There are a number of great things people can do to help ensure that their next home is as environmentally friendly as possible. We'll go over the top tips to help you make sustainable choices and ensure that your home is an asset you're proud to own.

1. Find an Agent with Green Designs

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) and Ecobroker have both created Green Designation programs, which will help your real estate agent assist you in finding green real estate that follows the most efficient sustainable practices. NAR has also built a green business network that allows individuals to find eco-friendly businesses, ranging from architects, designers and energy auditors to appliance vendors, attorneys and title companies. Find a Realtor with a Green Designation and they will be able to help you find a low-impact home that meets all your needs.

2. Alternative Energy Homes & Real Estate

One of the best green real estate resources to look for is homes with alternative energy already installed, like solar panels, wind turbines or geothermal systems. Many homes are coming pre-fit with these great technologies, making it easy to own green real estate at no extra effort.

If these features are lacking in your region or your dream house does not have alternative energy pre-installed, look at homes that can easily be modified to include non-electrical energy sources. For example, solar panels do best on south-facing roofs, while a geothermal system will require adequate yard space. Research alternative energies to find the solution that's best for you and then ensure the real estate you view can accomodate it. Also include a budget outside of your mortgage for installing alternative energy as soon as you take possession, to ensure you are reaping the benefits right away.

3. Retrofit Simple Energy-Efficient Upgrades

Technology has made massive strides in the last decade and dozens of home-energy innovations have been made. In addition to replacing old appliances with Energy-Star alternatives, there are a number of more budget-friendly upgrades that can be made. To get started, you can draft-proof windows with caulking, install low-flow showerheads and replace halogen light bulbs with energy-efficient LEDs. Once implemented, these simple features do not require any modification to your daily routine and have been proven to save money.

4. Research The Neighborhood

Most neighborhoods have their own distinct style and vibe, which attracts like-minded individuals. Choosing a city or community that is known for being eco-friendly will help you find relevant real estate resources with greater ease. If you're unfamiliar with the area, your real estate agent will be able to let you know what neighborhoods are most likely to suit your needs. Concentrating your search for a home in these areas will help you in meeting your energy-saving goals.

Overall, green real estate is a fantastic investment. In addition to saving money on monthly energy costs, eco-friendly homes tend to be worth more than those high-impact alternatives. Environmental concerns continue to increase the demand for sustainable initiatives that have been proven to work, making green homes a hot commodity across the globe.