Garden Apartments

This residential apartment is located on landscaped property that is at ground level. This term loosely describes any apartment on the first floor. It also includes a basement apartment or one in a high rise. If it is a real garden apartment, there will be no household, or apartment, above it. They are spread out horizontally in an open courtyard. You can find these apartments worldwide.

Such an apartment will have one or two bedrooms but you can find some that have three or more bedrooms, especially if they are used as a vacation apartment. The more bedrooms there are the more people they can accommodate when on vacation and renting the apartment. If it is an apartment that is rented out long term it is generally not furnished. If the apartment is rented out on a weekly or monthly basis for vacations, it will be furnished. Garden apartments may also have one or two stories. The common area can include outdoor amenities like a swimming pool, tennis or basketball courts, a spa or clubhouse. The entrance to the apartment could be off the courtyard or the street.

The owners of the garden apartments are responsible for the outdoor area being kept up with the lawn mowed, any outdoor equipment cleaned, clean swimming pool without leaves and other debris, etc. Many owners will plant the area with well cared for trees and floors. If it is an apartment complex and you have a pet you need to find out if there is a special area for the dogs. Make sure that you clean up after your dog once it has finished its business. Your garden apartment may have a small yard or patio. If your garden apartment has either of these two amenities, it would be a good place to have friends and family over for a barbeque.

Each garden apartment is a separate household unit but all of the tenants share any amenities, such as a swimming pool or exercise room and the main outside grounds. The apartments have their own controls for the heat and air conditioning and bathroom and kitchen facilities. In some places, it may be called a walk-up garden apartment because it has an outdoor staircase. With garden apartment complexes that offer premium services like a weight and exercise room or sauna may be charged an extra monthly fee to help with the upkeep and have a key to let them into these facilities. By having a key, it prevents those that choose not to pay the extra fee from using these premium facilities. Some may even have a laundry room for the residents. The rent for a garden apartment would be much the same as a regular apartment but it depends on the location and amenities.

Green Home Building Trends For 2010

Although the building industry had a dark year in 2009, Green building seemed to somehow stick out and shine. According to the Multiple Listing Service date, certified sustainable green new homes actually rose the past year in the northern west coast areas like Portland and Seattle. This trend is believed to spread over the U.S. and green building is expected to grow within new home sales. Already new home sales are on a rise from a year ago with March of 2010 seeing the biggest jump in new home sales in 47 years. So what trends can we expect to see in 2010 in green new homes?

1. Energy Monitoring Home Dashboards. The increasing demand for energy efficient homes, the development of a custom web-based display panel within the home, will show real-time home energy use. This sophisticated produced can break down the real time energy use of homeowners appliances, which will help a homeowner change the way they use their electricity. For example the way an electric car miles per gallon indicator encourages the owner to adapt their driving habits, new homes that offer these Dashboards may encourage homeowners to reach lower energy use. Dashboards will also increase the probability that homeowners of green homes will reach the Energy Performance Score.

2. Energy Efficient Green Home Labeling. Like the miles per gallon label you would find when searching for a new car, energy rating systems for new homes has become popular among legislators. This energy rating system will make it easier for home buyers to see the energy efficiency of one green home compared to another. Each homes score will be available on the MLS.

3. Lenders and Green Homes Make for a Better Bottom Line. Lenders have come to the conclusion that green new homes are better for their bottom line. By seeing a trend of green home owners being more responsible and less probable to default on a loan, due to the fact that most green home owners are more accountable and likely to place higher value on home maintenance. Home owners are also less likely to default due to the decrease in energy coast within their green home. Lenders are now working to get reduced-rate loans and insurance packages for green new home owners.

4. Less Is More. Back when the housing market was booming, a larger homes lead to greater equity. However since that “bubble burst” this is no longer the case. With energy prices expected to rise over time, and the Federal Reserve likely to raise interest rates during 2010, home buyers are likely to feel more at ease with smaller new homes.

5. Water Conservation. Did you know that residential water usage accumulates for more than half of the public water supplied? The EPA decided in December 2009 to implement WaterSense. WaterSense specifies that new homes will need to reduce water use by 20 percent than conventional new home. Mandatory energy labeling in Europe already documents the water efficiency.

6. Net Zero Homes. A net zero home is a green home that generates more energy than it uses over a year. This is done by building a fairly small new home that is extremely energy efficient and uses on site renewable energy like wind, solar or geo-exchange systems.

How To Get Your Solar Energy Tax Credit

There are a lot of good reasons to go solar for your home or business. Many Bay Area homeowners have a solar system installed to protect themselves and their families against rising energy rates. While it is difficult to forecast exactly how much electricity costs will rise, or how quickly, one thing is certain – they will continue to go up. Conversely, an investment in solar for your home or business not only decreases or even entirely eliminate monthly electricity costs, it can also increase the property value of a home and lower the operating costs of a business. A third and very important financial incentive is the federal government’s generous solar energy tax credit.

The solar energy tax credit allows a homeowner to reduce the amount of income tax that they would otherwise have to pay the federal government. This credit is good for 30 percent of homeowner’s investment in their solar system, including solar panels, a charge converter, battery, and inverter, but only for the next three years. The credit will drop to 26 percent in 2020, and 22 percent in 2021. After 2021, the solar energy tax credit for residential customers will be eliminated entirely. While there is a chance the credit could be extended, many homeowners considering solar are planning to install their systems within the next few years to take advantage of the credit.

For commercial businesses looking to go more green, they can qualify for up to 70% off with solar tax incentives. Not only will you qualify for a 30% Federal Tax Credit but you can accelerate the depreciation of your solar system over 5 short years. These tax incentives are equivalent to 60%-70% of the system cost, leaving you needing only 3-4 years of energy savings to recover your entire investment.

In addition to the financial benefits of the solar energy tax credit, many people choose to go solar because they feel solar energy is a more environmentally responsible solution. Solar energy is both sustainable and renewable. Solar energy provides a zero-emission way to power buildings, and appliances, heat water, and refuel electric vehicles. The more popular and widespread that rooftop or carport solar panels become, the more they reduce the load on coal-burning power plants.

With buildings accounting for 38 percent of all carbon emissions in the U.S., going solar can significantly decrease our carbon footprint. A typical residential solar panel system will eliminate three to four tons of carbon emissions each year-the equivalent of planting over 100 trees annually. Going solar is not only a great way to go green, but taking advantage of the solar energy tax credit – before it expires – is a great way to save some green.

Beat The Rising Energy Costs With Green Building Trends

Green building trends are becoming increasingly popular among builders, architects and homeowners with every passing year. With growing environmental awareness, more and more people want recycled and sustainable materials to be incorporated in renovation or construction of their houses. They also favor homes which use design and construction techniques developed to improve the indoor air quality and energy efficiency of the house. Apart from enabling the homeowners to feel great about reducing their carbon footprint, eco-friendly building techniques also provide them lifelong savings on the utility bills.

A green home does not need to be like a geodesic dome or a yurt, like the eco-houses that were built a few decades ago. The idea behind building green homes is to save energy. So, it does not matter what size, style or design you opt for, as long as the house is energy-efficient. All types of green buildings have low cooling and heating costs, as they incorporate the principles of solar designs. Today, green building has emerged as a budding segment of home renovation and construction market. This is the reason why, nowadays, you can find numerous vendors exhibiting eco-friendly building services and products.

Nearly all architecture firms specialize in green or sustainable building designs and offer products, like energy-efficient appliances, recycled plastic roof shingles and many more. These companies can offer great help to families that are struggling financially, by helping them lower their rising energy bills. In fact, real estate agents too feel that eco-friendly architecture components act as an added benefit for their property listings. This is because in the current relaxed residential property market home buyers often get more selective while choosing a house. The long-term savings of green houses therefore make for a tempting property package. This also means green homes sell faster than traditional houses and also, at a better price.

Besides, banks and other financial institutions are also realizing the great investment value of green construction. So, you would also see many of them offering more encouraging terms for loan to customers, wanting to borrow money for buying green homes. All these factors are responsible for the increasing popularity of green building trends. Just as people are turning away from the vehicles consuming high amount of fuel and opting for the ones that are fuel-efficient, they are hesitating to live in the traditionally designed homes.

Today, skyrocketing utility bills is a big concern for every homeowner. Thus, buying a green house or making green renovations in the current house is a great way to beat the rising energy costs. To make the most of green building trends, you can look for a capable green architect, builder or constructor, who can help you build or design an eco-friendly house. Apart from proffering financial benefits, green living can also give you numerous health benefits. For instance, improved indoor air quality significantly reduces the risk of many respiratory diseases.

The Eco Realtor

I am a big talker and doer when it comes to the environment. I believe that with what we know today, it would be disrespectful and completely unconscious to not make decisions based on the environment and what we know, especially considering that there are many choices available today. We all need guidance, so here are a few tips for you realtors to make a big impact.

1. Drive a hybrid. Because 33% of CO² that is being produced is from transportation (Sources of CO² in he US as of 2004). This conscious change in vehicles would make the biggest impact of all. We spend A LOT of time in our cars and when you are in the market for a new one…think green. For all you show-off realtors who need to have the best of the best, hybrids are very trendy and hip. The choices that are coming out for 2009/2010 are swanky. Google “new hybrids” and you’ll see.

2. Recycle and reuse. How many listings do you print off that you end up not using or even keeping? Lots! Please recycle. Or better yet, turn them over and re-print on the good side. I do it all the time. It’s my copy and when it is noticed by the buyer, I can brag how I am saving the environment. You’ll be saving some coin in your pocketbook too.

3. Use electronics. Instead of driving all over to get signatures, please fax, scan, or email. As long as you pick up the originals in the end, it all works out. You’ll not only save emissions from driving, money for gas, but your time as well. Another great electronic device is the PDA (or Blackberry, iPhone…whatever works for you). You’ll be saving a lot of trees and you can sync it with your computer making you more organized.

4. Encourage your work to go eco. If they don’t already recycle mention it every time you go in. They’ll get the idea. Ask to receive notices by email and not by paper. Ask them not to put junk mail into your mail box. Tell them about natural cleaning products. If that doesn’t motivate them, donate some!

Love your work and your environment. Passion goes a long way and so does thinking (and doing) about what type of impact your have. Or….just ignore the environment, it will go away.

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 mandatory 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 disclose 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 visually appealing. We don’t 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.

Custom Building a Green Home

Considering building a new custom home? Today’s new homes can easily incorporate green features that will not only make a difference in your comfort level but reduce the cost to operate – heating/cooling/electrical and water consumption. Good green construction techniques can also increase the longevity of your home by using techniques that minimize conditions that may damage your home.

These days, green home building is becoming more and more main stream. Custom builders and production builders now commonly incorporate green building techniques into their new homes.

So before you move the first shovel full of dirt consider some green building strategies. Here is a checklist of areas to research when considering a new home project:

1. Energy Efficiency

a) Low infiltration construction

b) Upgraded insulation systems

c) Properly size heat/ac systems

d) Framing & sheathing – size/insulation value

e) Lighting types for efficiency – CFL and/or LED

f) Optional Lighting Efficiencies – Dimmers

g) Select Energy Star appliances

2. Water Efficiency

a) High efficiency fixtures (toilet/shower heads)

b) High efficiency appliances

c) Engineered plumbing systems

3. Indoor Air Quality

a) Sealed air ducts

b) Properly size heat/ac systems

c) Combustion safety

d) Engineered air flow -fresh air & spot ventilation

e) Internal air pressure balancing

f) Internal humidity control

g) Low off gassing paint & products

h) Low off gassing carpets

4. Durability

a) Optimal engineered framing

b) Air & thermal barrier

c) Internal humidity management

d) Durable material selections – use of green building materials

e) Low maintenance building materials

See the Energy Star program for more information on energy efficient homes.

Solar Energy Is Booming, But Which Sites Are in Demand in 2016?

Solar innovation is reaching critical mass, opening new markets and driving solar developers to new real estate.

With solar PV (photovoltaic) costs collapsing by four-fifths in the last five years, and demand for renewable energy picking up, a perfect storm for solar energy installation is emerging. Incentives and tax breaks still make a big financial difference-and Congress did its part with the extension of the solar tax credit in the omnibus bill at the end of 2015.

There are also many state and local incentives and policies designed to encourage solar energy development, like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s recent announcement of a $5 billion renewable energy plan. Keeping track of the multitude of solar incentives can be a challenge but the website DSIRE keeps a comprehensive and updated source of information on incentives and policies supporting renewables and energy efficiency. This invaluable tool helps navigate the landscape of overlapping policies to help determine where particular incentives apply, and for whom.

But as solar energy innovation continues to accumulate and solar prices continue to plummet, the day solar out-competes fossil fuels and nuclear without any supportive incentives is finally within sight. Small, expensive residential rooftop installations-beginning with the kind Jimmy Carter put on top of the White House in the 70’s-have evolved into no-money-down lease arrangements that are widely accessible to homeowners and business owners in many markets. Massive commercial installations are also less expensive and slimming down. Whereas 20 or 30+ acres were necessary in the past, now developers are pursuing 10 and even 5-acre projects with the right conditions. And new models, such as community solar, are slimming acreage needs even further.

‘Community solar’ refers to community-owned projects or third party-owned installations whose electricity is shared by a community-sometimes referred to as a solar garden. The primary purpose of community solar is to give multiple households or members of a community the opportunity to share the benefits of solar power even if they cannot or prefer not to install solar panels on their own property. As residential solar developers have discovered during the mini-boom of the past cycle, many rooftops are simply not suitable for solar installation.

Community solar developers are opening new markets by approaching geography in new ways, looking to develop sites as small as 2.5 acres or less and developing multiple micro-sites together. This opens up the potential of many areas where the inventory of suitable large-scale sites is very low-such as the northeast, particularly in populated areas along the coast. Rural and remote areas have large available parcels, but can lack infrastructure and connectivity. Larger installations can also face regulations imposed by state and federal agencies to avoid, minimize, or mitigate habitat loss or fragmentation.

Smaller solar installations are especially good matches for urban markets with fewer ecosystem impacts, existing infrastructure, more end-user demand and high inventories of smaller sites. Underutilized greyfield and brownfield real estate is ideally-suited for solar use because it can be a less expensive reuse (compared to typical commercial or residential uses) and still generates income and/or saves utility costs for the user. As former industrial and commercial properties, greyfields and brownfields tend to be in areas with ready access to existing infrastructure such as electric transmission lines and substations necessary to load excess power on the utility grid. More contaminated real estate and landfills have highly constricted reuse options, and solar development is an add-on that layers a productive use atop entombed waste-green on brown. The sale of electricity from solar energy production could net a municipal landfill owner hundreds of thousands of dollars in new annual revenue.

EPA encourages solar development of landfills and brownfield property through its Re-Powering America’s Land Initiative program, which educates and advocates stakeholders on the positive benefits of making brightfields out of brownfields. Traditional solar developers prefer sites that are closed and have a final remedy in place, with limited or no ongoing regulatory requirements. Properties with open incidents or incomplete remediation can delay build-out and slow down solar developers who prefer to move quickly and not deal with extraneous, non-solar concerns. But a growing number of developers are willing to come in early and be patient for the right development on the right real estate. For owners of contaminated sites, the cost savings captured by remediating a property with a solar energy reuse in mind can be substantial because brightfields are unoccupied and can therefore require a less intensive cleanup and less regulatory and legal liability concern going forward.

The specific characteristics and requirements of a suitable location for solar energy production vary somewhat depending on the technology and developer. In general, the site must have good access for construction and maintenance, no access for pedestrians, and elevation beyond any floodplain. The slope should generally be less than 35 degrees. In the Northern Hemisphere, the aspect should be south facing or horizontal because solar panels located on south-facing slopes will have a higher solar power output than those located on north-facing slopes. The site should receive some minimum amount of solar radiation per year, and any shading should be removable.

Does your site sound like a match? Are you a brownfield owner looking to list your property and connect to solar developers? You can sign up to list for free in a brightfield portfolio dedicated to marketing solar development opportunities. Use the brightfield tag when creating a listing on Brownfield Listings to connect your real estate to the solar community nationwide.

Going Green Is Not So Difficult After All

People, who are worried about the declining status of the earth, are constantly on the lookout for ways with which they can reduce the carbon footprint and the effect that they have on the environment. The main cause for the carbon footprint is the increasing dependence that one has on non-renewable sources of energy. However, to reduce this dependence there are a number of simple steps that one can take, such as driving a hybrid vehicle, using eco-friendly electric appliances and recycling and reusing, as much as possible. These steps are simple and have a great effect on the overall improvement of the condition of environment.

When it comes to home construction, there are also many ways with which you can benefit the environment. Many builders and homeowners are ready to spare no expense, when it comes to improving the look of their home. However, this can lead to wastage of a lot of materials. If builders begin to apply simple cost saving methods to their building technique, then a lot of benefits can be provided to the environment. These eco-friendly methods are simple to install and beneficial to use in the long run.

The heating of most homes is carried out by oil or gas. The past few years have seen a steady increase in the rate of such fuels and being non-renewable sources of energy, the price and need for such fuels can only increase in the near future. Shifting to alternative sources of energy, such as solar, wind and geothermal, can be a much better option. The good news is that such techniques need not be applied only by large corporations, but even small builders and homeowners can apply them and play their part in the protection of our planet.

Some of the reasons, why many people did not opt for such methods, were that people thought these eco-friendly systems to be very expensive and that they can only function in certain weather conditions. The truth is that these systems are only slightly expensive than their non eco-friendly counterparts and they tend to save you more money in the longer run with lesser electric bills. So, they provide individuals with longer term savings. Also, with the constant improvement in technology that we see around us every day, it is obvious that sooner or later cheaper alternatives will be discovered, which will make these systems affordable by everyone.

People, who have already built their own homes, might think that they do not have any option to make their homes greener. They need not worry, as already built homes can be remodeled in such a way that they can be added with extra features that will make them more eco-friendly. These days, people are getting more attracted to green innovations, as the options that are available to them are really good and also they are benefiting their environment. With better methods to save power available to us, we can do our part in saving the environment, without having to sacrifice too much at the same time.

Essential Green Factors for Real Estate – Turn Green Time for Real Estate

The factors to be considered by Construction / Real Estate firms to turn green are:

Energy Saving Electricity: – Solar Power

Moving away from first generation power usage techniques i.e. depending on Electricity generated by power plants which run on water / coal, present day Realty sectors could possibly adopt the technique of absorbing the power of Sun, otherwise named as Solar Power to generate electricity.

Solar power makes us to think of energy efficient techniques in constructing a home or gated community’s viz. quipping solar Facades in exteriors to absorb the energy of SUN, painting interiors with brighter colors to radiate more light with less power etc. The other useful power saving technique could make Realty firms in turning green is automatic power off system which helps in turning off unused electricity automatically.

Inserting solar panels, solar equipped glass facades, solar powered water heaters & illuminating systems and using energy efficient paints at interiors could really help Realty firms in turning attentive to Green Earth Revolution by reducing usage of power and coal generated electricity.

Water Storage: – Rainwater harvesting tank

Water shortage, the popularized household problem these days is the major concern for Realty builders. Against drilling down 1000 to infinite feet down the ground for water and settling with non-resulted trials, some Real Estate firms have dusted the age old technique of storing water through tanks to tap the requirement of daily necessity – WATER. With the increase in demand for water and less adequate resources to fulfill it, apartment builders adopted the Rainwater Harvesting System which possibly can resolve the water problem restricted to certain qualitative measures.

Rainwater Harvest tank is a specially paved area on the rooftop / in the courtyard of a building to store rainwater or sometimes even a gutter in the garden would help to be a water harvesting tank. Heightening these kind of water storage techniques, builders could give uninterrupted water facility to dwellers though it depends on water sources i.e. rainfall in that particular area. With the minimal concerns for clean and safety water, builders can effectively use this technique to address water related problems especially without depending on ground water levels.

Plastic Usage:- High toxic levels

Matching up with the global uproar against plastic usage and to be in the path against global warming, ‘plastic-free environments’ are rapidly dotting up the cities like never before. Plastic the excessive use of which may contaminate under ground water due to its very slow decomposition levels compared to other materials can harm the marine population and is severely hazardous for drinking water. Disposal of plastics either into water or on ground should be avoided cause of the high toxicity it has in using and by manufacturing them.

Hence, in the course to turn towards greener earth, real estate firms have the need to build their gated communities or any other form of group housing insisting on absolutely ‘Plastic – Free’ environments. Indeed, attaining plastic free environment certificate will also be beneficial in escalating flat or plot sales, is also a major factor for real estate firms to turn green.

Plantation: – Air Purification

‘How about residing amid greenery? Wake up and say good morning to 75000 Tulips’; these were the catch-up lines pitched by some of the Realty firms in recent times at Hyderabad. Having heard of the same intentional messages for numerous times, it’s been proved that Real Estate has lent its hand / land to sufficient plantation required for healthy life.

More plantations in the vicinities makes the area protected from pollution thus leads to air purification which of a great concern in giving a quality living style. Against deforestation and concrete landscapes, turning to green panoramic landscapes would fetch Realty industries to cope up with the increase in need of life style away from regular hustle – bustle with more fresh and quality breath.

Waste Management Techniques: – Landfills

Probably, the foremost hectic task confronts by contemporary construction world is managing the waste. Maintaining Garbage dumping yard popularly known as landfills, has been a difficult task for present day apartment builders as the vicinities are dotted up with concrete blocks not allowing space.

In this scenario, allotting a special slot outside / inside the row housing for garbage dump is definitely a valuable idea. It creates opportunity to be hygienic and indeed can helpful in producing bio fuel. Adding to it, with the help of Plasma we can even turn garbage into Gas which is another advantage of using dumping yard or landfills. Instead of spewing up the garbage into neighborhoods and leaving the environment more unhygienic, dumping yards are of more useful methods for Realty firms in tapping the turn of green revolution.

In this way, Realty Firms can effectively turn green by following above stringent factors.

On an ending note, though the methods like solar systems and dumping yard maintenance demands more practicality, with the little care Real Estate firms can turn to greener phase easily.