Our company builds new homes in the suburbs of Ottawa. And I, like many others, am concerned about climate change, and our household continues to modify our lifestyles to try and reduce our own carbon footprint. Occasionally people ask me if building homes in the suburbs is incompatible with reducing carbon emissions. Some new homes are very large: don’t they take more energy to heat? Don’t people have to drive much more? Will gas rising gasoline prices cause fewer people to choose new suburban homes?
May of these issues are beyond the control of homebuilders. There are many responses to these questions. I’d like to highlight two of them: New homes today, especially Energy Star homes (all of Tartan’s homes are Energy Star® qualified), are very well insulated. They are far more energy efficient than even a 10-year old home. Likewise with the appliances and furnaces. The energy bills of a 2011 homes will be, on an average square-foot basis, lower than any homes built previously.
Regarding driving, I don’t think gas prices will changes peoples home-buying decisions. They will change people’s car buying decisions. The automobile industry is slowly becoming aware of this, and is starting to produce smaller cars with much better mileage. They are really only scratching the surface, however. A little bit of research will show that it is quite easy to build cars that are considerably more efficient than a Yaris (my car) or a Cruze. It’s a matter of marketing and an economic incentive for the carmakers. In my view, the next ten years will see a wave of really efficient cars coming to market. While gas prices will certainly go up, the cost of driving -- on a per-kilometer basis -- will not, as more and more people opt for energy efficient cars. And people will continue choosing to live in new suburban homes for the many benefits they provide.