Category Archives: Going Green

Green Real Estate – A Growing Trend

The sustainable real estate concept is not a new one. For the past few years, architects have been designing energy-efficient buildings for companies as a way to trim costly utility fees. Recently, however, home builders have begun implementing the same innovation in residential construction, expecting green houses to become a popular and possibly dominating trend over the next few decades. This is all part of a world-wide effort to balance energy needs and available resources. What remains to be seen is what changes to the housing market will occur in that time.

Sustainable homes will have a number of major benefits. Most importantly, at least for homeowners, the savings that will result from reduced energy usage will be substantial. In the interest of environment-conscious residents, these homes will have a positive and lasting impact, and families can feel confident knowing they are making a contribution. In fact, studies show that home buyers are more likely to pay higher prices for homes with energy-saving characteristics.

Don’t expect people to leap on board just yet. Before investing, potential buyers want to know what will happen to the property value after they’ve lived there for 5 to 10 years. Researchers have conducted various studies that show a correlation between lower utility costs and increased property value. This may be due to the growth in energy demands expected to take place over the next 35 years. According to a North Carolina Energy Star report, the value of an energy efficient home is estimated to increase $20.73 for each dollar saved.

Electricity and ventilation are two key areas that will significantly impact energy costs. For new homes, that means solar panels and energy efficient windows. Specialized windows, particularly those that are double pane, can help regulate the amount of cool air and heat that escapes, which will reduce the energy needed to run heating and cooling units. In addition to purely money-saving benefits, healthier environments, which can be credited to reduced air-born contaminates, offer plenty of motivation form home seekers.

One of the specific recommendations that Than Merrill, CEO of the real estate investment company Fortunebuilders recommends is to replace that old energy-inefficient water heater. “Tankless water heaters only heat water on demand. That way, you do not have the extra energy consumption occurring when hot water is not being used.”

Residents, especially first-timers, should always be aware of the potential cost of utilities when considering a budget strategy. Those planning to settle in for several years, which is often the case, should take into account factors that are known to affect the home’s value. As green property becomes more common, their sustainable features should become more influential throughout the decision making process.

France Passes Law to Promote Green Roofs

Environmentalism is fast becoming a top concern in France – a rooftop concern, to be precise. Excitingly, the nation has just passed new legislation that will require all upcoming commercial construction projects to feature either green roofs or solar panels above their top floors.

By now, most people are at least passingly familiar with the benefits of solar panels, but green roofs remain unknown to the general public. A green roof is one that is covered in lush plant life, and the perks extend well beyond the aesthetic. Because green roofs help to insulate, buildings are able to slash seasonal energy costs for both heating and air conditioning by approximately 25 percent.

That alone should be incentive for buildings to add a “plantscape” to their roofs, but the advantages don’t end there. Green roofs also help to reduce water runoff during rainstorms, combat air pollution, provide food for the buildings’ residents, and even make a good home for birds that are normally displaced by urban development.

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Five Notable Green Buildings in America

The U.S. Green Building Council

Naturally, the USGBC is a pioneer in the green building industry, practicing what they preach with a LEED Platinum-certified headquarters in DC. The building features a, “eco-corridor,” a two-story waterfall (which serves a purpose–it regulates the building’s indoor climate) and an energy meter that gives updated feedback. Walls are gilded with repurposed good and they take advantage of as much natural light as possible in the workplace, making the headquarters a leader in sustainability and functionality.

California Academy of Sciences

Within the walls of the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco (which are comprised of floor-to-ceiling German glass which minimizes cooling energy while maximizing natural light) are all kinds of innovative ways to keep the building sustainably sound and preserve our natural resources. 90 percent of all regularly occupied spaces in the building are lit by daylight and have stunning outside views, and the green roof serves as a home for wildlife.

The Empire State Building

When President of Malkin Holdings (owner of the Empire State Building) Tony Malkin decided that “bike racks and showers are not going to change the world,” he took matters into his own hands in 2009 with a retrofit for the Empire State Building. Within three years, the program cut $7.5 million in energy costs. Recognizing that commercial buildings account for around 80 percent of the energy used in New York, Malkin partnered with organizations to transform the iconic landmark, complete with LED lights, window refurbishment, efficient lighting and tenant energy management.

Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies

On the campus of Oberlin College in Ohio, the Lewis Center is equipped with solar panels, geothermal air systems and biodegradable upholstery, making the zero-energy building a mecca for environmental studies. It would have qualified for a LEED Platinum building, had the LEED system been established prior to the building.

Lance Armstrong Foundation

A 1950s warehouse was renovated several years ago to become the headquarters of Lance Armstrong’s Foundation in Austin, Tex. They recycled 88% of the building’s original material to create a multifunctional office space, complete with north-facing windows, dining facilities, and a gym. The building boasts a LEED Gold Certification.