The US as a pioneer for ecological home building? For many Germans this seems unbelievable in the face of the ongoing debate on global warming and the resistance to the Kyoto Protocol. But latest studies reveal that not only do US citizens believe in climate change, there is also a growing ecological awareness in the US as well as a readiness to invest in energy efficiency.
Many American home buyers are consciously seeking energy-efficient properties. In Austin, for example, a promising and pioneering pilot project is underway. The Texan metropolis with its dynamic flair and countless start-ups and hi-tech companies not only attracts many students, but also the wealthy. Thus it is not surprising that this is also the location ofWhisper Valley, a district consisting exclusively of climate-neutral houses.
There is enormous interest among potential buyers in this ecological building project. A house in Whisper Valley costs between 160,000 and 300,000 US dollars and represents a capital investment that is both climate-friendly and future-oriented. “Zero-energy houses are experiencing an unparalleled increase in value”, explains Lorenz Reibling, Head of Taurus Investment Holding in Boston. Pioneers of this trend benefit not only from an innovation premium, but also from Austin’s tax incentives for home owners. A solar energy system costing 10,000 dollars is subsidised to the extent that it only costs the owner around 2,000 dollars. Other technologies, too, are being promoted in energy-efficient homes.
The market for ecological home building is closely connected with smart home technologies. The properties in Whisper Valley are fitted with smart technology and an ultrafast fibre optic network by Google Fiber. The result: annual savings for the owner of between 130 and 145 dollars. The intelligent networking of the entire district using latest technological standards allows the settlement to be completely carbon-neutral.
“Not only is the US real estate market backed by a stable economy, it also offers significant development potential for property investments due to the shift in ecological thinking”, Reibling elaborates. For many Americans energy efficiency has become a decisive factor when buying a home. According to a study among 10,000 households by the market research institute The Demand Institute, 71 % of households stated that energy efficiency is very important to them. 90 % stated that they had already taken measures to reduce energy costs. In combination with strong laws on energy standards, this explains the undimmed prospects for zero-energy homes.
German Concepts in the Texan Trend City
A perspective that was clearly recognised by the project manager of Whisper Valley, Axel Lerche. The German founded the company Ecosmart, which joined forces with real estate financing company Taurus to implement the 2 billion dollar building project. Finding investors did not pose a problem. The company works together with a few very wealthy families, who finance the project.
German technology, too, is in high demand. Bosch is supplying the geothermal heat pumps, while Rehau is developing the geothermal grid and BASF is insulating the houses with the new HP+ wall system. Fine prospects, especially if one considers that ecological home building is slowly but surely becoming the standard. “Whisper Valley will be the blueprint for at least ten other projects of this kind in the US”, estimates Lerche. A green “thumbs-up”!
If green technology and smart living are important to you too, you can rely on Engel & Völkers as a competent and well-positioned partner at your side. We have proven expertise in this future market and will gladly advise you, should you have any questions. Visit our website to learn more about our services.