features in residential homes will increase as well. Peter identified several recommendations for furthering the use of green features and appliances, such as creating incentives for residential homebuilders, similar to those offered to commercial ones, and using “Green Labeling” in national and local home listings. Like many new practices it will take a little push by the government and a little pull by consumers to move the process along.

For more extensive information and insight on this study, including a copy of the survey used, please see this Residential Real Estate Sustainability Practices in Northern Virginia report.