Be Proactive and Green-Up Your Office Space!

Going “green” does not refer to a color but rather an attitude about the environment. Its scope is wide as there are many ways for humankind to negatively impact the environment. In a nutshell, it is really all about the sound utilization of resources and preserving natural elements. On a daily basis, people may or may not knowingly participate in going green through simple activities such as using recycled paper bags instead of plastic bags and turning lights off when not in use.

Benefits

While going green may seem like a campaign for environmentalists, it has tangible benefits when implemented in a commercial office setting.

  • Appeal – Deciding to create an environmentally sound workplace can boost a company's appeal to both employees and clients. It may not be obvious, but due to growing environmental and energy concerns, a large percentage of the population feels very strict about this subject. A green office space can help gain the approval of individuals who support such a cause.
  • Spending – Another tangible benefit of going green is to help reduce company spending by improving efficiency in the usage of resources as well as energy. Things like using recycled paper, using natural lighting and turning computer monitors off when away are a few things that could eventually lead to expense reduction.
  • Environment – Last yet equally important is it helps the environment. No matter how it is looked at, most resources are non-renewable such as fossil fuel which is still the most common source of generating electricity. While there are some renewable sources such as trees, it take decades to restore one tree. Utilizing resources can easily lead to more efficient usage of non-renewable resources and sustainability for the renewable ones.

Green Practices

Improving building efficiency requires competent utilization of energy-consuming appliances, lighting and water.

  • Appliances – Most appliances today such as televisions, computer monitors and air-conditioning units are equipped with energy-saving features that can automatically shut off when not used for a certain period of time. Upgrade older appliances since technology is much more energy-efficient than decades or even years ago. If such an option is not possible, the most effective way of saving energy is to simply turn off appliances when not in use.
  • Lighting – Illumination is a critical element in any office space; it is also one of the most wasteful ones. When changing light bulbs, choose CFL bulbs that are the most efficient in terms of light intensity per watt of electricity. Another way to improve efficiency is to use natural lighting. If an office space is fortunately enough to have large windows, using natural light along with artificial light to get the right intensity could be ideal for working while decreasing energy consumption.
  • Water – Improve water efficiency by using auto shut off faucets for sinks, waterless urinals, and low-flow toilets. While these upgrades have a high initial cost, such an action will be beneficial over time by reducing the amount of the water bill.

In conclusion, going green is not just a fad; it should be a part of everyone's lifestyle – even at work. It is possible to implement office changes that can have a great environmental impact. While some steps may require an initial investment such as upgrading to energy-efficient appliances or waterless urinals, it is a wise investment that will benefit a company financially and most importantly preserve the environment!

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Living Green in an Apartment

There are many things residents can do who live in an apartments to be green and help the environment.

The one thing that makes renting better than home ownership is that it is easier to live close to your job. The closer you live to work, the less pollution is generated getting to and from your job. And with shore commutes you get more time to be with your friends and family. Try to find an apartment that is located near transit stations (bus, train, light-rail, airport). You can also look for apartment that provide eco-friendly resources like extra recycling bins, native plant gardens, uses low VOC paint, is smoke-free, and other resources.Look for an apartment that is near local shops so you can walk to the store to get groceries, food, and other common items.

The most obvious things renters can do is to reduce, re-use and recycle. If your building does not have a recycling program, look into starting one or find the nearest recycling drop center. Get to know your neighbors so if you have items you no longer need you can see if they would want it. You can also do simple things like

  • utilizing reusable bags,
  • buying and using eco-friendly, non-toxic cleaning products,
  • remove yourself from junk mail lists
  • put recycling containers by your mail box
  • use Fen Shui in your apartment
  • start a building club so everyone can get to know each other

There are also many things you can do to impact your energy bill, including:

  • If you're not using a light, turn it off as you leave the room. Plus, try using energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs that help reduce your electric bill and provide light many times longer.
  • When using air conditioners in the summer, be sure to only keep the unit on when you're home or when absolutely necessary.
  • Another great way to lower your electric bill and save energy is to unplug your electrical appliances when you're not using them. Or, plug your appliances into a power strip and turn the power strip off when the appliances are not in use!
  • Refrigerants do use a lot of electricity. Be sure not to set the temperature in your refrigerator too cold.

Can you compost in your apartment? Yes, make a worm compost bin. You can even work with the owner and landlord of the building to install low flow water devices. Another important thing is to let your landlord know when there are water leaks, or if your apartment is too hot. They can then fix these items, helping our environment by not wasting its resources.

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Three Examples Of How Long A Central Control Irrigation System Can Function Properly

Many central control irrigation systems provide the kind of flexibility and control options that result in water savings under the right circumstances. By “right circumstances”, I mean that a professional, knowledgeable water manager is running the system. Following are three examples of how a properly run central control irrigation system can function for the long term.

One such instance is on a property located in the state of Washington. This property is a residential development that caters to homeowners 55 years of age and older. Development started around 2000 and, as of 2010, is pretty much completely built out. From day one, central control was installed to run the irrigation system.

The equipment on the property consists of one CCU, six irrigation controllers, four flow sensors, and 160 irrigation valves. The method for communicating to this CCU is a telephone modem.

For several years, this way of communicating to the CCU worked very well and without a hitch. Then in 2009, it changed. The property manager made some kind of administrative mistake that caused the phone provider to disconnect the phone line to the CCU. Without a live phone line, the water manager had no way to communicate, control and monitor the system nor any of the irrigation water.

However, given the system's flexibility and the water manager's expertise, a solution was found and implemented. Instead of relying on a phone line, the water manager acquires a wireless modem. This device operates on a cellular network meaning there was no need for a wired connection going into the CCU. Along with some adjustments on the ventilation software located at its home office, the water manager reestablished control over the ventilation system and the property owner did not have to fuss with any of it.

A second example is a property where a central control irrigation system has been actively put to use for multiple years is a commercial office park located in the state of Oregon. This property, developed in the 1980s, consist of 15 acres of landscaping around more than a dozen buildings and along more than a mile of streets. The irrigation system consists of one CCU, eight irrigation controllers, five flow sensors and 120 ventilation valves.

Now with any electrical system that has been in constant use for 20 plus years, especially one large located outside of buildings, there are occasional issues that have occurred. These issues including slugs and bugs causing damage inside of irrigation controllers, power loss taking place outside of the ventilation system and a litany of ventilation breaks caused by lawn mowers, motor vehicles, wear and tear and vandalism. Through all of these events and issues, tens of millions of gallons of water, scorching heat and freezing winds, this central control system continues to function due to proper management and maintenance.

A third example is a mixed-use property located west of Portland, Oregon. This site includes local and national retailers and grocers located at street level. Above these tenants are condominiums and on the same block are brownstone-style homes. As a part of the various management agreements for this development is a process by which monthly expenses are assigned to different tenants on the property. Among the expenses broken up is water used for irrigation.

Having the right combination of hardware, software and management goes a long way toward helping the property manager with this process. As a part of its irrigation system duties, the water manager analyzes the amount of water measured by the flow sensors and also takes a water meter reading on-site. With this information in hand, the water manager then breaks it down for the property manager to apply the figures as appropriate to the monthly tenant bills.

Since irrigation water use is best applied when it is a function of weather, the volume of water from month to month can vary quite a bit. Because the central system can record and store this kind of information and that a knowledgeable, proactive water manager is running the irrigation system, the property manager gets accurate and timely information.

In all three examples, the central control irrigation system continues to function very well over a long period of time because the property managers and owners place a high value on water use and a professional water manager is running the ventilation system.

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How to Go Green When Selecting Your New Office Space

If you are setting up a service company, and are motivated to build a sustainable, energy efficient and eco-friendly business, then finding a green office space should be right at the top of your goals. Anyone with such a motivation will be accredited with the indicators which point to the sustainability and greennness of an office space, but it is important to realize that there are plenty of minority factors that reveal a space of green status that you can miss if you are not in the know. The following guide shows what to look out for when choosing an office space, and for when you are thinking about the office refurbishment or office fit out.

  • Windows – Many office spaces have sealed windows, due to the fact that the internal climate of the office can be controlled and monitored more easily. It is more eco-friendly though to have windows that open, as they can be shut during the winter but opened in the summer to help decrease the burden on air conditioning units, which use a lot of energy.
  • Proximity to public transportation – The more of your employee base which takes public transport to your office reduces your overall company impact on the environment, and so giving your employees the most convenient means to arrive by public transportation as opposed to their own is an important consideration.
  • Natural light – Reducing your dependence on artificial light means you use less electricity, and more more on the sun's natural energy, which reduces your bills and your impact on the environment. You can maximize the sun's effect by choosing lightly colored and reflective office interiors, so keep this in mind when you perform an office fit out.
  • Showers – If you include showers on your promises, then your employees will not be afraid to get sweaty and bike or run their way to work. It is easy these days to include showers as part of an office fit out / office refurbishment.
  • Solar panels – This is becoming a highly popular feature for green office scouts. Decreasing your dependence on the national grid equates naturally to helping the environment more, since solar panels produce their own dedicated electricity for your office space, and so it is certainly something to consider. Make sure you do the calculations to work out how much electricity solar panels can provide you with however, as solar panels are expensive – work out if they are cost effective, and when they will start paying themselves off.
  • Insulation – Probably the most important point in regards to energy waste, you need to ensure that your office fit out provides an office which does not lose heat too easily, especially if your office is located in a cold climate. Specialist office interiors energy evaluators can help you see how much energy your office wastes, and provide appropriate solutions. Energy efficiency solutions are usually cheap and cost effective, and you will return the money on your investment by energy savings in a short space of time.

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Do “Green Items” Increase Home Value?

I often read articles stating that solar panels or “green items” will increase your home value. What about wind mills and other form of “green” ideas. Here's my take on these types of things such as insulated walls, wind mills, solar panels and anything else that is considered “green.”

Nothing and I mean nothing will increase home value unless the market is willing to pay for it.

You see, all of these studies that show solar panels or wind mills will increase your home value by 3% or 5% are taken from some text book or a study in some other part of the country. Real estate is local and can not be moved and there are lots of moving parts in a real estate transaction that is much more important in determining the value than “green” homes.

The appraiser must look at the most important data to determine market value and they must be able to find homes with similar items to compare. Until the MLS system offers line by line items for such improvements and there are enough homes in the market to use for comparable homes, “green homes” will never be given much value.

Here's the issue with using this type of material or any type of “green” items to build your home. First, there is not sufficient market acceptable of these types of specialized construction methods. They will usually cost you more money to install. When an appraiser goes looking for real comparable sales to support these improvements, there will not be enough data in the market to support an increase of price or an adjustment in most cases because of the sheer lack of data.

The real reason to install “green” items in the home is to save energy in the long run, not to increase your home value.

When an appraiser looks at all of the comparable sales in the area, let's say they find 15 similar homes in your area. And when I mean similar, this is in reference to location, lot size, square footage, bedroom count other important amenities that Appraiser and Realtors can study. By pure luck, one of the Realtors talks about the ICF walls or the solar panels and you are able to search and find this home in the area. What are the opportunities that the home will offer some sort of similar square footage, design and lot size? Let me help you with the answer, slim to none.

So, here are some solutions to this problem

Create an entire development of “green” homes and make sure it is larger enough to really make an impact in the community. And when I mean “green” I mean, ICF walls, solar panels on all of the roofs, wind turbines around the entire development and in everyone's yard, homes built to with the correct windows for passive and active collection of energy. This will allow Realtors and appraisers to look at homes from these types of developments and really determine if they will increase value or if there is any real impact and if the market will pay for these improvements.

Make sure every MLS system in the entire country is correctly identifying the “green” items and putting them in the MLS so that Realtors and Appraisers can use this data to determine if the market is willing to pay for these types of things.

Until this happens across the country or in your home town, there is a slim chance that green items will have a big impact in increasing your home value.

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Budding Demand of Residential Real Estate in Mohali

The population of India is rising at an alarming rate and thus finding a suitable property is certainly not an easy job. Everyone searches for a place which offers reasonability, a pollution free environment along with an easy accessibility to the basic amenities. All these needs of the people have made Mohali one of the most hunted places today regarding real estate which fulfills them all. The best part is that finding a suitable Mohali property at affordable rates is certainly not difficult. Yes, that's right wherever you wish to invest in a residential, commercial or an industrial property one thing which is pretty guaranteed is that you would not experience any death in the number of affordable choices.

Even studies have revealed that there has been a significant rise in the demand of Mohali real estate and apart from the local natives, people from different states and numerous NRI's also wish to invest here. A pollution free environment, beautiful landscapes, splendid views, easy accessibility to all the basic amenities with a huge variety in the real estate options, the city has certainly everything to offer. If you wish to reside in a prolific dwelling you can choose to buy a villa, however if you possess a limited budget or have come from any other city to study or work, then flats and apartments would be best for you.

There is a great range of flats available in Mohali in terms of location, size as well as rates. There are 1/2/3/4 BHK flats available with a huge variety. So, as per what your pocket allows you along with your preferences you can choose to buy or rent a nice flat. It has been observed that the apartments with one or two bedrooms are quite popular students who come to Chandigarh or Mohali for their studies or the people from different states who stay in Mohali because of their job.

Beside, various residential projects undertaken here in the recent couple of years have also contributed to the budding popularity of real estate Mohali. There are many projects which have attracted attention because of their lavish infrastructure and reasonable rates. However, buying and selling real estate Mohali is certainly not an easy job as the copious choices would certainly baffle a layman. Thus, it is advisable to hire professional real estate agents Mohali who possess a comprehensive knowledge about the current scenario of real estate market of Mohali. Although there is no shortage in the number of property dealers Mohali still make sure that you delve into their track record and reputation before hiring anyone.

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Green Real Estate Case Study – Environmental Futurists Argument for Mega Cities

As the founder for a think tank which happens to operate online, I generally have the final say in who gets to join, and who does not. I've been rather alarmed in recent years by the number of folks trying to join who had taken environmentalism almost as some sort of religion without having all their facts straight. Further, far too many of them have been brainwashed by academia to the point that they do not even really know the true definition of capitalism, and have in mind this nonsense that money is evil, and free markets are not fair.

Additionally, I am concerned with what happens when groups of like-minded people that do not understand reality get together in group-think designing what they believe to be the future utopia and epitome of human civilizations. They fail to realize their history, or how the real world works, but they are more interested in talking about some sort of fantasyland, that someone else is going to pay for, and everyone is going to live happily ever after enjoying a heavenly existence. Okay so, let's talk and let me give you a case study and example here.

There was an interesting research paper put out by Deutsche Post DHL, a Futurist type Report on logistics titled; “The World in 2050,” the press release appeared on February 27, 2012.
Anyway, the piece had an overview of 5-potential scenarios and in scenario one which is described as an; “Untamed Economy,” with “Impending Collapse” the article stated;

“The world is characterized by unchecked materialism and mass consumption. This non-sustainable way of life is fed by the relentless exploitation of resources, a development that stokes climate change and causes natural disasters to mount. for logistics and transport services climbs sharply. A global transport supergrid ensures a rapid exchange of goods between centers of consumption. But as climate change advances, supply chains are increasingly disrupted, a development causing additional challenges for logistics companies. ”

Now then, I am not sure what type of fantasyland these folks are living in but but I have some harsh and critical words for all this nonsense and global warming alarmism. You see, when I first heard about this report I was very excited in reading it, because I consider myself a Futurist in many regards, although I am not the type of Futurist who leans towards Plato utopian communistic theory. Further, to criticizeize consumption, is also to criticizeize capitalism, abundance, and all that the free-market can deliver.

It seems these utopians want to be free from want, and they want to make sure no one else can have what they want. That everyone should have only what they need to barely survive, and nothing more, but that is not what the human animal is about, nor does it take into consideration the innate characteristics of the species. We can not go around predicting the future without understanding the human animal. And we are not going to be able to change the brain structure or the foundational genetics within to make people happy as minimalists by wishful thinking.

Now then, that's not saying we can not use genetic manipulation, drugs, pharmaceuticals, or future modification of the species to do it. But in that future are not we really talking about turning human beings into a giant collective or Borg? Oh my gosh, 1984 here we come. As if all this nonsensical thinking was not enough, these futurist have to throw in the whole global warming religion issue, claiming there will be dystopia, or we can never reach our goals unless we do it their way, which happens to be destroying our energy infrastructure, changing the economic flows of civilization globally, changing the way we consume, the way we live, and submitting to the ultimate authority, namely their's.

It is interesting that the folks who were involved in this project, and this collaborative futurist work have played their hand, and now we see what they want to do, they want to control every aspect of our lives, tell us what we can and can not have, hijack our energy infrastructure, and then promise us they will deliver what we need, which is what we will in the future agree to if we adopt their global warming religion. You only have to read between the lines just a little bit to see what's going on here, and it should scare you. If it does not scare you, I would submit to you that you are not paying attention.

In fact, most of the challenges we have in our economy, supply chain, and free-market system have to do with the same types of individuals with their left leaving thinking trying to manipulate the flows of money, labor, production, and capital. It is obvious that they want to do this well into the future, and if they are not allowed to, they claim that we are all going to die because of global warming, that we will live some sort of a terrible existence. Well, I have news for you, all those folks who have promoted a utopian society in the past, trying to create something that will last for 1000 years – well, we've all seen what has happened, and manankind is not the better for their exploits, and exploratory projects with human civilization.

The reality is that when you look at the United States and the free-market system, and as we practice capitalism to our best ability, although we do fall down at times, we have created massive abundance, and it's worked quite well. This is the model we should follow, and anything to destroy this model is a threat to America's future. If those people want to run their little game plan, and create their little communist nation state, or the folks in Belgium want to create a unified Europe, then let them go try, but as I look out around the world now, I see theirs projects have failed time and time again. And personally I do not think the United States should be bailing them out, or joining in cahoots with a nonsensical dream, or a new environmental religion.

It is obvious what works, and what has not worked. Capitalism has worked, socialism and communism have not, and there before we should all take notice and move forward into the future of human mind with that knowledge. We should not dismiss it, deny it, or trample on that truth. The problem with goody-two-shoed environmentalist futurism is that all their theories are flawed, and their foundation is baseless nonsense – it's all a house of cards, and if you fall for it, the Joker of dystopia wins. Please consider all this and think on it.

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Are There Really Mega-Efficiencies in Mega Cities – Really, Where Is the Empirical Evidence?

Are zoos really that self-sufficient? No, without the humans feeding the animals that would all die, and if you allow them to mix-and-mingle, total chaos would ensue almost immediately. Would not you say that attempting to domesticate wild animals in this way is a lot like socialism, and after a while you can not return those animals to the wild, as they would not have the brain power, prowess, or hunting skills to survive or prevent themselves from becoming someone else's dinner? Okay so, let's talk about this, specifically about the concrete jungle we call mega-cities, you know where many of you humans live and work.

Now then, there was an interesting Futurist Report which came out at the end of February, 2012, actually on leap-day, which is something telling, as I believe it was a leap of faith more than anything else. DHL put out a paper titled; “The World in 2050,” and one of the 5-scenarios was the potential for “Mega-efficiency in Megacities,” and the press release for the paper stated that Mega-Cities;

“Are the main drivers and beneficiaries of a paradigm shift toward” green “growth. To overcome the challenges of expanding urban structures, such as congestion and emissions, megacities have become champions of collaboration. have changed their habits: Products are now usually rented, instead of purchased. High efficiency traffic concepts have relieved congestion. megacities of the world. The logistics industry has been entrusted to run city logistics, utilities, and system services for airports, hospitals, and shopping malls. ”

When I read that part of the multipage press-release, I thought to myself only a utopian communist or socialist futurist could have written it or rather the report it was excerpting from – and what they seem to be forgetting is that domesticing humans clearly does not ' t work, they are a rebellious species, and certainly not meant for a 1984 or Borg type existence. Those who've tried to create a utopia in history, well, their pet project and visions of a 1000 year civilization have all ended tragically for all concerned.

Further, all the recent attempts at a green utopia have ended in costly bankruptcies, failed projects, and / or increased costs, which I may add have made the natives more restless, not less. There is a reason for urban flight to the suburbs, and there is a reason that there is a higher standard of living in the suburbs as opposed to the degraded cities of our time. There is also a reason for mega-slums outside all the major cities, and often a cancer brewing from within, even as there is a constant push for renewal, and economic development.

This whole “build it and they will come attitude” and motif is not meant to be, because if you build it, most likely humans will destroy it. Is not that what usually happens, I mean let's be honest here. I am saying look at the statistics, scoreboard, or empirical evidence if you will, the numbers are in and it's clear, big cities are not quite as synergistic as they seem or are claiming to be. For the wealthy who live in cities, there is certainly abundance, but at which expense, a question that I am shocked these well to do socialist refuse to ask themselves in all of their hypocrisy. And yes, it is true for them at least there is a lot of cognitive surplus to dream up these utopian plans of minds, but I would submit to you that their level of cognition is blind to reality, so, what good is it?

Mega cities still require mega power, mega-resources, and quite a bit to sustain them, but in the end they are not “sustainable” to borrow a catch phrase and common term from the left-lending ramblings of socialism. Mega cities drain vast amounts of fresh water supplies from large amounts of land to funnel for their own usage, then these individuals claim to be concerned about the environment, interesting I say. Even with all their “recycling” efforts and then busy patting on the back they create mega-trash piles elsewhere. The air quality is bad, and then their air blows out to the rest of us. The traffic is a mess, destroying productivity and efficiency.

But now this report says that in the future they will fix all that, and all they need is the money to build the city perfect, into their utopia at last. Really, then who is paying for it? If the city is so great and so efficient, why not have them pay for it themselves, why should the tax dollars of everyone else be funneled into the city for them to run another dead end experiment with a human utopia project? They've been taking everyone else's money for years, they'll always need more, want more, and promise us that someday, you'll see. Really, because you see LA, only when the smog clears, and it's time for these folks with all their communist tendencies and academic accolades to get some fresh air, so they can think.

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Shipping Container Homes and Why They Make Sense

It's amazing to think that the shipping container that bought your TV from overseas can now be the home that you live in.

In the early 1950's in America families could buy a modest new home for around $ 20,000 after you added the property taxes, furniture, appliances and move-in costs. In today's real estate market in the United States, purchasing the same type of house in a typical middle class neighborhood might cost you around $ 200,000 depending on the location and other factors.

But now many people looking to buy a new home are buying them for the same price as their parents or grandparents did in the 1950's at around $ 20,000. The difference is they're buying homes not make wood or traditional materials. They're buying shipping container homes. That's right-homes made from used steel containers that once carried merchandise on large ships. And they're not what you would first imagine. These are nice, desirable homes.

Shipping Container Homes Are Easy To Get and Easy To Get Into

A lot of people are looking into using recycled cargo containers as a material source for building homes. They certainly are a green alternative to other materials and using them does a lot of good for the recycling community. We do not notice it very much but there are quite a lot of unused, empty cargo containers sitting at ports all around the world doing nothing but taking up space. Or worse yet, being sent off to landfill.

Manufacturers of goods and the shipping companies that ship those goods see them as disposable items, throwaways just like the soda cans so many consumers still do not see value in. It's actually rather expensive for countries to ship unused and empty containers back to their country of origin and quite often it's cheaper to buy new containers when the need for them arise.

Costs for cargo containers vary but on average you can get a used one for about $ 1,500. The average container has about 350 square feet of space. Someone who wants a 3,000 square foot home would have to pay approximately $ 80 per square foot to have a home built using traditional methods. In some parts of the US it costs well over $ 100 per square foot.

Container homes cost about four and a half dollars per square foot (the cost is just for the frame, not including the construction and finishing work). But do the calculations and you'll see the basic (frame only) cost for a 3,000 square foot home built from recycled containers is about $ 13,500. Even with the added cost of having to configure and finish the basic units to make them into a home it's still quite a savings over traditional home building methods.

Shipping Container Homes Are Being Accepted As Part of Society

So far the most popular places for building cargo container homes has been in parts of Asia and in the former Soviet Union. But recently shipping container houses have started showing up in the United States, specifically in southern California.

Of course it does take a bit of construction work to fix up these steel containers including installing insulation, plumbing, electrical, windows and doors. Yet, when all is said and done, the homes are made from recycled materials, cheap and unique. And this is just what many green home owners are looking for right now.

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Earth Homes – Going Back to the Basics Saves Energy

Decades from now, homes built in America and elsewhere around the world may be made of ultra-modern materials like steel and glass. But they also might be made of the original and natural materials, the earth materials benefit our feet. Many architects and engineers are taking this idea seriously and taking a fresh look at utilizing building techniques that our Earth's ancient people's used.

Environmentally Friendly and Very Inexpensive

In today's modern society, it's all too common to accept the belief that a building material or method has to be expensive and come from many years of research. Otherwise, it's not worth using, right? Wrong. Modern Society is taking a new look at a remarkable new (or not so new) building material that can be found in abundance everywhere, it's cost efficient in terms of heating and cooling costs, and it's really “just as cheap as dirt.”

The truth is, we're talking about dirt, or more specifically, the natural materials found in and around the dirt that covers our planet. When it comes to inexpensive building materials, how much more inexpensive can you get? That's the great point of earth homes. You can not get any cheaper. And we're not talking about living in damp, dark caves either. We're talking about nice homes.

Long Lasting-Look at the Proof

Before you jump to conclusions and assume earth homes that can not survive in the elements (especially in the rain), consider this: Some of the most famous of all structures in various parts of the world are not made of glass and steel, they are made of earth. How about the Great Wall of China, a massive earth structure still standing strong after almost 2,500 years?

How about the great pyramids of Egypt? Mosques in Middle Eastern countries? Or adobe homes in the southwestern US that are at least 100 to 200 years old? All of these examples are proof that earth homes made with the right combination of materials and the right material processing methods can last a very long time.

Some Typical Types of Construction

A common type of earth home in north and South America is what is called the Adobe home. The word adobe can be used to reference a certain design or style of home, but historically speaking the word actually refers to a specific building material used in earth homes. Adobe is a form of brick that is made with a combination of straw, clay and compacted soil. Adobe construction varies from one region to another; in some areas where modern materials are still introduced, Portland cement is added to the mixture for strength. In parts of South America where such materials are not available, fermented cactus juice is added to act as a waterproofing membrane.

Another building technique used in building earth homes is what is called “Rammed earth.” This method resembles Adobe homes somewhat. Like Adobe, rammed earth utilizes soil and other ingredients that act as a means to keep water out. But adobe is suitable only in dry climates because the adobe bricks have to dry and cure adequately to remain strong. The rammed earth technique involves compacting the soil and natural cement ingredients into forms. After sufficient curing and drying time the forms are removed.

Beneficial and a Worthwhile Option

It's easy to see the environmental and economic benefits of earth homes, but are they really a practical option for family living? The answer to that is an absolute yes. Earth homes stay warmer in the winter because of the natural heat from the ground below. They stay cooler in hot weather.

They are very low maintenance structures and last a very long time as we have examined. They're very safe homes too. Earth homes are naturally fire and termite resistant. And what may be the best benefit of all is that they provide peace and quiet. The materials in earth homes are naturally very good at noise blocking. People who live in earth homes do not have to worry about “keeping up with the Joneses'” because they might not even notice that they're there.

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The Tiny House Movement and Merits of Downsizing

People are talking about the tiny house movement. What is it? Is it small houses that are being moved down the street to tiny lots? Is it a political movement? This movement is all about a segment of society that states that people are downsizing the space or spaces that they live in.

If you have not heard of it, the tiny house movement is a growing trend and not just a fad. It's been featured on network television all over the world. What makes the tiny movement so big, and what determinates what a small home is? The average house in America is just less than 3,000 square feet in size. Tiny houses are built with the focus on smaller simplified living so they average around 400 to 500 square feet at the most. Some small houses are very tiny, at around 65 square feet.

But Why the Movement toward Downsizing Houses?

This movement is all about efficiency, saving natural resources, and saving the environment. People who have been concerned about these factors in society have been very concerned at the amount of natural resources (and accompanying waste) that's generated every time a standard size home is built.

And if you include all the resources that go into maintaining older standard size houses, a good argument can be made that the old adage of “Bigger is better” is not better anymore. For example: If a tiny home of about 200 square feet is built in remote areas away from sprawling cities, the house leaves virtually no impact or carbon footprint on the natural environment around it. And in many areas small dwellings are using solar panels for their energy source.

Smaller Homes Are Economically Friendly Too

When you consider many automobiles today cost over $ 50,000, it's easy to see the economic value in getting involved in the tiny house movement. Small homes or houses can cost as little as $ 37,000 if you buy a pre-fabricated or pre-built one. If you build it yourself you'll save a lot more.

A lot of people think that buying a tiny home means living in a cardboard box or something like that. Not so. Because the cost of a tiny house is so low, builders can focus on higher quality building materials that are more energy-efficient and last longer than materials used in traditional home building.

The small house movement is also providing an affordable means of home ownership to people whose homes were destroyed during hurricanes in the southeast US in the past ten years. Some people whose homes were completely destroyed could not afford to rebuild, or they did not have sufficient insurance coverage to rebuild the home they had before. So tiny homes provide a comfortable and safe life for them.

Downsizing to Simple Housing Is the Answer for Some

There are some people who have not been affected by natural disasters or financial meltdowns. They simply want to join the movement because for a lot of people in today's hectic society, simplicity is king. Many people in society during the last few decades have found them working working long weeks and getting little time off, only to spend that time constantly maintaining a large house that they hardly ever spend any time in. Although small homes will always be just that, the tiny house movement is growing into something big.

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Why Are Reallionaires Chasing Green Real Estate Assets?

Real estate investors who have been battered by the 2007 financial crisis and consequent recession have become increasingly frustrated with buying traditional property assets. Yet they remain in no man's land when making attempts to revive their fortune. To the contrary, investors who have successfully survived the financial crisis, knows that in times of economic turmoil, they must jump ship to stay afloat. As traditional property assets lose their appeal, it is time to look elsewhere. Typically, the average investors typically tend to sit back and wait for the next big booming economic wave. Whereas, savvy property investors spend time creating that new wave in a safe boat.

During the rubble (or collapsed economic cycle 2007-2012), reallionaires have been switching to new property sectors, in particular, green real estate, while novices are still buying traditional assets. This newly emerging property sector, green real estate (GRE) may be defined as a convergence between green technology and the reinvention of aging property assets, such as, car parks reinvented into solar car parks or EV recharging stations. The green property sector consistors of property assets, such as, solar farms, agro-fuel estates, landfill gas sites, energy from waste facilities, solar car parks and bio-fuel plantations to name just a few. An astonishing US $ 211 billion was invested in this asset class in 2010, up by US $ 51b on its 2009 figures. As a result, green property is the most highly sort after property asset among reallionaires and there are some lucrative reasons why.

For starters, reallionaires are putting their money into the green real estate sector because it has pulling power when it comes to attracting capital. Not only are the World Bank and Sovereign wealth funds lending millions to developers and owners of green property projects, but many financial institutions and private equity firms are also throwing cash at developers of such property assets. As reported in various UK's Newspapers, property tycoon, Vincent Tchenquiz through his acquisition vehicle, Consensus Group, raised over £ 71 million from sovereign wealth funds and institutional investors to acquire and develop solar farms, wind farms and bio-fuel refineries in South Africa. Likewise, in 2010, Vattenfall secure £ 150m from the European Investment Bank to develop a wind farm in Thurness Point, Kent UK.

Another reason why reallionaires are adding GRE assets to their property portfolio is due to the knowledge that it attracts near zero taxes and other types of investment incentives. It is now common knowledge, that the acquisition of green real estate is largely a tax free investment. Under Governments' legislation in the UK and Europe, investors operating in the GRE sector pay less taxes, in comparison to their counterparts investing in main commercial property. Additionally, capital gains tax is waived on most green property assets, such as, recycling centers. Further, other benefits reallionaires accrue from buying GRE, include, tax rebate, tax credit, carbon credit, Government loan guarantees, grants and feed-in-tariffs. Such incentives and promotional policies helped in making this sector recession proof over the last five years.

Third, but not last, reallionaies are in love with green property assets because, unlike other assets, it offers property investors three to four sources of income. Generally most property assets give investors a rental income (depending on the type of owner structure used). Neverheless, in addition to rental income, GRE provides investors with carbon credit income and feed in tariff income. Reallionaires become mega rich by acquiring high performing assets that provide them with multiple streams of income. To this end, it is abundantly clear why reallionaires and other super investors are chasing green real estate assets.

To date, most of the world's wealthiest property investors have bought into the green real estate phenomenon. Reallionaires, such as, Samuel Zell, Vincent Tchenquiz, The Duke of Westmister and John Whittaker and more, have all invested millions in this fast growing lucrative sector. In addition to reallionaires, there are a number of super rich entrepreneurs who also jump on the green property bandwagon, including, Michael Dell, Warren Buffet and the Google founders.

To find out how you can make millions by investing in the top 10 green real estate assets today, email the author: info@ktcunningham.org

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Build An Eco Home And Save Money

Mark Edwards lived in a draughty Georgian house in the village of Shrawley in Worcestershire. He and his wife felt that they were fuel poor and were constantly frustrated with the soaring cost of fuel bills for their home. Their son joined an eco-action committee at school and through this initiative he urged his parents into thinking green. As a result they decided to build an eco house in the garden of their home which would incorporate all of the latest green technology available.

The project did not go smoothly and there were huge delays because they lost their builder and therefore Mark had to become project manager, it took four years to actually finish the project. During this time his wife Lucy wanted the existing house to be as eco friendly as possible and so Mark put the other house, known as Valley Views, on the market for £ 550,000. Mark at this time was exhausted through his efforts on Valley Views and cash-poor. However due to his enthusiasm he is now an advisor on the Grand Designs road shows tour.

Mark was inspired by the Guerkin building in London when he designed his home and wanted the house to reflect it but he had to think about what the planners would actually accept. So the house has an unusual curved wall in reference to the Guerkin with magnificent rural views and state of the art energy saving capacity. The four bedroom house costs just £ 3 a day heat and installed in the rooms are skirting board radiators, sheep's wool insulation and a warm and cold air filtering system. There is no need for a kettle in the house because a hot water tap produces water which is at boiling point; kettles are often referred to as using short sharp amounts of electricity so this device certainly helps the electricity bills.

Mark had to travel to Germany to meet with someone who knew all about the latest German technologies and how he could adapt them to the British climate and houses. British weather is a lot damper than Germany so the technologies had to adapt to this. As a result some of these ideas were then incorporated into the family's old house which has now reduced its carbon footprint by an amazing 47%. Many other people around the country are doing just the same in their homes and are urging British builders and architects to do the same.

At present when people are buying a house it is not their green credentials which sell it to them but mostly its price, position and appearance unfortunately. Andrew Yates of Eco Arc Architects has been building groundbreaking carbon neutral homes in Findhorn in Scotland since 1986 and has noticed that green building is becoming a lot more main stream. His clients now include the National Trust and the Royal Horticultural Society as well as doctor's surgeries and individual homes. Individual homes that he has worked on range from £ 180,000 up to £ 1.4million, so all sorts of homeowners are deciding that they are best way to go is green.

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Building A Luxury Eco-Friendly Home

It seems that the affluent “eco farmers” are helping the self build market boom. Programs such as Grand Designs have had an impact on the self build market which is witnessing the luxury end of the self build market growing faster than ever before. It seems that the Waitrose generation, who are being classed as the well off eco farmers, are looking for their dream plot so that they can build their dream home.

Typically it is 20% to 30% cheaper to build your home rather than buy it ready-made, this creates a premium once the house is completed. Sometimes the premium is a lot higher than the self builder originally thought. One such example is Warwick Raymen who runs a glazing firm. He bought 12 acres of land in Croydon, Cambridgeshire so that he could build an eco-friendly farm house. The cost of the land was £ 590,000 and the cost to build the house was around £ 300,000. However the end value of the farmhouse is an astonishing £ 1.25million which is an uplift of 40% more than the entire cost.

A self builder also pays less tax because if you buy a home you have to pay stamp duty on the value of the house. However if you build one then you only pay the duty on the value of the land if the land cost more than £ 125,000. If the land cost you less than £ 125,000 then you do not pay anything. In terms of the building materials that you use throughout the build, you can also claim the VAT back on them.

For some of these self builders money is no object especially if their plot involves demolishing an existing house to build again. Because there are a shortage of premium plots, especially in places like London, buying an existing house only to destroy it and start again is becoming increasingly popular. However doing it this way is not really eco-friendly. Other options are previously commercial or light industrial sites as you can find these sites in residential areas such as London. The only hurry is getting the local planning authority to change the use of the site.

Mortgage companies are lending to self builders. Property developers may be finding it harder in this economic climate but if you are building the house as a family home then you can get finance. Some facts around the self build market are: –

£ 220,000 is the average cost of a self build project in the UK, so your eco-friendly home may be within your reach and is not just for the really rich.

In the coming few years the self build market is expected to double in size.

There are more than 20,000 homes built every year in the UK as self build projects.

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Your Guide to Green and Eco-Friendly Leases

With all that is happening in the world today – global warming, hurricanes, typhoons, flash floods, tsunamis and earthquakes, one can easily feel alarmed about the condition of Mother Nature. We do not need to be superheroes and have super powers to save the earth because we can help with our own little ways. One way is by making sure that we are living as concerned as we can be to our environment.

Good thing that there are increasing numbers of people including public officials, athletes, musicians and celebrities trying to spread awareness about living green or eco-friendly. You can follow this act in various ways – avoid using plastic bags, using hair spray nets, heavily polluted car and others. Well, this article will focus on helping you find and decorate an apartment to be green and eco-friendly. This is one way to start your quest to do your part to help Mother Nature.

1. Consider eco-friendly furniture – It is recommended to avoid big warehouse brands and instead set for materials that are made of organic materials such as bamboo, organic cotton and other recycled items. This is not only helping the environment but also a good way to help you save lots of money. Let us admit it, it is far more expensive to buy big warehouse brands compared to those that are made from bamboo and other organic products. However, we can not say that eco-friendly furniture downgrade your standards because in fact there are lots of manufacturers out there who come up with real piece of arts using organic materials.

2. Paint your walls with soy paint – Do you want to renovate your apartment by coming up with new paint colors? Then why not consider using soy paint? Soy paint is non-toxic, durable alternative that is perfect alternative for commercial paints. This reduces indoor pollution so make your house green and eco-friendly.

3. Reuse things that you can – Let us not only be eco-friendly but also practical by using things that can be recycled and used afterwards. It is advisable to use washable towels compared to paper towels as one good example.

4. Conserve water – Sometimes we take for granted simple things like running water while we are brushing our teeth or while we wash the car using water hose. This may sound shallow but if we will calculate every ounce or liter of water that was wasted in a year, we would be surprised to know that it can suffice to a family's one-year supply of water. So, make sure to conserve water, use glass when you brush your teeth and use bucket and tub instead of water hose when watering the plants or washing the car.

Based on some surveys, 86% of Americans would prefer to live in a green and eco-friendly apartment. Therefore, it is really advisable to start considering the tips mentioned in this article and help increase the 86% numbers who are willing to do their share to help the environment. This is not only for our own sake but this is most importantly helpful for the next generation.

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