Does Green Certification Increase Home Value?

Written by Jeff Wiblitzhouser, Paradise Found Construction
Updated July 15, 2015
A living room and patio in green certified home
This 1963 Raleigh, N.C., home was remodeled to a Bronze level green certification, which included refinished flooring with a non-volatile organic compound finish. (Photo courtesy of Paradise Found Construction)

It should only take around three to five years to see payback on your green certification investment.

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Buying a home is likely the biggest investment you’ll ever make. For that reason alone, it’s important to consider how to best protect it and get the most return on the dollars you spend. 

Growing market evidence shows that new and remodeled homes that are “green certified” are increasing in value and holding it better than those traditionally built or remodeled.

What is green certification?

Remodeling a home to meet the National Green Building Standard’s [NGBS] certification criteria means focusing on six primary areas: energy efficiency, indoor air quality, water efficiency, site design, resource efficiency and building operation and maintenance. Green remodeled homes can earn Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Emerald certification levels, depending on the extent of the improvements you make.

The best candidates for green certification are homes built before the 1990s, which represent a significant percentage of existing properties. Many of the energy efficient building science techniques and products we have today were simply unavailable, unknown or misunderstood then. As a result, many of those homes lack the necessary updates, contain construction materials that produce off-gassing of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and are energy and water inefficient.

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Older homes like these can be renovated with a relatively small investment, but it’s one you can expect to recoup – and then some – through reduced energy and water costs, greater comfort and improved health, and the long-term value you’ll add to your home. Though it typically costs about $1,000 to have a home certified, some utilities and municipalities offer rebates and incentives for meeting various levels of efficiency updates.

Long-term green investment

It might take three to five years to see a payback on your initial investment, but once you hit that period, your payback will continue to compound. Consider the rate at which energy and water costs are increasing. By making green upgrades, you might save $100 this year, $110 the next and $125 the following. Someone who doesn’t make these investments, meanwhile, will continue to pay spiraling costs.

Lowering the ownership costs of older homes makes them more appealing to prospective buyers. Instead of demolishing these properties and replacing them with homes with larger carbon footprints, we can remodel them to reflect current amenities buyers want. We can make them more sustainable, while at the same time increasing property values.

If you’re interested in your home meeting NGBS certification standards, find a contractor who has experience in the appropriate building standards. Have his or her work certified by an independent, third-party provider who is certified by the Home Innovation Research Labs, an independent subsidiary of the National Association of Home Builders. The appraisal industry is beginning to recognize the value of certification and its importance to obtaining maximum market value and being the differentiator between your home and others on the market when, or if, you decide to sell. 

Not only will these enhancements likely net a higher return on your investment, they’ll also provide a measurable benefit to your overall comfort and well-being. That’s something we all can take to the bank.

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About this Angie’s List Expert: Jeff Wiblitzhouser is the president of highly rated Paradise Found Construction in Cary, N.C., a builder of high-performance and innovative green certified homes and remodels. He is a two-time recipient of the National Home Builders Association Green Certified Remodel Project of the Year Award.

As of July 15, 2015, this service provider was highly rated on Angie’s List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie’s List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.

Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article originally posted on January 27, 2014.

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