Why You Must Go Green?

Dismissed as a fad until some years ago, most mature organizations around the world are now willing to give the Green Building concept a serious thought. Although the journey is far from over, yet the comforting fact is that this issue features prominently among the long-term strategies of many medium and large size companies across the globe.

Thanks to the efforts of the United Nations and other international bodies, decision makers now increasingly realize that we can not afford to have a myopic vision when it comes to the future of the planet. The simple logic being that our planet's ecology can be in real danger until some genuine efforts are made in the direction of creating energy efficient buildings.

So what exactly is the concept? Put simply, Green Building reflects to the concept of reducing its impact upon the environment by making optimum use of the various resources such as power, water and other materials. This can be accomplished by integrating 'green' principles throughout the building life cycle through the steps of site selection, design, construction, operation, maintenance and even dismantling.

The benefits of Green Building are not limited to the environment alone. Organizations that have implemented these principles have experienced various tangible and intangible benefits including:

o Reduced operating costs

o Improved productivity

o Reduced consumption of resources

o Minimal environmental impact

o Enhanced image and goodwill

These are just known benefits, there are many more benefits and those are unseen. This is one of the best technique to save our environment with pollution.

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Geographic Micro-Markets in Real Estate

When seemingly endless statistical reports show steadily declining home values, it is essential to analyze geographic micro-markets to properly assess the value of residential properties. Although many media and data tracking sources will often cite national declines in median housing prices, a significant number of areas, or micro-markets, will simultaneously experience an increase in home values. So how does this micro-market phenomenon recurably happen with each turn of the real estate cycle?

As if the old adage of “location, location, location” needs to be repeated ad infinitum, prospective home buyers will attempt to reduce the stress and confusion associated with house shopping by focusing solely on the amenities offered in each home. Unfortunately, when determining the value of a home, features like granite countertops and floor coverings are reliably insignificant when compared to the quality of the neighborhood in which a home is located.

In support of this point, both government assessors and private appraisers utilize the “comparable sales approach” to determine the value of a property. According to this method of valuation, the sizes and prices of homes sold in the surrounding neighborhoods are analyzed to determine the worth of the subject property. Some weight will be attributed to the degree of features included in a house, but the value that amenities typically contribute towards a home's determined value is relatively nominal. This explains why a discrepancy in price between identical homes located in different geographic micro-markets can often amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars, while a home with unsurpassed amenities may be worth only thirty thousand dollars more than the basic home of similar size across the street.

Housing boom markets often cause home buyers to disregard the importance of location and concentrate only on how much house and how many amenities they can get for the money. Why worry about location when housing values ​​will unduly continue to increase in every neighborhood? It is not until the boom bubble bursts and prices begin to decline that buyers become weary and really start to analyze whether their prospective purchase will amount to an appropriable investment in the future. As a result, buyers will start to purchase only in quality neighborhoods. They bypass those areas teeming with rental homes, bank owned foreclosures, and desperate owners and builders rapidly lowering sales costs to compete while driving down the neighborhood's comparable home values ​​in the process.

Consequently, home values ​​in quality neighborhoods are stabilized and historically increased due to heightened demand generated by these selective buyers steadily reducing the available supply of homes for sale in desirable areas. So despite computer generated statistical reports showing national price declines, stable micro-markets are created, begin to appreciate, and the wheels of the real estate cycle go around and around.

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Building a Green Home – Six Ways to Save Energy (and Money)

There are many areas where you can experience significant energy savings when you are building a green home. By working with an architect in the early design stages, many of these areas can be addressed in the design of your energy efficient home, helping you to save money in the future and enjoy a healthy home:

1) Footprint: Reduce the size of your home. Your home design should be limited to only as much space as your family needs. This will keep your energy usage to a minimum right from the start.

2) Windows: Windows are a break in the thermal insulating barrier of your home. The higher quality window you choose the better performance the entire home will achieve.

3) Insulation: Even if you do nothing else, by choosing a superior building envelope for your home like structural insulated panels (SIPs panels) and / or an insulated concrete form foundation system (ICF), you will enjoy huge savings in heating and cooling your home (up to 50% -60% over a home without SIPs).

4) Passive solar design: By incorporating sunlight for lighting and heat and natural ventilation into the basic home design, you can reduce the size of mechanical systems and lighting in the home.

5) Heating system: Consider a renewable energy system to heat and cool the space and tap water in your home (solar, wind, geothermal).

6) Ventilation: Incorporate an air-to-air exchanger, or heat recovery ventilator (HRV) system into your home. This will replace stale air with fresh outdoor air while maintaining the temperature inside the home and conservation energy.

There are many other areas of the home that can be addressed to increase energy efficiency and save money over the life of your home. In the beginning stages of the home design , your green architect will discuss your opportunities to save money while providing a healthy environment for your family.

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Green Building – Should You Jump on the Bandwagon?

I am not sure about you, but I feel like I can not go anywhere without hearing about green building. Do not get me wrong, I am all for innovating the process to conserve the environment. I just can not help but wonder how long the “Green Movement” will last and what part will stick around for the long term.

Environmentally friendly is not a new concept. I can remember when recycling was introduced and when I used recycled notebook paper for the first time. How about the grandmother who wraps the presentations with newspaper, is not that “green?” Granted, many resources that have been widely taken for granted are becoming more expensive and in time may just disappear. So we have a need to come up with new technologies and innovations for things like energy, but is not that what we have always done? We have a problem and find a solution.

I attended a local development event recently and a heavy debt asserted as to whether or not the costs of green building could have been recouped in an office building. On one hand, you have the developer saying it is almost impossible to rent at a higher rate. The tenants do not understand the costs savings, nor can they see a discount or savings on their bill each month that would equal the amount of increased rent. On the other side are developers who say they can not lease their space to large fortune 500 companies or the government without meeting the green building certificates.

So, is green always more expensive? Not necessarily says Peter Morris. Morris states that reasonable levels of sustainable development can be incorporated into most building types at little or no additional cost. In a report published by Buildings, the average return on the initial investment for a LEED-certified building is 2.6 years. The LEED-certified buildings also had annual net savings of more than $ 170,000. LEED-certified is the lowest LEED level a building can earn.

I have always heard the lower the level, the lower the investment cost. Just in case you are wondering, according to Beth Anderson to obtain LEED-silver, the building would cost an additional 3.5%, gold would be an additional 4.5% and platinum would be an additional 11.5%. What are the benefits of pursuing a higher level of LEED design?

A study performed in California yielded results of the following energy savings based on current LEED buildings.

Certified 28%
Silver 30%
Gold 48%

Is it worth pursuing the higher LEED levels? I believe that is still up for debt but there are many facts that support building a certified or silver LEED building results in costs savings in energy. With the increase of fuel costs, everyone is looking for ways to save on energy. Another fact that has fueled the demand for LEED buildings is the occupancy rates.

Occupancy rates, as well as rental and sales rates, are typically higher in a LEED building (or energy efficient) versus a building that is not energy efficient. In the last two years, there has been a 70% increase in the rent charged per square foot in LEED buildings. The increase represents a premium of 36% over a non-LEED building (AIA.org).

Consumer buy-in has become a major factor in the green movement. LEED buildings also have a 4.1% higher occupancy rate than the non-LEED buildings. The chart below highlights some of the difference between LEED and non-LEED as well as Energy Star and non-Energy Star.

Financial Metrics for Green versus Conventional Buildings

Building type Occupancy rate Rental rate per ft ^ 2 Sale price per ft ^ 2
Energy Star Certified 91.5% $ 30.55 $ 288
Non-Energy Star peppers 87.9% $ 28.15 $ 227
LEED certified 92.0% $ 42.38 $ 438
Non-Leed peers 87.9% $ 31.05 $ 257

Source: CoStar Group, “Commercial Real Estate and the Environment”; All Figures are as of first quarter 2008.
Does this mean you should go green? I think that decision rests very much in how you want to serve the market. The estimated green construction for this year will only amount to about 2% of the total construction for the year, but by 2010 it is estimated to be as much as 10%. In dollars, that would be equivalent to $ 29 to $ 57 billion (CNN Money).

No matter what side of the fence you are on, I feel that LEED is here to stay. Over time, the requirements or rules may change, but some form of our current Green Movement will remain.

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Organic Architecture

What is Organic Architecture?

The term “Organic Architecture” was invented by the great architect, Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959). An architecture idea which promotes harmony between man-made structure and the nature around, through design approach so well integrated that the buildings and surroundings became part of a unified and interrelated composition

Objectives

Organic architecture not only addresses environmental concerns but also expresses individuality. As each building is related to the variables like man, site & time so every resulting structure is unique & unrepeatable.

Origin & Inspiration

Primitive vernacular architecture was innately organic, based on natural forms, structures and simple, local materials. The rectilinear, perpendicular form of architecture that came to dominate the 20th century was the reflection of an industrially driven age. However In the new millennium the designers are awakening to a new world inspired by the creative forces of nature and biological organizations.

It was in the USA that organic architecture began its great modern journey when Architect Louis Sullivan described his famous proverb that form follows function – a key concept for organic design. Frank Lloyd Wright would often choose sites close to woods, rock formations, or even waterfalls and his buildings would become part of nature. For Antoni Gaudí, Spanish architect the straight line belonged to men and the curved line to God.

Characteristics

– The design approach is inspired by nature & the built form grows out of the site, emerging like an organism from the seed of the nature.
– It is visually poetic, radical in design, multifaceted & surprising, distinctive but flexible & environmentally conscious.
– Organic architecture is said to be the mother of all architecture- sustainable or bio architecture, alternative architecture or any other.
Some examples of this movement are: Kaufman Residence 'Falling Water' (Pennsylvania), Sydney Opera House (Sydney), Casa Mila (Barcelona), Lotus Temple (New Delhi).

Approach

– A respect for natural materials (wood should look like wood)
– Blend into the surroundings (a house should look part of the hill, not perched on it)
– An honest expression of the function of the building (do not make a bank look like a Greek temple).

Exploring Organic Architecture

New age, architects have taken the concept of organic design to new heights by employing newer materials & technology in the application of natural shapes, rhythm & composition to their buildings. The re-emergence of organic design represents a new freedom of thought. This is affecting most fields of design- products, furniture, lighting, textile design, architecture, landscape and interior design. More liberated and imaginative forms, unacceptable to major corporate clients a few years ago, are now being welcomed & accepted.

Inference

Rectilinear buildings are not ideal “green” buildings if they work against the dynamics of fluids, heat, light, sound, and force. The buildings need to work with nature and allow optimum shapes and forms to be developed that are more efficient, economic, and appropriate to local climate and environmental conditions. With continuous expansion of cities, there is a growing lack of interaction between, man & nature. Organic structures with free flowing & curvilinear organic forms inspired by nature can fill in this void enhancing the city spaces aesthetically, spiritually & with the spirit of pursuit & marvel.

Concerns

Organic or sustainable architecture is evolving fast, but there is a risk of it becoming a wonderful statement engrossed in high-tech science and technology & organic forms being superimposed from the outside rather than evolving like life from within. We need to learn to use natural forms & materials from observing living forms & creatures which are the very forms of life and growth that inspires organic architecture.

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New Purpose Built Eco Community Being Developed in Cornwall

Cornwall's first tailor-built “eco community” – described as an experiment in cutting-edge green and economic living and a potential model for the nation to follow – is coming to life in Hayle. The £ 3 million first phase of 12 houses is near completion in the Fairglen project, which is targeting near-zero energy bills for its occupants and is believed to be one of Britain's largest sustainable new communities currently under construction.

Its creators, Redruth-based Percy Williams and Sons Ltd, first conceived the £ 7.5 million scheme nearly a decade ago and have been working closely with the Government's Low Carbon Buildings Program.

“What makes this scheme so unusual is that it is a whole collection of new eco homes – a mini- community – being designed and built at once, for the mainstream market, rather than the more typical schemes involving one-off individual properties for architects or wealthy clients, “said Simon Williams, managing director of the developers.

“It is very much an experiment, with commercial gain not the immediate priority.

“We set out to see just how interested the public were in this concept – how ready they were to embrace the emerging technologies and buy in to the 'green' eco homes concept.

“We regard Fairglen as only semi-commercial from our perspective. The results will guide our future developments as a long-established home provider in Cornwall and will, we hope, act as something of a pilot for provision of new homes nationwide,”

Seven of the three and four-bedroom houses now near completion off Loggans Road have already been sold. Buyers include the scheme's lead architect, John Stengelhofen, of Lilly Lewarne, who is relocating his family there.

Situated just off the coastal road to the beach, the new homes on the south-facing former nursery site benefit from “passive solar gain” – heating up naturally from the sun – and will use proven ground-source heat pumps, which extract heat for hot water and heating from boreholes 100 to 120 meters deep.

The properties have significantly higher insulation values ​​than required under current building regulations, along with high efficiency heat recovery ventilation systems and photovoltaic roof systems. These systems achieve a net contribution to the national grid and effectively provide free electricity for residents. Features also include underfloor heating and rain water harvesting.

Mr. Williams commented: “This is emphatically not just a token or a gesture in the direction of eco-building. The principle offers immense gains for occupants and for the future of our planet. of oil – at over a hundred dollars a barrel and rising – compared with the level of under 25 dollars when we first conceived the project! ”

Fairglen is being built by John Nicholls Builders, of Goonhavern, and the five three and four-bedroom eco homes are still available available in the first phase are priced from £ 250,000 to £ 330,000. A flood plain adjacent to the development is being converted by Percy Williams and Sons into a nature reserve.

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Three Things to Consider When Evaluating Homes For Solar Power

If you are in the market for a new home and you're interested in adding a solar array, there are some things that you'll want to keep in mind as you visit prospective homes. Properly evaluating homes before you buy can save you money and headaches later.

First, research the available subsidies. The Federal Government offers a generous tax credit on solar arrays installed after the beginning of 2009 and it is applicable anywhere in the US. Subsidies offered by states and utilities vary from absolutely nothing to very generous amounts (sometimes as much as half of the installed cost of the system). In particular, pay attention to what subsidies different utilities in your state offer. Some may be generous, others stingy. Find out which utility serves the property you're considering buying.

Location, Location, Location. You've heard the expression that in real estate it's all about location, location, location. That's basically true in solar arrays too. The seating of the array can have a huge impact on how well it can turn sunshine to electricity. When you're walking around the outside of a property examine the orientation of the roof. Is there a good south facing area of ​​the roof that could accommodate an array? Is there a lot of shading on the roof from 9 am to 3 pm? If so, the roof is a poor candidate for placing an array. If you can eliminate the shading you'll be OK, but if neighbors' trees or power lines are the culprits then you're probably out of luck.

Is the property in a covenant controlled development? If so, you might run into restriction to what you can put up on your roof. If the HOA forbids solar arrays or would require you to locate the array in an undesirable location (a north facing roof section, for example) then you should consider a different property. Some states, like California, protect home owners who wish to install a solar array from cosmetic objections. However, in many states these issues have not been addressed yet and you do not want to be the guinea pig.

Finally, look up a number of local installers and interview them. Finding the right installer is critical to the entire process. Do your homework before you jump in to the project.

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What to Look For in a Green Home

When you hear the suggestion to buy a “green” home, bear in mind it does not mean you should buy a house that is physically painted green. Living green these days reflects to being more mindful of the environment and working to lessen your carbon footprint. If you have the opportunity to move into a new home, why not consider a fresh start by doing everything you can to create an environmentally-friendly place to live? You'll find it's not expensive to do, and it can help reduce clutter and increase homeowner satisfaction when you discover how much money you can save.

Searching for a Green Home

As real estate agencies become more knowledgeable on green living, you may find it easy to spot the most important elements needed to make an environmentally-friendly house. As you tour potential residences with a Realtor, look for the more obvious signs:

The exterior: What does the house look like? An eco-friendly home will be covered with paint that is low in toxicity and therefore does not release deadly toxins into the air, or use a “green” style of siding. Fiber cement siding, for example, expends less energy in manufacture than vinyl, and is less toxic.

Insulation: In school we remembered the three R's. When buying a home, you just need to know the R factor. This calculates how quickly heat is conducted across a surface. A home with little to no insulation is more likely to absorb the heat, moisture and cold air from outside, resulting in a low R factor. When looking for a home, you want to be certain the insulation rates at a high R factor. A well-insulated home protects you from the elements, and can help reduce heating and cooling bills.

Also, check the windows. Are they double-hung, insulated, and installed correctly? If so, not only will the windows reduce the amount of UV rays filtered into the home, but they also provide for easy use and natural ventilation. The larger the windows in the home, the better the opportunity for natural lighting, which lessens the needs for electricity.

Flooring: Definitely check for hard-surface flooring in the homes you visit. Eco-friendly hardwood and similar styles are simpler to clean and maintain than carpet, and do not absorb as much moisture. Should something spill on a carpet, chances are it will remain there even after cleaning, and increase the risk of mold. However, if prefer a carpeted home, you may wish to look for carpets made without artificial dyes and installed with non-toxic glues.

Plumbing: It's a fact that the less water you use, the lower your bill. Low-flow plumbing fixtures are also eco-friendly, as they require less energy to use and prevent waste. You may also want to see if the home has a tankless water system, which allows for instant heating of water so you do not waste time waiting for water to heat when you need it.

Your home is your castle, and the planet is a vast kingdom that needs to be preserved for future generations. As you search for a new home, take the time to ask about environmentally friendly features. A green home not only helps to conserve energy and natural resources, but it can also reserve your own “green.”

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Montana Real Estate at Red Lodge

Developers gasconade 'sustainable' segment in Red Lodge

RED LODGE – Sealed in writer, the field at the far septentrion end of Red Lodge reveals few clues some what's in stock for its proximo. But travel outpouring, as the honors homes go up, locals give looking what its developers describe as a livable, sustainable group.

The initial stage of the Spires at Red Lodge, situated two miles out Highway 78 and septentrry of the golf pedagogy, faculty artless with 66 new residential lots. Fully collective out, however, the 120-acre section would add author from 400 residence sites – and theoretically 1,000 more grouping to the town of 2,300. While the voltage for alter is substantial, the development's designers say that they took want to create an element that instrument merge into the dominance, not reduce from it.

“We started out with the reversive whim, 'How do we figure a localize where we would require to smouldering?' “said Russ Squire, a real estate broker and handler of the process. Squire touts the Spires for its affordability, its range of the Beartooths, its incomparable facility features, its parks and a proposed travel system.

“It's got views of leash 12,000-foot peaks,” he said. “And it's the exclusive municipality usage with a spontaneous outflow creek.”

The Spires gift yet hit solon than triplet miles of trails, which, as unreal, testament one day nexus to a planned locomote system into the downtown expanse. The arm will also add 20 acres of open7 tract to the city. The gaping location, reticulated by triplet irrigation ditches and a season indian, present solon than manifold the area of ​​Red Lodge's park method. It is also more than threefold the park acreage required by statute, Squire said.

Too tract, the division has inverted over to the port the processing of irrigation water rights and has donated $ 200,000 in public payment that the municipality victimized to get a new firetruck and law car.

“Being sustainable is also supporting the structure of the municipality,” Attender said.

The process is submissive by lots ranging between 7,000 and 8,000 conservative feet, which concentrates the universe, thusly allowing for much effective use of the soil, said Craig Shaper, one of the attribute managers.

The Spires also preserves range corridors and maximizes confederate exposure for voice doe benefits. In gauge of gutters, the utilization will rely on “bio-swales” to hoard flowing for slower percolation. The swales, landscaped with a variety of grasses and flora, will foreclose the development of flutter food from adding to the municipality's burdened waste grouping.

Red Lodge earlier sensing

In warmheartedness to architecture, the squad that drafted organization guidelines was led by Town architect Don McLaughlin, who helped create Red Lodge's Human Historic Govern in the incipient 1980s. With that tralatitious appear in brain, the group intentional potential homes to resemble Red Lodge's primal residences. “We're disagreeable to instruct grouping to seem at the existing material of Red Lodge and understand that into the structure,” Playwright said.

Whatever areas of the section are unprotected to owner-built homes – lots begin roughly at $ 89,000 – but new areas are engaged for designer-planned residences equivalent to Spiers' “region cottages.” The weensy cottages, which are common 1,200 row feet, are specifically slashed after the townspeople's historic miners' homes. Intentional with welcoming anterior porches and garages relegated to the posterior, they simulate the prehistorical but stretch on the coming. “All we're doing is attractive trilateral neighborhoods and adding sustainability,” Tender said.

The cottages faculty be collective with materials that tap vim efficiency and minimise repair. And they gift be constructed using pre-constructed panels craned into square. Panelization greatly reduces value, Attendant said, noting that the method has been victimized to habitus multimillion-dollar homes in places suchlike Aspen, Colo. Considering practical manipulation and intercalary expenses, he speculates that the committee homes can be collective for $ 120 a honorable measure. “It takes troika months forward abstraction,” he said. “Then, within two life, you someone an intact internal and all you get to do is landscape.”

No doubt there are locals who would promote that orbit to be larboard in grass hay, but Red Lodge Politician Betsy Scanlin said the writing's message was not contentious. Yet there stay issues to be resolved. The section instrument be served by the municipality's liquid and drainpipe grouping, the latter of which has a susceptibility for only 300 many units, Scanlin said. The townsfolk is search to alter that grouping, excavation simultaniously to increase its content by segregating attack irrigate out of the waste mix.

“We bang the susceptibleness to manage the prevailing pauperism,” she said. “But currently we do not bed fund for increase build-out.” Scanlin was a town council member when the Spires direct was authorally lastly season. She and the interruption of the council welcomed the Spiers' designed facilities, such as sidewalks and parks, and its old-time recommendation.

“It came as uncommunicative to meeting the employment codes and maturation policy as anything I had seen since my period on the council,” Scanlin said. “That component use fits a exteroception we had.” Seemingly, others portion that vision. Attendant said the division has sold $ 2 1000000 worth of lots since Sept, making it the hottest-selling process in the Red Lodge expanse. According to the processing of Web place, by far the most hits came from Montanans, followed by residents of Minnesota, California and Texas.

Tender figures 20 to 30 pct of the lots faculty deceive to locals, added 20 to 30 to Billings-area residents and the construction to people experience elsewhere in Montana or out of express. Forrest Sanderson, the city's district utilization supervisor, arrived in Red Lodge after the music's approval. He hopes that the developers not only athletics the required conditions but that they also springy up to unbinding agreements – among them, the business of more modestly priced options – prefab during the pedagogy of its support.

As Sanderson points out, the Spires is not the exclusive scheme in municipality. There are much more than 500 another vacant lots ready to be formed, he said. “For a organism to descend to Red Lodge and figure their woolgather home, there's a lot of option out there,” he said. “Examine durable and phantasy big.”

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Living in a Green Home

Article on Green Houses (version 2J)

By now, everyone has heard never ending stories about how bad our current housing market is. However, there are still plenty of people searching for a home to purchase. So while you are looking to buy your first home, or have have bought more than a few homes in your lifetime already, buying a home is one of the largest financial decisions you can make. Additionally, the size, type, area, and cost of your next house, along with what you decide to do with your new house, can have a very large impact on your environment.
If you are concerned about the environmental footprint you leave behind for your loved ones, while at the same time enjoying a beautiful home, read on and learn about purchasing a “green” home.

Cut your homes energy bills by reducing its energy usage:

Nearly anyone can conduct their own, quick and easy energy inspection of their own home or a prospective home to see what is needed to make the home more green. It is a simple process which begins with simply looking for leaks or drafts in the home. Check common problem areas such as doors, windows, baseboards, and even power outlets. Wherever you find a draft or see sunlight, seal the areas with common items such as spray in insulation or window tape. Your local hardware store can usually assist you if you have unique situations or difficult to fix locations. Also, make an effort to use a full load for household appliances such as dishwasher, washer, or dryer. Over or undersized loads create unneeded energy waste by inefficient use of the appliance's motors.

Purchase an energy efficient home:

If you are looking to purchase a home, you can choose to have your Realtor search for “green” homes. Modern home builders are constructing “green” properties that come with upgraded insulation, energy saving blinds and windows, along with appliances that are designed to conserve energy. To find homes like this, consult with your local Realtor. Owning an eco-friendly home in this current marked is a smart choice because the homes are becoming increasingly popular and in demand, and have a better potential to sell quickly and at a better price. Every day, a larger percentage of the population is putting greater emphasis on either saving money, protecting the environment, or both!

Location.

People who live in crowded, dense populations, in general, leave a smaller ecological footprint than people who live in suburbs. This is not necessarily because people like places like New York City are in principal more eco-conscientious than people in suburban areas, but more likely because they tend to live closer to work, shopping, and entertainment than suburbanites. Furthermore, individuals who live in dense populations are generally more likely to use subways, busses, or public transportation to get to their destination than non urban dwellers.

The lesson? Chose the location of your home carefully and pay close consideration to commuting distances, proximate to shopping and your method and options of transportation.

Live Large, while Buying Small.

It's the newest mantra for eco friendly individuals: Small, is really the new big. The smaller your living space, the less heating / cooling, and lighting it will need. Thus, you will have reduced energy usage and utility bills.
With some careful interior design, you can create a tasteful and beautiful living area out of some surprisingly small living spaces.

Do not be afraid to make changes:

Do not expect to find the perfect home when you are shopping for any home, let alone an eco-friendly home. Whatever home you purchase, you will likely want to make some basic changes to make it more aesthetically pleasing for you and your tastes and needs. A fresh coat of low VOC paint in your favorite color is easy and affordable. However, ripping up the old, leaky, rusty, lead leaking plumbing is a much bigger task, but something to consider depending on the house's needs. These are important things that you should consider when purchasing a home. An experienced Realtor can assist you with some of these considerations.

Recycle:

When you are looking for your next home, do not rule out a home just because of an out of style kitchen or bathroom. Typically, these are two of the rooms in a home that will get you your best return for your renovating dollar. Assuming you do not have to gut the place and change the structure of the rooms to get something that will make you happy, you can perform a modest remodel based on your ecological principles and obtain a gener, more efficient home which suits your style and needs, and easily increase your home's worth and resale value when it is time to upgrade to your next home.

The importance of Shade:

While some people want trees close by for hugging, others look at trees for their climate control abilities. The foliage that comes with your new home can influence your home's energy usage. In the summer, a trees leafy branches will block the sun and help keep your home cooler and use less energy. Conversely, in the winter, when the leaves fall, the bare branches let in more sunlight and in turn heat your home, resulting in cost savings to you.

More on the Outdoors:

A large yard with a lush green lawn maybe what you always wanted growing up, but remember, the lawn will use up a significant amount of water and need the appropriate amount of upkeep. A smaller yard will use less water, require less upkeep, and give you more time to enjoy your home!
Good luck and happy home hunting!

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Join the Green Movement by Building Eco Friendly Homes

Going green is the best route to take today. With the environment getting much attention these days, there's no way to go but go green. Thanks to concerned non-profit international organizations that strongly advocate the preservation of the ecosystem, many people are now made aware of their responsibilities for saving our Mother Earth.

It's great to know that various segments of society are indeed exerting efforts to use and recycle environment friendly materials. Homeowners are recycling wastes, companies are using recycled products to promote their businesses, car owners are making biofuel to run their vehicles and automakers are making electric cars and other eco friendly vehicles. The construction sector has joined in and several companies such as Mountain Creation in Pennsylvania are building wood cabins and log homes for people who want to go totally green to save the Earth.

Eco friendly wood homes compared to the regular homes have little impact on the environment and humans as well. They are constructed in such a way that they use energy, water and other resources in a very efficient manner thatby reducing waste and pollution and protecting the health of occupants. In other words, their overall design, operation, maintenance and construction support the green building process.

Green building promotes the use of environment friendly resources in constructing residential structures considering to be an affordable approach for both home builders and homeowners. In the United States, the US Green Building Council (USGBC) leads in setting the standards for designing, constructing and operating eco friendly buildings. The council is, in fact, responsible for creating the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or what is commonly known as the LEED rating system.

In building homes, using wood and logs is not only practical but it is also beneficial to the environment. Most logs such as those from cedar can be obtained from natural resources. They are renewable resources in that they can be replanted again and again after being cut for use in building homes. These trees can be found locally and need not be transported from other states resulting in lower costs.

Apart from their renewable properties, wood can also be recycled. Unused logs can be used again to build other homes or used as firewood. Since nothing is wasted, the environment benefits a lot from them.

A big advantage of wood homes and log cabins is that they do not pose any health hazard to occupants. This is because wood used for construction are very natural. They do not need any kind of processing with the use of harmful chemicals.

Still another benefit is the big savings homeowners of eco friendly homes can gain. They can save a lot on their energy, heating as well as cooling bills. The reason behind this is that wood homes provide a family's much desired comfort all year round regardless of the weather outside. Wood is capable of absorbing heat during the summer and releasing heat during the winter season.

Keep in mind that a beautiful home does not need to have to make from concrete. A wood home or log cabin can be anyone's dream house because besides its natural beauty, the benefits it can give you and your family are incomparable.

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Going Green in Okotoks Alberta

Okotoks, Alberta is a growing Canadian town that's located just outside the cosmopolitan city of Calgary. It is a unique community that real estate buyers should take note of due to its strong commitment to environmental sustainability and responsible economic growth.

With newcomers moving to Okotoks every year, the residents and City Council decided to work together to ensure that the community continues to expand in a smart way. Their goal is to encourage growth, but with consideration for the so-called carrying capacity of the local environment. Determined to build an environmentally responsible community, “About 10 years ago, the folks there decided they were going to live within their local environmental means. Today Okotoks can fairly call itself the greenest community in Canada.” -Prime Minister Stephen Harper

As part of their commitment to environmental stewardship, the town of Okotoks challenged the nearby city of Airdrie to a 'battle of the green.' Through the One Million Acts of Green, One Act at a Time movement, residents of both towns post details about their eco-friendly acts online. The town who commits the most green acts by the end of three months will win the contest, but by simply participating, both communities are setting their sights on environmental victory.

In addition to the Green Acts challenge, the town of Okotoks has also set up a Long Term Sustainable & Environmental Reward Program to acknowledge residents who have become more environmentalally responsible.

The town itself has received several awards as well, including the Leadership in Sustainability Award, a silver medal for 'Communities under 20,000' and a gold medal for 'Solar Initiatives' through the International Awards for Livable Communities.

With thoughtful planning and fiscal responsibility, Okotoks is walking the walk of being an eco-friendly community. Housing density, open space, and water consumption are all factors in their plan to manage the city's predicted future population of 30,000 people. There are approximately 20,000 residents living there today.

In addition to managing infrastructure, Okotoks is also committed to keeping urban forest and green spaces as vital and respected parts of the community. An example of this is can be found in Okotoks Air Ranch, which is one of the few airpark communities in Canada. The homes in this very special neighborhood not only have access to a private grass runway and their own airplane hangars, but they're also surrounded by an abundance of open space and a 23-acre reserve of protected land. Here, local plants and wildlife are free to thrive in their natural habitat-and residents can enjoy the view.

Okotoks is a wonderful example of how communities can satisfy the needs of residents and local businesses, as well as take care of the environment. By taking steps now to monitor growth and encourage sustainable practices, the community of Okotoks is preserving its environmental heritage-and its future.

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Buying Or Renting? Demand Your BER and Save Thousands

The Irish government in all its wisdom this year introduced legislation that can help everyone buying or renting property save thousands of euro's a year. Unfortunately they forgot to tell anyone! But it's true and it's here.

It comes in the form of a Building Energy Rating Certificate (BER cert.). This harmless piece of paper provides you with an insight into the running costs of your property. The cert. is similar to those found on home electrical appliances, fridges etc, it allows you (at a glance) to establish if your property will have high or low running costs and the difference can be massive, thousands of euro a year.

Put that over the life time of your mortgage and then we're taking serious money. If you are a house buyer then the good news is the seller has to by law, provide this certificate to you on request.

Here's a further breakdown to help explain what it means;

Since the start of this year it's been law that any person selling or letting a property must provide a BER certificate. Basically this certificate informs the purchaser whether the properties heating, lighting and hot water costs are going to be high or low. This is shown on a simple energy usage scale from G being the most expensive to A1 being the cheapest to run and the difference can be huge.

It is estimated that an average 3 bed house fitted with a wood pellet boiler, which would result in a higher BER rating, could save EUR25,000 over 30 years compared with an identical house fitted with an oil fired boiler and this is only one element of the potential saving available. eg you would not buy a car without knowing the mpg so why buy a house without knowing its running costs!

So what if you find the house of your dreams and it has a bad rating? Do not worry. When the government introduced this legislation they not only supplied you with an insight into running costs but they alsoave you a great bargaining tool. Simply use a low BER rating to negotiate a better price and get those savings now.

In the future, as the government pushes to reduce Co2 levels and energy usage, it is expected that a properties BER rating will greatly affect the resale value.

So as a buyer demand to see the BER certificate and save yourself thousands of euros. It's the law; it will cost you nothing, so ask for it!

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Will Buyers Go Green in Austin, Texas?

In the city of Austin a new energy ordinance will require that homeowners have an energy efficiency audit done prior to selling their home. The audit report must be disclosed to the buyer of their home. Energy audit and disclosure will become a part of the home purchase process in mid 2009.

In Austin's hot climate energy performance has a lot to do with how efficiently the central AC system works. We are more concerned about cooling than heating, but both systems are used throughout the year. The new law aims to upgrade the energy performance of older homes in these critical areas:

Finding leaks and closing gaps in AC ducts. (Ducts can have 10% – 30% leakage!)

Improving the insulation in the attic to help retain conditioned air.

Keeping the hot sun out with solar screens on windows.

Reducing the loss of conditioned air through cracks in doorways and windows.

After some resistance by homeowners and groups, the law stopped short of making energy upgrades mandated in order to sell a home. In today's market, it does not make sense to add difficulty or cost to the sale process. So, the law was pared back to just require that sellers have an energy audit, and distribute the results to potential buyers.

Will buyers demand that the home they buy pass muster in terms of energy efficiency? The market will have to sort this out. I think that, over time, they probably will. Sellers will anticipate this by taking steps to correct the wasteful loss of energy in their home. Most sellers would like to have a positive report to show prospective buyers. They will want to have a clean bill of health. And, we must admit, the items required for testing are really fundamental.

They are so fundamental that they are generally not noticed. These are not the green features that are ego satisfying or really appealing. We do not see them featured in Dwell Magazine. They are not as exciting as wind turbines, or solar panels, or rainwater catchment, or Icestone counters. These are things that most people would rather not think about. Like caulking and duct mastic. And, unglamorous dark screens and dusty old attic insulation. These are not the upgrades that cause buyers to say, “I love it.”

So they have never been top of mind concerns. Austin's new energy audit law is going change all that. It will bring these behind-the-scenes basics into the limelight. Old houses will meet new tech. Homeowners will be able to improve the basic energy efficiency of homes. That will mean lower utility bills. And fewer carbon-spewing power plants. And, a greener Austin.

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Green Living in Adobe House – The Benefits of Living in a Green Adobe House

On a visit to Tucson in 2003, an old high school friend of mine, Daniel Snyder of Westwind Solar Electric, introduced me to the designer and builder Tom Wuelpern. As the award winning owner of Rammed Earth Development, Wuelpern has built many adobe house in the Tucson area.

Wuelpern lives and works in the Barrio Santa Rosa district of central Tucson and the 800 block of Meyer Avenue has been a principle focus of his creativity. Here he's built homes that complement the vintage adobes of that historic district. When he first arrived there was not a single house left on that stretch of Meyer Avenue so Wuelpern had to live out of a trailer while building his first home. He says the neighborhood was “a little rough” and that occasionally he'd sit out in front of the trailer “with a gun over my knees.”

Things have changed since those early days when people said that Wuelpern was crazy to build in a “slum.” Now the original residents share the Barrio Santa Rosa with, artists, architects, symphony musicians, and many other creative types attracted by the rustic character of the adobe house.

Adobe construction was first brought to the southwest by the early Spanish settlers who were originally introduced to it by the Moors from North Africa.

One old adobe after another crowds the Barrio's dusty avenues, many of them painted in vibrant colors which scintillate in the desert heat. The Barrio Santa Rosa really has the feel of a traditional Mexican town.

I, being a “creative type”, was enchanted by all of this and when Wuelpern offered me the opportunity to have some input on the adobe house that he had to say “yes.”

And it has been a treat to get to know the pleasures of a small Green adobe house.

The walls are 18 inches thick and the floor is poured concrete with a radiant heating system embedded in it. I chose recycled blue jeans insulation which is as effective as fiberglass for temperature but even better for sound, and more green and ecological so that it will never present any hazard to the environment or to anyone's health.

I get a snug feeling just thinking about my adobe abode.

The paint on the interior walls is exclusively appropriate because it is a non-toxic clay paint composed of earth pigments sourced from the desert landscape itself. All other interior paintings are Non-VOC, so they do not pollute the interior space of the house. I am always stuck by the yucky smell of toxic chemicals emanating from the paint, carpeting, and other components of newly built or remodeled conventional buildings. It's the first thing I notice and there is none of that in this Green Living, ecological, adobe house.

In addition to benefitting our health by not out gassing toxins the natural paint allows the thick adobe walls to breathe because it does not form an impermeable skin between the interior air and the walls. These walls can then act as a temperature and humidity reservoir for the house which stabilizes the in door climate through out the day.

Adobe is not a very efficient insulating material so an adobe house is not the best choice for regions with harsh winters but it is an excellent choice for the desert where it gets very hot during the day and can be very cold at night. This is because adobe has a good “thermal mass,” which means that as the suns heat is absorbed by the exterior walls it typically penetrates through the wall to warm the interior during the night. By the next morning the cold night air has cooled the wall contributing, in turn, to cooler interior temperatures during the day. This allows me to cut back on the air conditioning and the heating.

Since adobe is essentially an inert material, the “toxic” content of the structure is hugely reduced. This makes adobe construction, when feasible, a very attractive Green Living alternative. Adobe construction is a reasonable way to achieve sustainable living spaces appropriate for us and the environment.

This is a very comfortable Green Living and ecological adobe house. It is a beautiful residence which places no demand or burden upon its occupants; it feels neutral and enriches the spirit with its light and benevolent character.

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