There are many things that can make a home green, navigating all these factors can be difficult which is why it helps to have a knowledgeable realtor as a guide.
Certification – New construction, especially condos, are often built to green certifications such as LEED and BuiltGreen. These third part certifications establish a list of standards that must be achieved in areas such as energy and water efficiency throughout the design, construction, and operations of the building. Unfortunately, finding green certified homes can be difficult in Vancouver since, unlike in some American cities, certification is not included in the MLS search.
Older homes – Following the motto reduce, reuse, recycle, sustaining or restoring an older home is always a good environmental solution. There are numerous upgrades that can be offered to older homes to increase their energy efficiency and reduce your footprint. Read That Old Green House or visit Home Greening Resources for more information.
Materials – Is your home built or being restored with locally sourced, reclaimed or sustainable harvested materials? Are the materials used safe and toxic free both in the home and at point of manufacture? What is the lifespan of these products?
Energy and water efficient –Whether it’s old or new construction look for homes that maximize energy efficiency. This can come in the form of density, living in buildings with multiple suites allows for sharing of resources such as heating, water, etc., and reduces loss and waste, or through technologies such as heat reclamation devices, heat pumps, solar energy or hot water, and good old insulation. These simple features can reduce the energy needs of a home, helping the planet and your pocketbook.
Location, Location, Location – This old real estate adage is more true than most of us realize. The closer we live to our work, school, service and amenities, the less we need to drive and the more we live our lives walking or cycling to our destinations. Check out your home’s Walkscore for more information.
Transit and Bike Accessibility – Metro Vancouver is known as one of the world’s best cities for cycling, and transit in this city can be exceptionally convenient if you are located along one of the major transit routes. When choosing a home, look for one that is convenient for both cycling and transit.
Green space – Access to open and natural spaces is essential for many of us to maintain a high quality of living. Reports also show it is important in child development , air pollution mitigation, community development and more. Look for homes with green yards and gardens, close to parks and playgrounds.
Safe and Healthy Living Environment – How close are you willing to be to local pollution sources such as industry and highways? How well ventilated is your home, is there potential for mold? What else might exist in the home and neighbourhood that threaten our health and the health or our children?
Food sources – What are you options for local sustainable, healthy food. Does the home have gardens, a yard that could be converted, or fruit trees? Where is the closest farmer’s market, community garden or local grocer?
Work with a realtor who understands your social, economic and environmental priorities and can help you navigate the complexity of green home purchase.