The real estate and construction industries can play a major role in helping to save the environment and helping to build a stronger economy for Barbados. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in developed countries alone, 16% of greenhouse gas emissions are generated from the production of the energy used in houses. Our homes can be a greater source of pollution than our cars! This is primarily because the energy needed to power our homes comes from the burning of fossil fuels at power plants, which contributes to smog, acid rain and global warming, all of which can harm our environment, affect our tourism product and affect our overall standard of living. Simply put, the less energy we use in our homes, the less air pollution we generate. And that’s definitely a good thing for all of us and for our economy.
There are opportunities for energy efficiency all around us in our homes, but there are even more opportunities for savings if consideration is given at the design and building stage. Simple, cost-effective solutions such as using heat-reducing material on roofs and walls, using energy-saving light bulbs, installing ceiling fans and solar water heaters and using natural gas and natural gas ovens can make a big difference over time.
Besides saving the environment, ‘greening’ your home can save your pockets as well. That’s right! Going green isn’t just a great way to help preserve the environment – it can also save you money. This is how the real estate and construction industries can help build a stronger, more environmentally friendly economy. ‘Going green’ can help property owners reduce long-term energy costs through the decrease in actual power consumption and also through direct tax benefits. In Barbados, property owners that factor in certain green features into their properties can benefit from tax incentives designed to encourage green construction practices. Individuals can claim a maximum of BB$10,000 per year for up to five years, while registered businesses can claim up to BB$25,000 per year for five years. Saving the environment while saving money is simply a good business move for property owners.
A highly effective way for property owners to ‘go green’ is through the use of photovoltaic array systems which use solar panels to convert sunlight into usable electricity which, in turn, can provide significant benefits. While photovoltaic array systems can initially be costly, they are generally considered to be sound investments, as properties with these systems generally retain higher market values than those without. For individuals and families seeking to utilise their property as equity, or for property owners who intend to sell their property at a later date, the tradeoff between the initial investment for the system and the increase in property value can be worthwhile. Studies show that the cost of installation of a photovoltaic array system is usually recouped within ten years of initial investment but with the technology rapidly improving, this timeframe is consistently decreasing. Even prior to recouping the investment, property owners still benefit from a range of incentives. For instance, while the primary benefit of the system is the buffer it provides against fluctuations in global oil and other energy costs, if your home produces excess electricity, there is the option to sell the excess energy for use in the National Grid. Imagine that! Instead of paying an energy bill every month, you’ll actually be receiving money as a producer of energy.
If you’re building a new home, talk to your architect about having your structure designed to accommodate green features such as a photovoltaic array system. Your real-estate professional can provide practical guidance on how best to design your home to take advantage of technological innovations which can minimise your home’s environmental impact.
Be sure to also talk to your banker about how best you can structure your mortgage to include the installation and design costs. If you’ve never considered green financing, or if you’ve thought about it, but need more information, contact a financial institution that offers a mortgage package with a green component.
Saving money while saving the environment is good business, Barbados.