Sustainable Living in Real Estate – The Way Forward to a Brighter Future for Us All
Sustainability is No Longer Just a Buzz Word
With a beautifully diverse ecological system that our Maui island community depends on for food and our quality of life, as well as increasing demands on our natural water resources, forests, landfills and with temperatures and energy rates getting higher, sustainability is no longer just a buzz word – it’s a vital necessity towards a brighter future for us all.
What is Sustainability?
Sustainability is a way of co-existing together in harmony with our natural environment to ensure the ongoing balance and order of life.
It’s about looking at the way your life and actions affects not only yourself, yet others in our local community and our greater environment on Maui — and taking conscious responsibility of those actions to create a positive impact — now and for the future generations to come.
Why is Sustainability Important?
Simply put, when we don’t care about sustainability and how our life choices and actions directly affect the world around us, it greatly deteriorates our surrounding natural ecosystems, placing our ongoing individual and social survival (with basic needs for air, water, food and energy resources) and quality of life at risk.
Caring about sustainability is crucial in order to protect and ensure the ongoing well-being, survival, and mutual prosperity of our entire island community and the environments and resources of which we all interdependently rely upon and share, for the greater benefit of us all.
How Does Sustainability Apply to the Real Estate Industry?
Specifically in regards to our own personal, social and environmental impacts with where and how we are living independently and as a community, the real estate and housing market is a huge industry that has far-reaching effects and implications on the balance of our local environment and resources, as well as will be the most affected by the impacts of climate change.
While it’s impossible to predict the future, the consequences of rising temperatures, sea levels, and increasing flood-prone areas could result in adjusted home values, higher property taxes, and insurance premiums.
With this in mind, it’s important to be socially conscious and aware of these impacts in the real estate industry, not only to our environment, yet also as a way to safeguard and protect yourself, your family members and your home investments, now and in the future, by taking more sustainability-focused and energy-efficient lifestyle choices and actions today.
How Can I Adopt Sustainability in Real Estate?
Living more sustainably isn’t just about benefiting our environment and safeguarding our future; it also financially saves you money by being more energy-efficient, as well as potentially increasing the appeal and value of your home to local buyers.
This is apparent as not only are the builder and consumer interests and adoptions of sustainable living and building practices rapidly growing, yet recent studies from The National Association of REALTORS® NARGreen Designation show that 94% of home buyers rate energy efficiency as an essential factor to their home buying decision.
For New Buyers and Investors
Specifically for new buyers and investors searching for a new home, you can look for what is known as a ‘green home.’ A green home is a house that is designed to be environmentally sustainable, focused on the efficient use of energy, water, and building materials.
You can also research, factor and evaluate the climate/environmental impacts on the area you are looking at purchasing in, with the past history and analyzing future predicted outcomes, so you can be aware of what you need to potentially avoid as a risk in your purchasing decisions or you can safeguard and prepare for ahead of time.
For Current Homeowners
For current homeowners, one of the numerous ways you can start is by choosing to switch to solar to power your home and heat your water. Adding a solar-powered water heater is energy and tax-efficient, as well as has added benefits with rebates.
You can also look at hiring builders, architects, and contractors knowledgeable in green homes and sustainability to assess and upgrade your home, or take courses at the Sustainable Living Institute in Maui that will help you build your own sustainable buildings or make renovations.