(This is a Guest Post)
LEED, or Leadership in Energy Efficiency Design, is a program designed to promote green buildings that use less electricity and water. While completely voluntary, LEED certification helps to increase property values while directing environmentally conscious tenants and homeowners to those properties. They have become increasingly popular in Montreal and around Canada.
However, LEED properties tend to carry a hefty premium over inefficient buildings. The housing market continues to limp along, and many homeowners and renters are opting for the cheapest possible deals even as interest rates remain low. Does the LEED program represent fresh opportunities for investment, or is it a novel idea that came along at the wrong time?
One thing that cannot be said of LEED homes and condominiums is that they are poorly constructed. They are designed to minimize energy and water consumption; second-rate materials and building techniques will not suffice. LEED properties are built to last with less maintenance than conventional buildings.
Many people also mistakenly assume that they will have to sacrifice some lifestyle choices to live green. This assumption could not be further from the truth. People who go green can enjoy air conditioning, broadband Internet and hot showers every bit as much as the rest of us. Their furniture can be constructed from exotic but sustainable woods. They can watch movies on their 80 inch televisions without worry.
LEED homes are designed from the foundation up to use less energy and electricity while maintaining the same quality of life. They use improved insulation, thermal materials, and lighting to improve energy consumption. Newer homes also use technologies like tankless water heaters, which require significant electrical work that isn’t cost effective in older homes.
LED light bulbs offer more attractive lighting than traditional incandescent bulbs. LED televisions use less electricity than plasma, LCD, or CRT displays. Improved air circulation combined with high SEER HVAC systems improve air quality while reducing heating and cooling costs.
To reduce water consumption, LEED properties are often designed to capture rainwater for irrigation. Low-flow shower heads and low-flush toilets can save thousands of gallons of water a year.
With a higher construction quality and no sacrifices to living space or quality of life, investors will have to pay more upfront for these LEED properties. However, investors can also turn around and sell or rent them out for a premium.
LEED properties exist in the center of a perfect storm. Environmentally conscious homeowners in Montreal and tenants who believe that they should minimize their personal impact on the environment will want to reduce their energy and water consumption. Other homeowners will appreciate the savings on each monthly bill. Regardless of political affiliation or personal beliefs, most people will agree that green buildings will have some positive impact on property value, energy security, and the environment.
While it continues to struggle, the housing market is showing signs of finally stabilizing after several agonizing years. Montreal condos that follow the LEED standard will be at the front of that recovery as homeowners seek out hyper-efficient homes and condominiums that will cost them next to nothing for utilities. Investors who pick up those properties today stand to make a significant return in just a few short years.
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