(NaturalNews) Demand for homes built with an eco-friendly design is steadily growing, according to architect Michelle Kaufmann, founder of home design company Michelle Kaufmann Designs (MKD).
MKD, founded in 2002, has previously designed and built homes for families on an individual basis. But the company now has plans to build 45 town houses in a San Leandro, Calif. Development, as well as 40 in Las Vegas and 42 in Denver. Kaufmann views this as a sign that "green" homes are moving from being perceived as a novelty into the mainstream of the housing market.
A variety of features can make a home eco-friendly, many of them embedded in the design. The strategic placement of windows, for example, can improve the lighting and air circulation in a house and thus reduce the need for electric lighting as well as artificial heating or cooling.
Other features, such as solar panels, can be made more cost-efficient by adding them to the house at the time of construction. According to the major development companies Centex Homes, the Grupe Company and Lennar Corporation, which are increasingly emphasizing the eco-friendly design aspects of their houses, built-in solar panels are now being viewed as a status symbol by home buyers.
According to Kaufmann, a well-designed home can reduce energy use by as much as 30 percent and water use by 40 percent. In addition, MKD reduces the waste from the construction process by 50 to 75 percent by building the homes in a factory and then shipping them to the home site and bolting them to the foundation.
By building the houses in a factory, Kaufmann says, remnants from pieces like two-by-fours can be reused instead of thrown away. In addition, the home can be built faster, with electricians working side-by-side with other contractors. Even taking shipping time into account, factory-built homes can be completed 30 percent faster than conventionally built homes.
Due to shipping costs, the final cost of an eco-friendly home from MKD is about the same as that of a regular house.