High energy costs, government regulation, tax incentives and other factors are driving growth in green construction and homebuilding as homeowners look to save — money, energy, and the environment — however they can.  What does that mean for the HVAC sector?  Jennifer Goodman of EcoHome Magazine identifies the biggest trends that are guiding the direction of green construction — and how these industry changes will alter the work of HVAC and other service techs.

Goodman identifies energy efficiency and “green remodeling” as the most influential trends in green-minded new construction. “For new construction, industry watchers predict that ultra-efficient building techniques such as the rigorous Passive House standard or net-zero-energy home designs will continue to gain momentum with environmentally conscious consumers. Passive House dwellings are so energy-efficient they require very little mechanical heating and cooling, even in extreme climates.”

So where does that leave HVAC businesses? For homeowners who aren’t ready or willing to take the plunge into no-emissions, look for customers to turn to energy-saving appliances, such as solar water heaters, to trim their monthly utility bills.

In addition to more energy efficient building techniques and appliances, square footages will likely continue to trend downward. Goodman writes that government regulations such as Energy Star 2011, which went into effect on Jan. 1, will push more homeowners to downsize. (Tumbleweed — the “tiny house company” — offers miniature homes that cost less than $20K).

A move toward healthier building materials may also drive changes in the ventilation systems HVAC techs encounter. Energy recovery ventilators and filters, for example, consume less energy than standard ventilation systems without sacrificing air quality. And homeowners will likely monitor those savings with new products on the market, such as Microsoft’s Hohm and GE’s Nucleus, which allow for easy tracking of home energy use.

A variety of factors are steering homeowners to reduce energy consumption and shed burdensome utility costs. But there’s plenty of opportunity for the HVAC companies that understand what their customers want — and why.