Browsing: Real Estate

Bratz Forever? Green Building is Coming, But Slowly

A market can have the behavioral attributes of a young child, particularly when a product you're bringing to it does not offer the immediate gratification of, say, a Roboraptor robotic dinosaur or the Bratz Forever Diamondz Doll. And so it is with green homes in many markets around the country. “Looks responsible,” many consumers say, “but I'm looking for something with comparables.”

Green building will only begin making its way into the main stream in the next 18 months to 3 years. The attention on global warming is helping, and while the first of a series of punches thrown in this fight have all been from the vehicle, its tag team partner – and a strong fighter in its own right – is the building. Buildings, both commercial and residential, have contributed 40% of the carbon dioxide that has created this crisis, and if we continue to build as we have in the past, brats like us will quickly go the way of the dinosaur.

But most Americans do not know what green building is. I spoke with a builder this week who let me go on for about 4 or 5 minutes about two homes I'm starting which received the bronze rating of my local home builders association's Green Calculator. When I paused from my excitement to catch my breath, the builder asked, “What's green building?”

It's certainly not a Roboraptor. Green building is expensive, and it takes much longer than the life of an average mortgage for the technologies and products used in building a green home to pay for themselves. At a green gathering I attended recently, we went around the room introducing ourselves. The room was fled with green specialists of various types, including the builder of America's second greenest home in 2005. When it was my turn, with tongue in cheek I said I was a builder builder who's trying to build green competitive. Of course, the room erupted with laughter.

Green products and technologies are expensive, in part because they're still in the early stages of acceptance. Applying what's called S-curve theory – which says that the amount of time it takes a product to gain 10% acceptance is the same amount of time it'll take that product to go from 10% to 90% acceptance – it could be at least another 15 years before we see 90% acceptance of the products and technologies that will green our homes.

Which means these products and technologies will remain expensive for some time to come. Only when they're at least a third of their way to 90% will production rates produce the economies of scale and the tidal push necessary for their demand and availability.

We will not be brats forever, but we've got to stay the course and stem the tide. And at every chance you get, hand a kid a book on nature.

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Biophilic Design Shy Relation of Green Building

Green building is more than just a trend. An often overlooked part of Green building is what is called Biophilic design. The goal of this sub-genre is to bring the outdoors into interior living spaces, either residential or commercial. The introduction and interaction with natural elements for aesthetic and health purposes is beginning to receive wider acceptance as indoor air pollution becomes a growing concern for urban dwellers and suburban ones who live in air-tight energy efficient homes.

Biophilic design injects real or simulated natural components into living and working spaces to promote emotional and physical wellness. Morning sun exposure, water features, natural vistas through window-walls, sky-ceilings, and greenhouse rooms where plants dominate and restore air quality while providing an indoor forest refugee are some common applications of this recent design extension. Biophilic design is based more in a creative or Zen-like perspective than save-natural-resources Green building. Understanding that nature and natural settings allow humans to relax and is part of our DNA, professors at major universities study ecology and it's effect on our home environments as well as dispositions.

Here are some tips to get a start on Biophilic design in your home.

-Find a room that faces good morning sun and install floor-to-ceiling windows to receive a daily dose of high-powered natural light. Studies show that hospital patients who receive morning sunshine need almost a quarter less pain medication that those with north facing windows.

-Install a sky ceiling in a family or living room. These new ceiling systems mimic full-spectrum light emitted from mid-day skies.

-Place a waterfall or pond with fountain in side a favorite room. Flowing or spraying water adds a relaxing sound to your environment and helps screen out exterior noise pollution.

-Build a green house room with many indoor and outdoor plants, more the better. Put a comfortable chair to use for reading or relaxing in your home garden.

-Use window-walls to allow outdoor vistas in. I have seen homes that installed large glass areas in a well-used room. The increase in natural light and the ability to see from the ground to the sky is welcomed especially in the dark days of winter.

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Building Supply Salvage Centers – Where A Bargain Lessens Your Carbon Footprint

Everyone is talking about buying “green” or practicing the mantra, “recycle, reuse, and reduce”. Different organizations all over the country started to put all these sayings into practice by creating salvage and surplus building supply centers. Typically, builders order fifteen percent more supplies for their jobs in case some glitch shows up in the building process. Instead of throwing away good lumber, excess flooring, or kitchen cabinets, a builder or homeowner can bring them to their local salvage center. Homeowner can even dispose of their older materials when remodeling. Remember someone's trash is someone else's treasurer.

I decided to visit Build It Green !, a salvage and surplus building supply center in Queens, New York (“BIG!”). Since I am always looking for reusable materials for my home, I thought this would be a good road trip. I met with Justin Green, the programming director to survey the salvage center. (It's just coincidence that the center shares the same name as Justin) Justin told me that BIG! was formed when the Durst organization wanted to environmentally dispose of its excess building materials when they built One Bryant Park and its 125 West 31st Street condo development. New York City disposs of approximately 13,500 tons per day of non-fill and demolition materials. BIG! has been in existence for two year and in that time period, this small 17,500 square foot facility with 2 full and 2 part-time employees and trusty mouse catching Jack Russell terrier have sold an estimated 400 tons of building material. As Justin stated, “It is equivalent to taking 150 vehicles off the road.” Pretty impressive.

At the facility, there were yards of doors, Prego flooring, sinks, Jacuzzis, and adequate kitchen cabinets that could fill up a couple of kitchens. In addition, there was recessed lighting, lumber, plywood, MDF, and two stand-up piano needing homes. In addition, BIG! has the most beautiful ornate fireplace mantel with attached mirror for sale for $ 4000. It is obvious it is worth so much more. When I arrived even more kitchen cabinets were being delivered.

BIG! 'S most impressive donation came from a family that bought a 2 family townhouse fully renovated. This family decided to turn the two-family townhouse into a one family home. So, they donated all of the duplicate building materials to BIG !, which included a magnificent German made stainless steel kitchen retailing for $ 70,000. It is sitting at BIG! still in its original wrapping.

Built it Green sells their products at approximately fifty percent below retail. Their goal is to lessening your carbon footprint on the Earth by reusing something that has already been made. I love a bargain so this store is right up my alley.

I asked Justin what were his favorite materials that he received and he told me it was the lumber. He believes that reusing materials that have already been manufactured is the ultimate “green” since no additional resources have to be expired (such as cutting down trees) to create this material.

BIG !, like every not for profit, has its own wish list. They could use a truck instead of renting one, more full-time staff, and a larger facility so they can take more materials. If you can help in anyway regardless to donate or buy, it is one more step towards preserving the Earth's natural resources and reducing the impact on our landfills.

BIG! is just the tip of the iceberg. All over the country there are salvage and surplus building supply centers just like BIG! Each center is unique in its size and what it has to offer. Construction Junction, a 65,000 square foot center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania offers a multitude of building materials and salvage items. Their website contains a catchy slogan, “You can reuse, we can help” reminding you of Home Depot's saying with a matching twist to it. They provide deconstruction services, offer an old window restoration seminar, and give free building materials away to not for profit organizations including women's shelters and senior homes. In addition, they provide low income families discounts to buy their building materials.

If you need building supplies, searching for that treasure you have always wanted, or just need a place to donate your unwanted building supplies or materials, contact your local salvage center. Either way, help do your part to “recycle, reuse, and reduce.” Remember, we only have one Earth.

To find a salvage center near you, visit Building reuse . This site contains both not for profit and for profit salvage centers in Canada and the United States.

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Booming Green Building Market Continues to Grow

Make no mistake: the “green building” market is not only here to stay, but it's also the wave of the future. In just the next five years, the market for buildings that incorporated alternative energy and conservation techniques will increase some $ 10-20 billion dollars. Yet the green building market only constituted about two percent of new construction in 2004. By 2010, that figure is expected to jump to 5-10 percent, which still represents only a tiny fraction of the immunity potential of the green building market.

A recent survey showed that more than 70 percent of the architects, engineers, contractors and building owners interviewed expected a significant increase in their income from green building. Of those surveyed, some 60 percent of those industry professionals are now regularly including green techniques in their new construction projects.

Although they cost a bit more to construct, once the buildings are completed, they can save their occupants 8-9 percent in operating costs vs. conventional buildings, which can add up to significant savings over time. Recognizing the trend, builders, architects, and manufacturers are rushing to get in on the boom, which will very well bring down prices for consumers.

This is no longer just a few environmentally-minded homeowners placing solar collectors on their roofs to heat water. The boom is being driven by giant corporations like Ford, GM, and Adobe, companies that have incorporated green techniques into their buildings to improve their overall bottom line through increased energy savings. That trend proves that green buildings are no longer just a fad, and are definitely here to stay, because if companies can realize a quick return on their investment, they're also quick to jump on the green building bandwagon.

Green building is not just the wave of the future. Green building is also the hottest “new” thing in current construction. There's an organization called the US Green Building Council that actively promotes the use of green building techniques. If you or your company are interested in incorporating green features in your next building project, you'll find lots of information at .

It all adds up to a win-win situation for everyone concerned. The building industry gets increased business, occupants save significant amounts of money, and the environment is affected less and less. And the trend should only gain momentum as new technology makes green buildings even more efficient and less expensive.

Copyright © 2006 Jeanette J. Fisher

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Green Homes More than a Trend

The pulse for green homes has dramatically increased dramatically in the last year. From a low whisper to a roaring engine, green is growing, and it's much more than a trend. With rising energy prices in 2006 to wide spread climate awareness, home buyers are looking to be eco-friendly at home. Green homes are defined as those that have lower than historic levels of environmental impact. Here are some tips on going green.

-Some ways that you can make your home more green: Use building materials from recycled products. Install low-flow shower heads and water saving toilets. Buy lumber that does not come from old-growth timber. Use high-efficiency windows that feature double panes with low-E coatings. Utilize paints and carpets with no or low odor ratings. Recycling building debris.

-Research renewable energy sources that cut dependency on fossil fuels. Solar panels, thermal and wind technology have come along way in the last couple of years.

New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Oregon offer green building tax credits are among many states and municipalities that offer incentives to those involved in going green.

-Green communities feature: mass transit, community infrastructure that reduces miles transported, local health and social services, walk-able options for recreation and shopping needs, and accessible bike paths.

-Lifestyles of the health and sustainability consumer or LOHAS are a significant housing niche that are motivated by values ​​of personal, social and environmental well-being. They form the foundation of the rise in green building.

-Energy efficient mortgages (EEM) or green mortgages are available to home buyers who purchase energy efficient homes. The rational behind these mortgages is the energy savings from a green home is converted to income for the borrower. Some borrowers can qualify for a more expensive home if it is green.

-Look for the LEED certification. It provides assurances that it meets guidelines by the US Green Building Council. The certification is a rating system for environmental sustainability. Buildings are rated on their energy efficiency and consumption, environmentally friendly features and the use of local supplies to cut transport costs and energy use to the job site.

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How Green Is Your Santa Barbara Home And Realtor?

As the Santa Barbara real estate market has slowed in the last 18 months, it makes sense that some Realtors are trying to stand out with niche marketing efforts. One of these niches seems to be Realtors marketing themselves as eco-friendly and green. While I am 100% supportive for anyone with an eye on environmentally conscious behavior (real estate or otherwise), make sure your Realtor is not using “basic green talk” as cursory knowledge of green building simply as a marketing ploy in a tougher market.

Again, I loudly applaud any Realtor that is going out of their way to learn about solar, energy-efficient appliances, geo-thermal pumps, earth friendly design and products, improving indoor air quality, tax credits for energy saving improvements from a homeowner etc . I think intuitively that people who share strong values ​​of being environmentally and socially responsible will often align themselves with others that share the same beliefs. If these beliefs are then shared among parties involved in a real estate transaction, all the better.

For myself as a Realtor, I try to promote all that I can about green building and am always trying to learn more and understand what truly constituents green with respect to real estate. Our industry needs to follow suit with a lot of other industries that are now making strides with sustaining our environment. Example: If a client buys a home that has older wood floors that can easily be sanded and finished, doing this is in my eyes is potentially more green than buying new Bamboo flooring. At first thought, many people respond that Bamboo is a rapidly renewable material and therefore promotes green development. Yes, but if this is shipped all the way across the world from China, the “gerner decision” would probably be to just sand the old wood floors.

As a start for everyone, some of the most basic green actions you can take as a homeowner are using non-toxic paint, trying to used locally sourced materials if you are remodeling (hopefully recycled), adding insulation, installing quality good windows, and using energy efficient appliances and light bulbs.

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Green Homebuilding Really Starts with the Foundation

If we are really serious about building greener homes then we also should consider the carbon footprint of cement, that's right, the concrete under your feet, inside your home, the walkways around it and the deck by the pool too? What about the drive way and sidewalks in front of the house, yep, all that is concrete too. But you ask, I thought concrete was inert, how can it put out CO2?

Interesting you should ask that, as the building industry was shocked too, when it learned that 5-10% of all the CO2 emitted comes from the making of concrete, did you know that? I did not and was blown away by that figure when I read it is in the Christian Science Monitor the other day. But when you think about it, well, it makes perfect sense. You see, the concrete is made of limestone, silt or sand and chemicals. That means there are tractors, conveyors, rock crushers, cement trucks, and some of the sand comes from the Middle East on ships too.

Think of all the concrete in our civilizations, we have roads, freeways, parking lots, sidewalks, storm drain pipes, damns, and even sides of buildings “tilt-ups” are made of concrete. Yes, just think of all that concrete under our feet, inside and around your home. It all has a carbon-footprint.

Well, do not worry because the building industry is looking into solving these problems and reducing the amount of cement used in the foundations, and in Europe, it is reported that they use a lot of carbon eating concrete. Maybe someday they can mix carbon nano-tube coatings to increase the strength of the concrete, reducing the amount used and making it much stronger in the process too?

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Start Green Mountain Living in Asheville North Carolina

In 2007 the preservation of the Earth's natural resources and construction of sustainable communities have become a way of life for many people. Western North Carolina is a magical place where the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains meet. Many residents choose to live in Asheville and surrounding towns like Black Mountain, Weaverville and Woodfin because of the exquisite mountain views, lush forests and clear mountain rivers. Nature's beauty is an integral part of every day in Asheville, NC so it makes sense that protecting nature has become a lifestyle and a community effort.

Make Your Best Effort to Live Green: Every Little Bit Counts!

Living Green means different things to different people and no one is perfect. Every effort made, regardless of how big or small, can make a difference. Imagine if everyone just stopped littering! The world would be a different place. If you are considering the best way to begin a green lifestyle there are a wide variety of options to consider.

Blue Ridge BioFuels – A Local Alternative to Regular Gas and Kerosene

Blue Ridge BioFuels is a worker-owned business in Western North Carolina that specializes in producing and distributing biodiesel to gas stations in the region and biofuels home heat to WNC residents. Currently Blue Ridge BioFuels provides nine area gas stations with a variety of biodiesel blends and has a home heat deliver service. According to Blue Ridge BioFuels “biodiesel is the name of a clean burning alternative fuel produced from plant oils or animal fats … Biodiesel contains no petroleum, but it can be blended at any level with petroleum diesel to create a biodiesel blend.” Biodiesel is not the same as driving a veggie oil car, unlike straight veggie oil (SVO) it can be used in any diesel engine including trucks, cars and farm equipment without any vehicle configurations.

Purchase Green, Eco-friendly Homes and Land Near Asheville NC

How can you find the perfect, green Western North Carolina property for sale? Simply look around. Western North Carolina is full of eco homes; everything from green built real estate developments to energy efficient condos in downtown Asheville. According to the NC HealthyBuilt Homes Program and the Western North Carolina Green Building Council, , there are currently 82 certified HealthyBuilt Homes and 470 more are in progress right now. There are also eco-friendly real estate developments outside of Asheville in small towns like Black Mountain, Marshall and Leicester, NC. Living in a green community usually includes a variety of luxury amenities like a pool, hiking trails, water access and a community lodge. Homebuyers interested in larger, private residences can find green homes throughout Western North Carolina in areas such as Mars Hill, Maggie Valley, Highlands, Burnsville, Sylva and Hendersonville just to name a few.

Living a green lifestyle does not have to be a chore. If you are not ready to drive using alternative fuels or purchase a healthy built home consider what you can do at home now. Purchase energy efficient appliances when you can, compost food instead or throwing it away, recycle clothes and household items at the Salvation Army or Goodwill. All of these small efforts add up in the end and the world can become a healthier, more sustainable place for you and your children to live.

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Trends in Green Building and Sustainable Construction

“Green Building” is a broad term used to describe the design and construction of sustainable and environmentally conscious buildings.

The driving force behind this is to lower our negative impact on the environment and, at the same time, make the buildings we live and work in safer and healthier for us.

According to the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) statistics, buildings are liable for all of the following:

  • 39% of US carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions
  • 70% of US electricity consumption
  • 15 trillion gallons of water consumption

Even though there is still some controversy over the effect of greenhouse gases on the environment, the last two statistics are very important for those of us living in urban areas experiencing continuing growth, especially the American Southwest. With our population expansion, aging water and electrical infrastructure, and shrinking landfills, designing and constructing green and sustainable buildings makes practical sense from a utilitarian perspective.

In fact, USGBC data shows that green buildings use 36% less energy, require fewer raw materials, and divert less waste to our landfills. Furthermore, the “increased” cost of green building is only one or two percent more expensive than a conventional building. This minute difference exemplifies the tangible and long-term benefits of sustainable design, primarily due to the fact that green buildings conserve water and electricity. Thus, while they are more expensive to build, green structures will save money by preserving more energy over time.

Another push toward the green build movement is by local governments. More and more municipalities are adopting the USGBC LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) guidelines for new and restructured buildings. In 2006, at the USGBC Greenbuild Expo, the Mayor of Denver challenged other major cities to see who can have the most LEED® certified green buildings. They are accomplishing this by offering tax breaks to private corporations and mandating sustainable construction for city-funded projects.

This has led to a dramatic increase in the number of sustainable projects built by LEED® Certified general contractors . However, this growth has not come without challenges. Currently, the following issues are restricting the number of green projects being built:

  • Increased demand for green products has lead to long lead times
  • New and unspecified materials are labeled “green” products which are not necessarily certified
  • Building officials are struggling with a steep learning curve on how to evaluate these new products and sustainable building techniques

Despite these difficulties, the USGBC, sustainability advocates, and green building construction management firms are meeting to overcome these challenges.

The LEED® process is constantly under review and continues to adopt the latest codes and products. This includes Standard 189, a new minimum standard for green building. The USGBC is currently developing LEED® 3.0 and working with national code writers to include new products and techniques.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has even rolled out a new initiative called “Sustainability 2030,” which at its roots, is looking to design all buildings by the year 2030 as carbon neutral. The USGBC has even initiated the Green Advantage Builders Certification for contractors to certify their knowledge in green building techniques.

So what does green building mean at the end of the day? It's simple yet profit: Do the right thing for you, the environment, and the next generation. While most companies are concerned with their bottom line, they bought to embrace the idea that energy and water conservation, green building, and the use of “green materials” in construction stands to increase their savings over time while positioning them as a leader in environmental stewardship.

According to the USGBC, we spend 90% of our time indoors. Due to this fact, scientists have identified an increase in allergies, asthma, absenteeism from school, and even work. There have been numerous studies done on post occupancy productivity levels, which have increased within “green” built facilities. Not only does green adaptation result in less sick days taken, but also shows an increase in productivity, job
satisfaction, and in the case of schools, better grades.

So, as we positively affect the environment around us with sustainable green construction, we eventually create better health for ourselves.

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It’s So Easy, Being Green

With oil and natural gas prices rocketing, stoking terror of long, cold and expensive winters, a renewed interest in keeping heating costs under control has been sparked. Homeowner's have an ignited passion in understanding energy saving methods. If you're in this boat, stuck in cold waters, here are some tips for energy saving tricks of the trade.

If you're living in a home with a furnace that's more than 20 years old, you may have already attempted the “buy a sweater” method of keeping warm. This is certainly one approach, but these days upgrading your home's conditioning system is a much better option, and will bode well for you in the here and now, and in the long term, should you decide sell your home. More and more, homebuyers are looking for homes with energy efficient systems already in place. So, think of these upgrades as a long term investment in the resale value of your home, as well a cost efficient and green alternative to your current conditioning system.

Now, with that old choker of a furnace huffin 'and puffin' away, guaranteed it's not as efficient as it could be, no matter what fuel type it uses. The newer gas furnaces are mid-efficiency (78-82%) or high efficiency (89-96%). Although the higher efficiency products can cost up to $ 1000 more than the mid-efficiency products, extra costs will be re-coupled in a couple years, as they will burn less fuel. And, you'll be the greenest frog on the block, sending less harmful emissions out into the atmosphere. “It's so easy being green”, murmured Kermit, once he upgraded his furnace.

With oil furnaces, there are again, much more efficient products on the market as of late. But, a oil furnace does need to partner with a good chimney, and so this may be an additional cost to keep in mind

Take note, it's still the case that electric heat is more expensive than oil and gas, although a smart combination of central woodstove heat, supplemented by electric heat can be cost efficient.

Let it Flow: Change Your Filters!

Whether disposable or washable, all restricted-air heating / cooling systems use filters. And, these filters need to be maintained and changed. Some filters require monthly changes while other last up to three months, and much depends on the conditions within your home. A dirty filter will restrict air flow and with clogged filters you're blocking heat that would otherwise be keeping you toasty warm. Do yourself a favor and keep on top of the regular changing of your heat filters. This is a pretty easy way to boost your energy efficiency and cut costs.

Pump it up: Install a Heat Pump

Air source heat pumps are the most common and they are generally used with a back-up heating system. In terms of function a heat pump works by extract heat from the outside and bringing it in, (in heat mode), and by removing heat from the inside of the house and releasing it outside. (in cooling mode).

The king of heat pumps, though, are ground and watersource, or geothermal. And while the initial investment may be great, the saving will be substantial in the long run. These pumps will use 25-50% less energy than conventional conditioning systems.

At the end of the day, another simple method to help with soaring heat bills, is to keep an eye on the set temperature levels in your house, what is normally described as room temperature is around 68 Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius). Of course, only you can decide where to set the dial. But, if you'd rather avoid the “put on a sweater” method of winter energy conservation, you might consider investing in an improved conditioning system that'll bring you warmth today, and will be a smart investment in the re-sale value of your home.

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The Green House – Solar Power

Green is big. No matter your political / scientific beliefs, you can not deny the power the green movement has. Implementation of Green Technologies have an immediate impact on a universal expense: Utilities. This article s about saving you money, and building the value of your house. Currently, over one-third of all electricity usage goes to heat and cool our houses.

Solar power has been around forever … literally. It is an inexhaustible source of energy, and in all respects, it's free. In fact, we already utilize solar energy to heat and cool our homes, cook our food, and power our vehicles. The fossil fuels we burn today are nothing more than stored solar energy that plants captured through photosynthesis. Over millions of years, heat and pressure transformed dead plants and animals into deposits of coal, oil, and natural gas.


Right now, solar house systems are available that reduce monthly energy bills 50 to 70 percent. There is also a current trend in building “Zero Energy Houses.” Utilizing this process, builders construct homes utilizing airtight envelopes, Energy Star appliances, compact fluorescent light bulbs, and of course a passive photovoltaic solar system. In Lenoir City, Tennessee, Habitat for Humanity volunteers constructed these modest sized homes (1,000-1,200 sq ft.) Homes for around $ 100,000 each. Each of the homes in the neighborhood dubbed 'Harmony Heights,' each energy bill averages less than $ 25 per month.

Intelligent Design

When building a new house, consider the following tips from Mother Earth News:

Solar design for Cold Climates:

1. Choose a building site with no obstructions to the south for complete access to the low angle of the winter sun. Another plus is a site with trees that can block anticipating winter winds, which are usually from the north.

2. Choose a design with a long south wall facing inside 15 degrees of true south.

3. The house should include adequate thermal mass (density, heat-storing materials such as concrete or earthen floors). Consider building an earth berm on the north side for more thermal mass.

4. Most of the windows should face to the south for access to the winter sun. Place a minimal amount of window area on the east and west sides, and place very few windows in north walls.

5. Use shooter overhangs over south windows for better winter heat gain and ample overhangs over other windows for shading.

6. Cover windows and glass doors at night with insulating shutters or insulated drapes to prevent heat loss.

7. Maximize insulation in walls and ceiling. Use rigid insulation under the floor and around its edges.

8. Consider using a dark roof surface to pick up maximum solar gain in winter.

9. Mechanical ventilation will probably be needed in winter; a heat recovery ventilator, which preheats incoming air, is a good option.

10. Consider a porch or plants to the west to block afternoon sun in summer.

Solar Design for Warmer Climates

1. Look for a site where the house can be positioned with plenty of outdoor living space to the north. Another plus is a site with trees to the east and west to block morning and afternoon sun.

2. The house should be compact in shape, with less wall area exposed to the sun. Build shaded porches and patios.

3. Focus on creating outdoor living spaces to the north and east for cooking, sleeping and relaxing. Comfortable shaded verandas are inexpensive supplements that make a house feel luxurious.

4. Take advantage of the cooling effects of vegetation by planning for plenty of trees, vines and garden space. Established shade trees are an invaluable resource -protect them!

5. Maximize insulation in the walls and in the ceiling.

6. For the roof, use a radiant barrier and reflective metal or light-colored roof tile and create air space between the roof surface and the sheathing.

7. If some winter heating is required, thermal mass, such as concrete floor, and windows to the south can be used.

8. If using south-facing thermal mass for winter heating, use deciduous trees or a vine-covered arbor to shade it in summer.

9. In arid climates, use thick walls as a buffer against the sun. Minimize windows to increase this effect.

10. In hot, humid climates with no winter, do not worry about thermal mass. Lift the building off the ground over open crawl space to encourage airflow. Maximize window and door openings on all sides.


According to The Appraisal Institute, a solar electric system increases home value by $ 20,000 for each $ 1,000 in annual reduced operating costs. In addition, there is a federal tax credit of $ 2,000 and state rebates encouraging consumers to purchase a solar power system. An online calculator ( ) is available to compute the approximate cost of the system, along with a rating of solar exposure, rebates, tax credits, increased property value, and much more. Currently the return on investment for solar power is long term. For Denver, Colorado, the expected years to break-even range from 6 to 15 years. Like Hybrids, until solar power systems come down in price, you should not invest in the system for a short-term gain.

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Solar Power – Hot Power From Roof

The hot topic nowdays around the globe is “scarcity of power”. As a country moves towards the peak of development, so is the demand of power. Reports show that there are many homes using electricity more than that used by a small industry! It is because, in the modern, digital lifestyle, each and every appliance like television, computers etc demands huge amount of electricity. However we live in a modern world and hence the usage of these power hungry appliances are inevitable.

The fact is that every positive improvement in the society will have a negative impact on natural resources. But in case of power, there are many alternate sources available in nature. Solar energy is a very good substitute for conventional power generation. The reason being, solar energy is clean, has no pollution effects and does not use any fossil fuels. The most interesting aspect being solar energy can be generated in home.

How about having your own power station on your roof? It is quite simple and beneficial by using solar power. To start with, solar water heaters can be used in homes instead of old conventional methods, thenby reducing your utility bills and also preserving natural resources like fossil fuels. The solar panels called the photovoltaic cells which can be conveniently placed on the roofs of homes converges sunlight directly into electricity. This electricity obtained by the conversion of sunlight meets all the home's electricity needs. “Here it acts as your own power station.” Cool power from hot sun “.

A lot of people have tried the usage of solar power at home and found it beneficial and safe. The hot fact is that more than 10,000 homes in United States completely use solar energy to power up their homes. The ill fact is that enough sunlight falls on the Earth's surface every hour to meet the globe's energy demand for an year year, but the same is not utilized and is wasted.

Still not convinced about the positive effects of solar power in home? By replacing conventional electric water heaters with solar water heaters, one can cut water bills up to 50 percent. And the important fact is, the price of photovoltaic cells, according to the department of energy has fallen by 200 percent in last 30 years. Do not worry if your solar power unit generates more power than need for you. There are many utility power grids ready to buy the clean power for a higher price.

The bottom-line is, by installing a solar power generating unit in home, the home owner will never have to pay an electricity bill; instead he can become the supplier of clean electricity to the country and “save the Earth from energy crisis”

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Reinventing Green Real Estate

It's all about ugly solar panels and cold houses, right? Turn down the heat! Put a sweater on! God, those solar panels are an eye-sore! Not any more. Green building has evolved into much more than simply slapping some solar panels on the roof of your house and calling it a day. It can include such basic concepts as: the proper orientation of your house, sealed air ducts, high efficiency windows, improved insulation, high efficiency HVAC, and tight construction.

Check out The US Green Building Council for more information. A comprehensive rating system called LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) has been developed which goal to provide a road map for delivering economically profitable, environmentally responsible, healthy, productive places to live and work. ”

Too late, I've already got a house

Not really, LEED provides a document called “16 Ways to Green your Home” which advises that you:

  • Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs
  • Program your thermostat
  • Plug air leaks
  • Tune up your HVAC system
  • Choose Energy Star appliances
  • Reduce water use
  • Switch to green power (could be as simple as calling your energy company and asking for wind power)
  • Buy local
  • Use low VOC products
  • Use wood-alternative or FSC-certified wood products
  • Use rapidly renewable flooring materials
  • Plant trees to provide shade and wind protection
  • Use native plants
  • Use non-toxic garden techniques
  • Carpool
  • Buy a high-efficiency car
  • While it's true that certain areas of the country are more open to the green building revolution than others, you can certainly see from this information that taking a step in the “green” direction is not overwhelming.

    So go ahead, give it a try.

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    Green Development – Get in on the Ground Floor!

    Green Development is a relatively new concept that relations on the promise of conservation energy and utilizing it efficiently. Through improved siting, design, construction and maintenance, Green Development enhances the efficiency of materials and ensures their optimal use.

    The concept of Green Development should be inculcated with sustainable development to ensure benefits like increased productivity, reduced operating costs, improved indoor air quality, as well as less water runoff and heat island effect. The practice of Green Development does not imply that the resulting structure will lack in appearance and style. Green Developments can be equally elegant structures having the desirable ecological benefits. This sort of a construction concept is necessary for environmental conversation and is regulated by standards created by the US Green Building Council.

    Green Development aims to construct structures with minimal impact to the environment. The key is to ensure that the materials used in the construction are green indicating that they are local, non-toxic and naturally renewable. Examples include bamboo, oak, straw, stone etc. Other Green Development construction techniques entail the inclusion of large windows for ample sunshine to enter thus, reducing the dependence on electricity; thermal mass that can heat and cool the building during different seasons; energy efficient machinery like refrigerators, stoves and ground source heat pumps; and insulation to prevent energy loss. It is also important to ensure proper waste disposal mechanism. A major factor that can significantly benefit the environment is the use of renewable energy sources like wind energy, hydro energy and solar energy.

    The increasing popularity of the Green Development concept has led many countries to establish standards. The pioneers are the US Green Building Council; other bodies include UK's Code for Sustainable Homes, Canada's EnerGuide for Houses, Switzerland's Minergie, Australia's House Energy Rating and others. These countries are actively pursuing environmental friendly Green Development techniques to promote environmental health and sustenance. Some of the renovated Green Builders are Walter Segal, Steve Baer, ​​Rocky Mountain Institute, Ken Yeang and James Wines.

    San Jose, California has presented an excellent example which reflects Green Development concepts. Due to the unpracted growth and economic development of San Jose in 1960s and 1970s, there is a need to meet the growing urban demands. The answer was Santana Row which is a San Jose shopping center consisting of several chic brand retailers like Gucci, Brooks Brothers, Burberry, Crate and Barrel, Borders etc. Santana Row is the formulation of the shopping, dining and living dream; it boasts of 680,000 square feet of retail space; 1,200 luxury rental units including town houses, lofts, and flats; a 214- room hotel; a 12-screen entertainment cinema; 5,200 parking spaces; a pedestrian-friendly main street; public open space; plazas and courtyards. State-of-the-art facilities equipped with modern construction and amenities make Santana Row a much desirable spot for people from all walks of life. Santana Row efficiently utilized the available resources at hand to create a unique, successful and popular structure.
    Santana Row has evolved as an outstanding creation that entails all facets of life within 43 acres of land. This very fact proves the competent use of limited land. Whatever the need may be, Santana Row provides the answer; it is the epitome of the one-stop concept to meet all needs.

    Mixed use development is the name given to similar structures that are intended for many purposes like shopping, dining and living. Street Works is a team of professional developers, architects and planners who initiate concepts in urban locales and passionately take steps to materialize their concepts.

    Street Works excels in identifying potential locations for a business opportunity and then taking appropriate steps to analyze, design and create a plan that would work with the requirements of the area. This gives birth to construction and development ideas that are relatively new. These include mixed use, residential, commercial as well as urban revitalization projects.

    Street Works has been successful in identifying a few projects that can be potentially lucrative opportunities for the involved businesses. These include 620 Avenue of the Americas in New York City, Quincy in Massachusetts, Blue Black Square in Connecticut, Reston Town Center in Virginia and a few more. Street Works aspires to create the Santana Row phenomenon in each of these areas where retailers, restaurants, cinemas and builders will collectively provide an array of services and facilities to the residents and customers. Street works has arrived at these locations by conducting extensive market research and analysis. The importance of market research can not be stressed enough before the launch of any project. Potential impacts of the project should be carefully assessed before the idea starts taking shape. In this manner, one can be prepared to handle the various difficulties, challenges and situations a project may present.

    The increasing population and development presents an opportunity to take up similar projects and explore the possibilities. Land and other limited resources should be put to profitable use and then create an environmental friendly and convenient experience for all. Although a mixed use development project is a risky proposition, adequate research and study will help to choose areas that have the best opportunities of stimulating with mixed use development structures. The most popular choice for a mixed use development considering all elements tend to be the downtown area of ​​a city. Planners and developers have made several observations and predictions about the success and benefits of such structures; but please note all pros and cons, mixed use developments have immunity potential and promise to be the most visited and acclaimed places provided the areas that are built in are easily accessible and acceptable to the residents of the city.

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    Living Green While Getting Your Home Clean

    Okay, so you've heard about global warming, the importance of recycling and a lot of talk about organic food. You get the idea that going green is the wave of the future but are not sure how you fit in. By making simple changes you will not only help the environment but you'll save your family and pets from toxic chemicals that are present in regular household cleaning products.

    Whether you know it or not there are many products on the market that are extremely harmful to your health and that of your family and pets. These can cause many irritations to the skin, eyes and nose. Not to mention, these chemicals linger for days and weeks after you are finished using them. You wind up creating a little chemical mixture in your own home that you're breathing in all the time. This is in part due to cleaning products but also the paintings we use on our walls, varnishes on our furniture and the formaldehydes and glues in our carpet.

    There is hope! New products are revolutionizing the way you clean and live in your home. These days you can buy an eco-friendly home and install anything from flooring to window treatments that are better for both you and the environment. Yes, these options are a bit more expensive but well worth it in the long run. You can not put a price on your own health and that of your family. There are also wide ranges of fun cleaning products that smell great, are non-toxic, biodegradable and will not hurt our precious earth. These ingredients do not include the harsh chemicals, that regular products have such bleach nor do they contain sulfates or petroleum-based contents, rather they have plant-based ingredients. Why is this important? Well, let's not forget that petrol is a non-renewable resource that is quickly being depleted. Sulfates cause an overgrowth of algae in our waters and kill off fish everyday. We can do something about this!

    All of these next generation products are also usually made from recyclable plastics and are recyclable themselves. They can also be reused for your other homemade cleaning concoctions such as vinegar, or water while using baking soda.

    There are many new companies providing products at the moment, you might have seen some recently on Oprah. Such companies are Method Products, Seventh Generation, Shaklee, and Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day. Of all of these products I can personally attest to using Method brand products. A girlfriend got me to try their liquid dishwashing soap and I was hooked! I soon explored their mint window wash for glass and windows as well as their all purpose cleaner in such great scents as cucumber, lavender and pink grapefruit. Who would not want to clean with these fun-smelling products ?! What I started to realize was that while I was making a difference to our planet, I actually looked forward to cleaning with these great solutions because they smelled so wonderful AND they cleaned phenomenally well to boot! For those of you who prefer fragrance-free they also offer a line called “naked” that does not have any scent at all.

    They sell their products conveniently online and in your local Target stores and some drug stores carry a range of their products also. Easy to find, Easy to use and Easy on your skin, eyes and nose. So safe you do not even need to use gloves to protect your hands! Their wide range of offers include soy-based candles, oil diffusers, dish washing liquid, dishwasher cubes, laundry detergent and fabric softener to all purpose cleaners, tub and tile sprays and they now even include body wash and hand soaps! They have a product to match every regular product on the grocery store shelves including micro fiber cloths, which eliminates the need for paper towel waste and provide a streak-free shine! Do you have a specialty surface like granite or stainless steel? They ave you covered there too!

    Check out their website today to see why Method Products are the # 1 selling eco-friendly cleaning products and why everyone is talking about them!

    ** Note: Method does not compensate me for my articles and promotion, this is strictly personal preference based on great results by both myself and other Method users. I highlyly enjoy promoting their products to educate others to make the right choices for both themselves and their environment.

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