2020 Trends on Sustainable and Green Home Design

Sustainability is quickly becoming one of the more important topics for both homeowners and builders embarking on new projects. Sustainability works to achieve a few things, such as avoiding the depletion of natural resources, as well as the ability for the home to maintain itself long term. With energy costs continuing to rise, creating a more sustainable home can be very attractive to many people, as sustainable homes use less energy overall and are generally more comfortable to live in.

Sustainability can take on many forms, and it can mean different things to different people, with many people putting more of a focus on green building and others looking at it from a more economic standpoint. In light of the current economic crisis brought on by the pandemic, coupled with the fact that more people are spending time at home, sustainability is taking on a new look for many people. By investing in sustainable design, you make your home more comfortable to live in, while also lowering your potential financial burden for the future.

There are many aspects of sustainable design, and while most will pay for themselves in time, it’s important to take a look at current trends before investing to help maximize your potential gains. Looking at what the current trends are for sustainable homes and design can also help give you a view into what the future of this field may look like.

Fixr reached out to top experts in the construction industry for their Single-Family Home Trends Report for 2020, which included some questions about the trend of sustainability. They shared some thoughts on current green trends, as well as where they think the trends are going in the coming year.

Middle Aged Homeowners Most Likely to Invest

who invests in sustainable and green home

When asked which groups of homeowners were the most likely to invest in sustainable design, experts responded that it was a mix of older Millennials at 44%, Gen Xers at 37%, and younger Millennials at 15%. Given that the oldest Millennials are approaching 40 this year, with most of Gen X in their 40s and 50s, this makes sense because these are the ages most likely to own homes and to be in a position of upgrading them. Younger Millennials are still in their mid-20s, so while Millennials as a whole are more likely to pay for green features, it does make sense that it’s the middle-aged homeowners who are the most likely to be making the upgrades right now.

Most People Believe Green Design and Sustainability Are the Same Thing

difference between green and sustainable

Experts were asked whether their clients understood the difference between green design - materials and practices that have less of an environmental impact - and sustainability - avoiding depletion of certain materials. Most experts felt that their clients did not see any difference between the two, while many others also felt that their clients believed the two to overlap significantly.

While it’s true that sustainable design can be green, it doesn’t always work in the other direction. Anyone looking to improve their energy usage may want to focus on sustainability, while those looking for healthier options for both themselves and their immediate environment may want to put the bigger emphasis on green materials.

Minimizing Energy Consumption

most popular sustainable features for home

Experts were asked what features homeowners are most likely to invest in when it comes to sustainable design. 58% answered that minimizing energy consumption was going to be the top trend.

This makes sense in a world where energy costs continue to rise each year. By minimizing energy consumption as a whole, you lower your energy costs. Minimizing energy consumption can take on many different forms, including tightening the building envelope and investing in more efficient appliances. One thing unites them though, and that’s the ability to have these types of improvements pay for themselves through lowered energy bills over the years.

Green Construction Methods Lean Toward Sustainability

most popular green construction technology

In addition to a focus on minimizing energy consumption, experts also felt that their clients’ biggest goal in green construction is to create low energy homes. These are properties that can save homeowners a lot of money over the lifetime of the improvement, while also being better for the environment. In this instance, green construction and sustainability definitely fit together.

Tight Building Envelope to Prevent Energy Transfer

most common way to prevent energy transfer

One way to minimize your energy consumption is to prevent energy transfer, or loss of the energy you use to heat and cool your home, to the outdoors. There are many ways to go about this, from increasing insulation to preventing air leaks. 44% of experts responded that they felt a tighter building envelope was the best method for stopping energy transfer. Tight building envelopes help minimize air leaks and help create a healthier interior living environment at the same time. This in turn lowers energy bills and helps create a more comfortable home.

Green Insulation Tops Experts’ Lists

most popular green home elements

In addition to tight building envelopes, most experts felt that homeowners would be more likely to invest in green insulation over other green design elements. Insulation is important to preventing energy transfer, and using a greener insulation, like one that doesn’t let off potentially harmful VOCs the way that foam insulations do, can mean that your home is both greener and more sustainable at the same time.

Smart Homes to Gain Traction

most popular home design 2020

Experts were asked what they felt would gain a lot of traction in the coming year in terms of creating a more sustainable home. They gave many mixed answers from solar panels to using materials that would last long term. One thing that many experts were united on, however, is that smart homes will be part of that future, with 49% answering that they thought smart homes would take off in 2020.

Smart homes in general are on the rise, as technology begins to improve and become more accessible. Smart home technology can help sustainability by giving homeowners better control over their energy usage, which may help explain this trend.

Create a Greener, More Sustainable Home

Sustainable homes are often healthier, more comfortable, and cost less to heat and cool. These attributes mean that this type of home design is growing in popularity with more homeowners considering sustainable and green design as part of their next build or project. Keep these trends in mind for your next project to help get a better sense of what your choices are, and to help create a more sustainable property for the future.


Yuka Kato

Industry Analyst