Congratulations, Planet Earth! Your inhabitants have survived yet another trip around the sun and are barreling toward April 22, the one day a year where we all celebrate you. That’s right, it’s almost Earth Day! Here at Redfin we understand that it is easy to Google “how to make my home more eco-friendly,” but it’s much harder to put it into practice. If you need some motivation to make your home a little “greener,” look no further than these 10 best cities for green homes!
Redfin data scientists analyzed real estate listings for all of the homes in Redfin markets that sold between March 2014 and March 2015 and identified those that mentioned one or more “green” features. The 10 cities with the highest percentage of green homes sold made our list.
What exactly counts as a green feature in a home? Green features include solar panels, low-flow faucets, dual-pane windows, energy-efficient appliances, environmental ratings and certification programs such as ENERGY STAR®, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and local programs like “Built Green” in Washington state.
In addition to being kinder to Mother Earth, our analysis found that these green homes:
- had a median sale price that was $52,500 higher than homes without green features;
- were mostly built in the 1960s and ’70s; and
- were slightly larger than non-green homes, with an average square footage of 1,765 vs. the 1,588 for other homes sold.
So, without further ado, let’s put on our eco-friendly and 100 percent biodegradable party hats and celebrate the 10 cities with the largest percentage of green homes sold over the past year. We’ve also pinpointed the three best neighborhoods for green homes in each place, so load up the kids into an emission-free Nissan Leaf and take a guiltless drive through any of these green neighborhoods this Earth Day.
The City of Brotherly Love gets the blue ribbon when it comes to purchasing green, with 33.4 percent of homes sold over the past 12 months containing a green listing description. In the Squirrel Hill neighborhood, green homes are selling at a median sale price that is 45 percent higher than the median sale price of a home without green features.
Its name may be Orange County, but another color comes to mind for 2014 home sales: Green features were found in 26 percent of those homes. In the neighborhood of West Floral Park, the art of going green is in full bloom, with many of the area’s midcentury homes having undergone significant energy-efficient updates. The natural landscape of the neighborhood doesn’t hurt either! “West Floral Park is brimming with mature trees and lush vegetation, which keeps the homes here naturally cooler during the hot O.C. summers!” explains Redfin Agent Kim O’Hare.
For those looking for an Earth-friendly home that will also save some green of the cash variety, hoof it over to Ventura County and check out the Greenwich Village neighborhood, where the median sale price of a green home is 5 percent lower than that of a home without green features. Or check out the cute seaside community of Oxnard Harbor, another top-ranking neighborhood that comes as no surprise to Redfin agent Dana Murphy. “This community is filled with compact, updated condos that require very little energy, plus the residents here are cooled by the Pacific Ocean breezes all summer long, eliminating the need for power-hungry air conditioners,” Murphy says.
In Allied Gardens, most homes have been updated with energy-efficient appliances and solar panels, and many homes in the area also feature drought-resistant landscaping, says Redfin agent Lisa Padilla. When it comes to new construction, many homes in San Diego are now being built with solar panels and other energy-efficient features.
Fenway’s high green marks have a lot to do with new development, according to Michael Doten, a Redfin agent in Boston. Buyers want green features, and developers are offering them in office spaces, rental apartments and condos in the area. “Because other central neighborhoods of Boston are already very much developed, there are not a lot of opportunities to build green homes or put green features into the existing infrastructure. Fenway is one of the few areas in Boston that has the opportunity to build green and buyers are excited about it.”
Redfin agent Marti Cook says she is seeing a big emphasis on eco-friendly homes throughout Fresno, with both homeowners and builders getting in on the green game. “Many of the older homes are being renovated with the environment in mind,” she says. “I’m seeing a lot of solar panel roofs and solar panel tiles. People are updating their old windows with new triple-paned windows to help insulate the heat and cool. They are also putting up awnings and installing structural elements in their yards, like pergolas, to help provide shade. Drought resistant landscaping is also becoming more popular.”
Redfin agent MaryDell Penney was not surprised that Orlando made the list of green cities: “Older homes in Orlando neighborhoods are slowly being renovated and homeowners are frequently selecting energy-efficient appliances and environmentally friendly systems. There is also a fair amount of new construction across the city and builders are increasingly incorporating more green features and appliances to meet buyers’ demand. Many of the new housing developments are designed to have a lot of green space and room for urban gardening, even cows!”
Located in the South Tampa area, the neighborhood of Palma Ceia has been undergoing a bit of an upgrade when it comes to energy efficiency. The area, which is well-known for its brick streets, old-growth oak trees, boutiques and shops is getting a conservation overhaul with a common green update: new windows! “In the days before central A/C systems, homes often had transom windows, which are great for letting breezes through but incredibly inefficient if you do have an A/C installed,” says Redfin agent Brian J. Walsh. “Homeowners are starting to swap those out for top-of-the-line double-paned windows that are tinted slightly, so that they reflect some of the heat of the sun rather than let it into the home.” The energy savings can be amazing – in some cases, cutting a homeowner’s energy bill in half.
Most homes in the Fan were built prior to 1930, but those homes are getting updated with heating systems and water tanks that are more energy efficient, says Redfin agent Warren Teller. “The Fan is a continual hot spot in Richmond because of its proximity to downtown and VCU,” Teller says. New condo developments are also adding to the area’s green. “The new construction has given builders an opportunity to put green features in the buildings,” he says.
The Arts District just may be the coolest neighborhood in L.A., and now it’s one of the greenest, too! Redfin agent Alec Traub credits new construction and renovations of the neighborhood’s industrial-chic lofts for the recent change to a greener lifestyle. “Many of the lofts for sale here come fully equipped with highly efficient, modern appliances and, with a Walk Score of 87, it’s easy to live a low-impact lifestyle,” Traub says.
But hey, there’s no need for cities and neighborhoods that didn’t make the cut to turn green with envy. There are easy ways for anyone to go green and increase the value of their home while saving money at the same time. Check out the tips below, then read Redfin agent Julie Jacobson’s 15 tips to make your home more green, because more green is always a good thing.