PRINT E-MAIL SHARE
 

10 green luxury home trends

  • 10 green luxury home trends

    | Improvement Center Columnist | October 2, 2016

    luxury homeFor many well-to-do American homeowners the era of pursuing expensive looks with subpar, unsustainable materials (McMansions, I’m looking at you) may be drawing to a close. A good deal of today’s luxury consumers are becoming more interested in protecting the environment and decreasing their carbon footprint. From orchards to sustainable materials to natural swimming pools, here are some of the eco-friendly luxury home trends right now.

  • Natural swimming pools

    | Improvement Center Columnist | October 2, 2016

    natural swimmimng poolAlthough they’ve long since been popular in Europe and other parts of the world, most Americans are just now becoming aware of natural swimming pools and all they have to offer. Natural pools use gravel, stone, and clay instead of manufactured materials like fiberglass or concrete, and rely on aquatic plants as natural filtering systems, instead of harsh chemical additives.  They are composed of two parts: a swimming area and a regeneration zone. The regeneration zone contains aquatic plants, such as water lilies and cattails, that act as a natural filtration system and a sort of water garden. These pools are both beautiful to look at and offer a much lower carbon footprint.

  • Sustainable materials, sourced locally

    | Improvement Center Columnist | October 2, 2016

    stack of reclaimed timberOnce upon a time all builders used locally sourced materials, favoring whatever resources were abundant in the particular region where they were building. The global shipping revolution changed all that. Nowadays, to reduce the energy and resources necessary during the construction process, conscientious builders are once again returning to this practice. Sustainable, earth friendly materials include hardwood floors made from local reclaimed barn wood, local granite and limestone, and paper insulation.

  • LED lighting

    | Improvement Center Columnist | October 2, 2016

    Led lightingAdvances in LED technology have made adaptation a no-brainer for those interested in maximizing energy efficiency. Yes, they are more expensive, often 5-10 times more expensive than old school filament bulbs, but they can last up to 20 hours longer, reducing a home’s carbon footprint and lowering total operational costs over the lifespan of the bulb.       

  • Farms and orchards

    | Improvement Center Columnist | October 2, 2016

    Home orchardThe growing movement towards local, organic produce has made home farms popular among many homeowners, from those with minimal acreage through owners of luxury estates. Orchards are also popular with the eco-luxury set. Citrus or apple trees or even a small vineyard can be great for curb appeal while also supplying greenery, natural shade, and, of course, fruit. With orchards and home farms the farm-to-table concept can be brought right into the kitchen.

  • Green roofs and walls

    | Improvement Center Columnist | October 2, 2016

    Green roofGreen roofs, also called living roofs, reduce heat loss and energy consumption while filtering pollutants and carbon dioxide. While the initial cost of installing a green roof can be double that of a regular roof, a green roof’s lifespan can also be twice as long as a traditional roof because the membrane is shielded from ultra-violet radiation and physical damage.  Many homes have incorporated green roofs for both their energy efficiency and aesthetic beauty.

  • Solar panels

    | Improvement Center Columnist | October 2, 2016

    Solar panelsSolar rooftop panels are no longer a luxury good, with prices coming down and the option of leasing available in some areas, making solar adoption viable for many homeowners who would have never considered the option ten years ago. Aside from being environmentally friendly (solar power is a renewable resource after all), with solar panels a homeowner will rely less on electric companies. In fact, some solar panel owners are even able to sell unused energy to earn a profit. Solar power remains among the most exciting innovations in green building.

  • Radiant flooring

    | Improvement Center Columnist | October 2, 2016

    Radiant heatingRadiant flooring uses hot water pipes to transfer heat, warming your floor and the walls of your home, which warms up the air. They are more expensive to install than forced air heating systems, but much more energy efficient. Forced air heating causes the air near your ceiling to be unnecessarily hot and therefore wastes a good deal of heat. By heating the surfaces around you—floors and walls—radiant heating creates superior ambient temperature. To achieve the same feeling of warmth from a forced hot air heating system set on 70 degrees, you might need to set your radiant floor heating to 67 degrees. 

  • Smart technologies

    | Improvement Center Columnist | October 2, 2016

    Smart home technologyThe eco-luxury homes of today aren’t just sustainable, they’re smart. From smart thermostats like the Nest or Ecobee, to the Roost Smart Battery, a gadget that plugs into any existing smoke or CO2 detector and makes it a smart device. There are also wall touch panels from AMX and others that control a home’s heat, light, irrigation, sound, and more allowing homeowners remote access so energy is not wasted when a homeowner is away.

  • Sustainable landscape design

    | Improvement Center Columnist | October 2, 2016

    Sustainable landscape architectureGrass lawns are ubiquitous in America; around 80% of our homes have them. Rooted in 16th century English and French aristocracy, lawns became a status symbol, popular among the elite. There’s a saying, however: “If your lawn is green, you probably aren’t.” America’s lawn habit currently requires more water than what’s used to grow all the wheat and corn crops in the United States. And lawncare fertilizers and pesticides often run off into gutters, streams, and water sources. Let’s not even get into gas powered lawn mowers (which, by the way, are known to emit 11 times the amount of pollution as a car according to the EPA). Savvy, environment friendly consumers are turning to sustainable landscapes, the basic tenets of which include treating water as a valuable resource through xeriscaping (water wise gardening), native plant selection, conserving materials, preserving and protecting soil, and reducing or eliminating the use of chemicals.

  • LEED certification

    | Improvement Center Columnist | October 2, 2016

    LEED houseLEED certification (which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) has become the gold standard of eco-friendly construction practices. This green building certification program recognizes a project's efficiency standards. Projects earn points across several areas, including materials & resources and water efficiency, then can receive one of four LEED rating levels: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum, the highest level.