With all this talk of climate change, it’s easy to forget that it’s more than just a catchy phrase. The earth’s temperatures have reached a historic high, and natural habitats, resources and wildlife are experiencing a rapid decline. In honour of World Environment Day, here are some environmental upgrades that home-owners and prospective buyers can prioritize when purchasing and renovating, to help create a more sustainable future!
What Role does Real Estate Play in Global Warming?
In Canada, heating and electricity make up 45 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. On top of that, studies show that cement alone is the source of eight per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. Real estate is one of the leading causes of climate change, but as technology continues to advance, there are a wide variety of solutions to help create a sustainable future to save our planet.
Environmental Upgrades to Make to Your Home
There are a number of upgrades that home-owners can invest in, not just to drastically reduce carbon emissions, but to save on monthly expenses. Of these, the most impactful is solar panels, which can reduce anywhere between 2-16 metric tons of CO2 depending on the size of your solar system. They are an especially economical option when installed in a newly purchased home, as installation costs are offset over the years by the savings on utility expenses. There are also a number of financing and loan options available to make sustainable homes more accessible to homeowners. Even if you’re looking to sell your home in the near future, solar panels can boost you property value by three to four per cent.
Investing in Energy Star-labelled appliances is another cost-effective option. Replacing old appliances like washers/dryers and refrigerators with energy-efficient ones can help reduce your environmental impact significantly, and save you money on your energy bill in the long run. One of the best Energy Star investments you can make is an energy efficient water heater, which makes up 19 per cent of the energy consumption in the average Canadian household. Because they operate around the clock, they are one of the most wasteful and environmentally harmful appliances in your home. You can decrease your carbon emissions by seven tonnes by switching to a tankless water heater that operates on demand, or by installing a solar water heater to completely minimize your environmental impact.
A unique and sustainable solution to high water consumption is rainwater harvesting. The average Canadian household uses 511,000 litres of water throughout the year, and by harvesting rainwater, the average homeowner could save 30 to 50 per cent on their water bills. Since half of the water we consume is used in our toilets and washing machines, water harvesting is a highly economical choice considering it’s not necessarily ideal to drink or shower in.
Taking the Leap with a Net Zero House
As new developments gain popularity, consider the environmental impact of your next real estate purchase. Net Zero properties produce as much energy as they consume, creating a 100-per-cent sustainable environment in which to live, work and play. Climate change is the world’s most pressing issue, and with only 12 years to remedy the damages and actively work towards a sustainable future, the time for incremental home improvements is long gone.
Converting your home to a Net Zero space, or purchasing a Net Zero Energy property, is the most effective way to decrease your carbon footprint. If you’re looking for a new development, ask your RE/MAX agent to look into Net Zero developers. And if you’re looking at resale properties, ask your agent for Net Zero listings or how you can transform a traditional property to become self-sustaining.