Earth Advantage Institute, a nonprofit green-building resource and research organization, selected its top 10 green-building trends to watch for the next 12 months.

1. Affordable green. In the existing homes market, energy upgrades are now available through new programs that include low-cost audits and utility bill-based financing.

2. Sharing and comparing home energy use. The sharing of home-energy consumption data is becoming more commonplace in social media.

3. Outcome-based energy codes. Under these, owners can pursue the most-effective retrofit strategy for their buildings, but they must achieve a pre-negotiated performance target through mandatory annual reporting.

4. Community purchasing power. Neighborhoods interested in renewable energy will increasingly band together to obtain better pricing on materials such as solar panels and on installation costs.

5. “Grid-aware” appliances fuel convergence of smart-grid and smart homes. These appliances have more sophisticated energy-management capabilities, offering homeowners machines that monitor and report their own electricity usage.

6. Accessory dwelling units. These small, independent units, which can be used for offices, studios or in-law space, are the ideal size for energy savings and sustainable construction.

7. Rethinking of residential heating and cooling. Advances in applied building science in the U.S. and abroad have resulted in homes that are so tightly sealed and insulated that furnaceless, ductless homes are now a reality.

8. Residential grey water use. Benefits include reduced water use, reduced strain on septic and stormwater systems, and groundwater replenishment.

9. Small commercial certification. To encourage more small commercial projects to go green, alternative certification programs have sprung up.

10. Lifecycle Analysis. LCA examines the impact of materials over their lifetime through the lens of environmental indicators.

Source: Earth Advantage Institute,