Sustainability has taken center stage in architecture in the past decade, but however energy- and water-efficient 21st-century home features may be, many buyers and renters still prefer old property to its younger siblings. The reason for this paradox is simple: new houses are yet to stand the test of time, while time-honored buildings have already shown they have good bones, reliable supporting structure, safe installation and plumbing, and solid foundation. In addition to that, houses with a couple of decades under their belt have a distinct stylistic charm and often boast more space (both outdoors and inside) than new ones. The appeal of time-tested homes to modern home buyers has given rise to a new trend in real estate industry: green rehab projects aim to give old homes a new, green cloak and a sustainable future.
In Eco-flips, green rehab companies aim to boost sustainability of a time-honored home without compromising its stylistic or structural integrity. A standard home greenification process begins by an energy audit to establish the current state of the property and identify points which can be updated to minimize its environmental impact. Based on the audit findings, the Eco-friendly house flipping procedure can include replacement of outdated HVAC by an energy-efficient alternative, insulation and plumbing upgrades, as well as installation of double- or triple glazed windows to minimize heat leaks during cold months. Conventional lighting is often swapped for LED, water-saving add-ons are installed to faucets, toilet tanks, and shower heads, and energy-efficient appliances are added in place of old, electricity-devouring ones. After the renovation, a new audit is conducted to establish eco-success of the flip: in most cases, the results are nothing short of remarkable.
Although the costs of such a demanding renovation are higher than the price of a quick non-Eco fix, green rehab projects are gaining popularity fast, because environmental safety is not the only perk of a greenified home. The bonus points of an old home in Eco-safe attire include lower utility costs and lower health risks over the long term. For instance, low-energy features and water-saving updates such as dual-flush toilets, flow-reducing faucet aerators, and low-flow shower heads can reduce household utility bills by over 50%. At the same time, materials that contain allergens, toxins, and hazardous chemicals such as lead and asbestos are replaced by their clean counterparts, so a homeowner who opts for a greenified home will also get a few health boons on top of utility savings and the Eco-conscious label.
If improved health, long-term financial savings, and eco-safe living are not enough of a reward to sway you to give rehabilitated home serious consideration, location certainly is. Green rehab is particularly popular among homeowners who have property in hot urban locations: an eco-update allows them to considerably increase the value and marketability of their real estate and be quickly reimbursed for the investment though sale or rental. Location is a timeless asset in real estate, and many home-seekers will gladly pay extra to get both premium location and low-cost utilities in a single housing unit.
Public ambivalence concerning Eco-friendly tags is the only obstacle to large-scale green rehab buzz. Unfortunately, many companies in the real estate sector use green labels as a catchy marketing tool, but few green promises are backed by actual environmental value. The era of green-washing in real estate, however, should soon see its timely end, as authorities across the globe are taking active steps to curb false and misleading advertisement claims and make sure that property sold as green is truly worth the title.
With green rehab in the game, sustainable architecture has gained a worthy opponent. Thanks to Eco-flips, even old homes can have a safe future, and a bright and green one too.