Where is the Future of Green Housing Taking Us?

future green housing

In recent times, some industry sectors have begun to feel concern that the green housing sector could be drying up. After a less-than-stellar turnout at the recent Housing Design Awards hosted by the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association’s (GOHBA), some could be forgiven for wondering if the green revolution is drawing to a close.

GOHBA executive director John Hebert bristles as such notions, arguing that on the whole, the green sector is doing well.

“Green building generally in Ottawa is thriving,” he said.

Herbert admits, however, that a niche market has evolved that relies more on creating value through design and development rather than through any clear ‘green’ features.

future green housingThus, while the boom hasn’t created a bust, it has certainly created a lot of confusion for home owners and industry members.

According to Roy Nandram of RND Construction, while many have a basic understanding of some green features and technologies and their benefits, the many messages being sent out create a very convoluted green building landscape.

“People are aware of greening and might have some knowledge of insulation and good windows, but they don’t really understand it,” Nandram says.

Terms such as energy efficiency, eco-friendliness, sustainability and Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) are all associated with green design, but each hold their own unique connotations. As a niche market opens up, niche market pricing comes along with it, creating the impression that green building and developments are only for the very wealthy. This is further backed by the notion that IEQ represents an overall heightening of living standards rather than a uniquely environmental concept, leading to an image where green is equated with expense.

This is, however, why consumers with real knowledge of insulation and strong IEQ considerations are now strongly motivated by energy efficiency ideals above all else. In the housing sector in particular, passive design, energy efficiency technologies and appliances and a reliance on natural elements such as lighting and climate control now reign supreme as the most popular green housing features.

While the terminology may be confusing, energy efficiency – and the economic benefits it creates – remains a key drawing card for consumers in creating a nationwide green built environment. While this does not promote a holistically green mentality for green interior design in the residential sector, it allows the sector to continue to evolve, so that one day truly sustainable living ideals can be fulfilled.

By Emily D’Alterio
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