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Feature Article


Written By: Lawrence Herzog
Published By: Real Estate Weekly
Article © Copyright Lawrence Herzog

Green is the new gold standard for outfitting a home, according to a Royal LePage Eco Home Survey. The survey, conducted last October, found that environmentally friendly home improvements have become a tremendous factor in home buyer shopping lists and those improvements are likely to generate a solid return when it comes time to sell.

Of 1,266 Canadians who participated in the survey, 88 per cent said they want features that are easier on the environment in their homes. The next time they buy, 72 per cent responded that they"ll be looking for environmentally friendly home improvements.

The survey also revealed that 63 per cent said they would pay more for an environmentally friendly home. Of them, 62 per cent also answered that they"d be willing to pay up to $20,000 for green features, while another eight per cent said they"d be willing to spend $20,000 or more on a home deemed green.

The findings reflect what members of the REALTORS" Association of Edmonton are hearing locally. When shopping for a home, their clients are increasingly seeking greater energy efficiency and environmentally friendly features.

"The mood of Canadian homebuyers and sellers is changing with the times " environmental concerns are impacting the decisions people are making about their dwellings, " says Phil Soper, president and CEO, Royal LePage Real Estate Services. "From simple energy conservation efforts to the more elaborate use of organic building materials, the environmentally conscious mindset that our agents are seeing in clients is not a passing trend."

More than half (51 per cent) of all survey respondents say they are very concerned about the environment and think we are in dire need of change some are not as quick to implement changes. When asked, "What is preventing you from making your home more green"" more than half (54 per cent) of respondents said it was too expensive to do, while 15 per cent said they have no idea where to start.

"Canadians need to know that going green can certainly be within their means and within their reach," Soper says. "There are many simple and affordable measures that can lead to big gains for the environment, and many of the practices can actually save homeowners money."

The most popular green modifications that poll respondents already implement in their homes include switching from regular light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs (74 per cent), adding window and door sealers to prevent heat loss (61 per cent) and switching to high efficiency washers and dryers and using low flow water fixtures (54 per cent). Some homeowners are taking bigger leaps, installing leading edge technology like highly energy efficient windows made with low-e glass that decreases heat gain in the summer and keeps the house warm in the winter.

"Few people realize that residential, commercial and institutional buildings represent more than 33 per cent of our total greenhouse gas emissions," said Elden Freeman, executive director of the National Association of Green Agents and Brokers. "While it is unreasonable to completely reduce carbon dioxide created by homes, there are various practices homeowners can implement."

Those measures include installing high-energy efficient windows, doors and insulation, high efficiency furnaces and appliances, and insulated and programmable hot water heaters. Water-conserving fixtures such as showerheads and toilets significantly reduce negative effects on the environment and reduce utility bills.

When asked, "What is the most influential factor for making your home more or completely green"" 35 per cent of respondents cited they are doing it for their children so they inherit a healthy planet; 32 per cent are doing it for the cost savings; and one quarter (25 per cent) are doing it for their health and to have peace of mind they are living the best they can.

Mature Canadians edge out younger ones when it comes to recycling. Respondents aged 55 and better are more likely (77 per cent) than those aged 18 to 34 years (67 per cent) to engage in traditional recycling practices.

More women (31 per cent) than men (18 per cent) are going green for their health. Conversely, more men (41 per cent) than women (23 per cent) cite cost savings as the most influential factor for making a change. Seventy-eight (78 per cent) believe there is a direct link between the unseasonably warm temperatures and decades of the world's lack of awareness about the environment.

The poll was conducted on-line with a national representative sample of 1,266 Canadian survey respondents aged 18 year and older. The results have a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 2.75 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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