It's hard to live around Santa Cruz and not develop a deep love of nature. The beautiful and breathtaking landscapes invite reverence and respect at every turn.
As such, Santa Cruz residents and the city's government have a long-standing commitment to making local real estate as eco-friendly as possible. Part of that effort is making our homes more environmentally friendly.
Many people want to buy a "green" home in Santa Cruz, yet there's still a lot of lingering confusion as to what exactly "green" means. Are you interested in learning how to spot an eco-friendly home, and what the benefits of owning such a home might be?
Well, we've got the information you're looking for right here:
What Is "Eco-Friendly" Anyway?
We hear a lot of terms related to this topic, like "green", "eco-friendly", "sustainable" and so on, but these can mean different things to different people.
For some, they mean saving on bills, for others it's about making buildings healthier, for others it means helping the planet. Whatever you're looking for, an eco-friendly home is probably going to mean more than just any old building with solar panel perched on top. So, here are some factors to consider:
Materials - The first step is where the building materials are sourced from. Reclaimed or sustainable sources are best. For example, choose bamboo flooring over carpets. Next is insulation, which includes things like walls and windows.
Appliances and Utilities - Many builders already offer Energy Star certified appliances, but if you're buying an existing home you'll probably want to check. Then, make sure the home has an up-to-date and efficient heating system. Solar panels are definitely important, but you may want to look into spending a bit more for panels that have smaller environmental impact across their entire life-cycle.
Passive Design - Is the home oriented to make best use of the sun and prevailing winds? South facing is usually what you'll want for maximum sun exposure, but local terrain might make a big difference.
Landscape and Area - The home itself is only part of the story. Gardens can be a huge drain on energy and resources, so look for one with a significant amount of native plants, water-absorbing hard surfaces, and other drought resistant features. Next is the general area. Sure you may have the most energy efficient house around, but if you're commuting for 2 hours everyday by car, that won't count for much in the bigger picture. Check the neighborhood's walkability score - is there public transport, are basic amenities nearby?
Many of these factors may not be readily apparent when you first look at a home, so you'll need to do some investigation. One route is to get an energy audit from a professional, which could cost a few hundred dollars. You could also ask for documentation or certification, which is good if available, but shouldn't be a deal-breaker if it isn't. Going through utility bills is another clue, but ultimately the best course of action is to go in knowing what you're looking for, and asking a bunch of questions along the way.
Having a real estate agent that cares about eco-friendly living is another big plus, and their local experience will prove invaluable.
The Benefits of Going Green in Santa Cruz
So why all the care about being eco-friendly? Well, if you've read this far, you probably have some idea about why you're interested in a green home. But, if you're still unsure, here's a quick rundown of the benefits:
Comfort - An energy efficient home is more likely to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter. And an eco-friendly garden (for example) is usually less maintenance than one with a big lawn and many non-native plants.
Savings - Energy and resource efficiency means less bills. Less bills means more money in your pocket at the end of the day. That's a hard one to beat.
Health - Opting for more natural building materials will often mean doing away with toxic materials, improving the air quality inside your home.
Helping the Planet - This benefit may be less tangible to the average home owner, but that doesn't make it any less important. For many, doing their part to preserve the environment is the biggest reason to get an eco-friendly home.
Finding an Eco-Friendly Home in Santa Cruz
Luckily, Santa Cruz already has a lot of builders and homeowners who care about making homes that are eco-friendly. So, you're likely to find something that'll provide a good basis for making positive changes of your own.
If you're interested in going green with your next home purchase, make sure to contact an experienced real estate agent with deep local knowledge of green home trends in Santa Cruz to help you find what you're looking for.