Hannah Wilber

The great Rick Fedrizzi recently noted that “our homes play the biggest role in our lives. They bookend our days… Imagine if all people started their days from a sustainable home, with a native awareness of efficiency and efficacy; of better health and resilience. Imagine if we used our homes as the base camp for healthy living, in every aspect of our lives… They could be the touchstone for being mindful of sustainability for our present and future.”

In typical Fedrizzi fashion, there's a lot packed into that inspiring, almost poetic excerpt. Let's make sure we're all on the same page concerning the scope of the opportunity green homes present, and take a moment to unpack the logic behind a statement like Rick's.

Contagious behavior

When you think about it, our homes are the biggest, most intricate self-portraits we will ever create. From major fixtures to tiny knick-knacks perfectly placed on your mantle, each decision you make about what to include and exclude from your personal space tells a part of your story—the desires, tastes, ideas and values that contribute to your unique identity.

Why does this matter to the sustainability movement? First of all, we need as many advocates as we can possibly gather. There's no denying the facts: preserving our environment for the generations yet to come is going to take an all-hands-on-deck effort. The more sustainability champions we have visibly broadcasting their green commitment through the choices they've made about their own personal base camp the better.

Second of all, home is where we shape and reshape our fundamental habits. It's also where we come together with our family, friends and neighbors, providing opportunities for our habits to rub off on others. Insisting your family properly recycles and composts at home means they are more likely to do so at school, the office or out in public. Having features like occupancy sensor-operated lights gives your guests living proof that reducing your impact on the environment is well within the realm of possibility, once you put your mind to it.

Money talks

Green homes also give ample evidence supporting the business case for green building, and they do it in a language we can easily understand: money. On average, LEED-certified homes use 20 to 30% less energy than homes built to code, translating to noticeable savings on utility bills each month.

That's not all. A home's green label has been shown to add an average 9% price premium, meaning green homes are valued higher than conventional ones. These tangible financial benefits provide an entry point into the broader green building movement by plainly demonstrating the merits of making more sustainable choices, and hinting at the possible benefits of transposing these choices to the places we work, study, heal or play, too.

Just the beginning

Given all this momentum-generating potential, the growth we're witnessing in the green homes sector is cause for celebration for sustainability activists everywhere. To date, over 150,000 residential units have earned LEED certification around the world, while in the U.S. alone the green share of new single family homes has grown from just 2% in 2005 to 23% in 2013. And it isn't stopping there—in their overall Dodge residential construction forecast, McGraw Hill Construction estimates the green market share could reach 26-33% by 2016.

One-by-one, people are catching on, making healthier, wiser and more cost-effective decisions about their most personal spaces. No wonder Mr. Fedrizzi is so excited about what the future holds.

Looking for more green homes knowledge? Take a look at this article summarizing the positive effects green homes can have on our health.

For a deeper dive into the rise of the green residential market, check out our latest LEED in Motion report.