A number of measures are attractive to people seeking to buy a house that is good for the environment. Polls have shown that people would prefer to buy a house that was eco-friendly, and there is greater interest at the high end of the market.
Walls and what lies within
Walls should be insulated and windows energy-efficient. A seller might boast that their house is environmentally-friendly because it uses compact fluorescent lightbulbs, while the appliances in the kitchen date to the 1970s. Toilets, showers and sinks should be low-flow.
The materials used
The materials from which a house is constructed go some way to determining its impact on the environment. They should be recycled where possible. Vinyl is the most environmentally-unfriendly plastic around, containing substances such as phthalates and dioxin which can cause serious health problems, and so linoleum is preferable. Cork, bamboo or reclaimed wood are better for the environment than carpet or hardwood. These regrow faster, and carpets usually emit harmful compounds. Formaldehyde-free cabinetry does not release toxins. Recycled-content glass countertops require less resources to produce than shiny granite.
Solar panels save money
Solar panels will save money. A radiant floor heating system that pumps hot water through tubes beneath the floor is more efficient than the traditional arrangement and causes less dust to circulate. On-demand water heating consumes less resources than keeping 40 gallons or more hot, 24/7. If windows face south, the sun is better able to provide natural warmth, and if the windows are wider, they allow in more light.
Location, location, location
Location can make a home better for the environment. Environmentally-aware buyers will look for a house where schools, shops and places of work are within walking or biking distance. The need for multiple car journeys a day will negate any green features a house possesses. While so very attractive, lush, green lawns require much water and fertilizer, which can enter the water supply. If you wanted a lawn for your children, choose a home near a park.
If you really want to minimise the effect your home has on the environment, it is better to live in a flat, as these require less resources in building. Some estate agents specialise in finding green housing.
Timothy Chilman used to work in IT. Once, in Sydney, he was turned down for a job because he was “too flamboyant” (“Someone who wears green tartan suspenders to a job interview probably isn’t going to fit in here”). Timothy then became an English teacher. University students in Bangkok complained that he was “too enthusiastic” and company students in Prague complained that he was “too theatrical.”