A panel from the local building and design industry got together to discuss sustainable housing efforts and its impact on the environment. Building material advancements have provided new homes to operate at maximum efficiency rates. With more homes than ever being constructed in the Cape Fear Region, contractors have put standards in place to support this effort and some homebuyers are making sustainability a top priority.
SCOTT BYERS: How important is sustainability and environmental responsibility in the buying decision?
CRESS BELL: I don't see a lot of domestic constructed or manufactured product. From the environmental side, there's two things to consider. One — codes are driving us to be more efficient. For instance, if you have a 36-inch range incorporated into a home design, we have to introduce air to the house automatically. Because of this, homes are being built very tight and efficient — it's a great thing. For instance, all our light bulbs and fixtures are LED, and we have tankless water heaters that only heat water on demand. Window technology and insulation have changed to provide more efficient heating and cooling of homes. Houses are more efficient than ever, and that is a big part of our discussion with clients. I think to a certain extent, like a lot of things, efficiency is becoming more and more expected.
SCOTT LECHTRECKER: Years back "green" was the term for environmental efficiency. Everybody wanted the green house and LEED certified. Now you just don't hear that as much because efficient home building has become commonplace.
SCOTT BYERS: Are buyers asking what building products are made of and where they are coming from?
CEE EDWARDS: When green homes and LEED certified became popular, it was so expensive. And shortly after, the recession hit. Our company was forced to take green certified cabinets out of our showrooms. With cabinets, the green trend hasn't been as popular with our clients since the recession, so we're not having clients ask about the materials used or where they are produced.
JENNIFER KRANER: I'm LEED accredited and I see it more on the commercial end of things. With commercial design, sustainability is an important part of the project. On the residential side, we see a lot of people wanting to go local. They would rather have a local wood contractor who installs the floors and not even think about an engineered wood that's not local to our area. Especially on the furnishing side of our business clients want to work with a manufacturer in the Carolinas rather than sourcing out of the area. North Carolina is great place to be in the furniture industry and I think people like the fact that the product is milled and made closer to home.
SCOTT LECHTRECKER: While I don't get into the selection side of things as much, LEED and green are not terms I hear much of anymore. However, I do hear the trend to keep it local.
CHARLIE TIPTON: I'm absolutely seeing sustainability and environmental concerns weigh in during the buying process. I do think it has become somewhat of an expectation, but we've also done such a good job as an industry of just advancing our techniques. I think we do a good job promoting it and it's another one of those areas where our biggest competition is resales, so we're quick to make sure we're educating buyers who come through our door of all the advanced construction techniques, better installation values, and all the other home efficiencies that lead to lower utility costs. I think we get in front of it, which is probably why we don't get as many questions asked. Helping educate the homeowner about justifying costs and supporting value is an important piece of our industry.
Johanna F. Still - Jan 17, 2022
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