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.

6 Green House Considerations

Because of the many environmental concerns, threats and considerations, many buyers, as well as homeowners, today, have become more – and – more concerned with various factors, often referred to as green real estate. There are many considerations, and variations, as well as degrees of greening individuals are interested in. Some (however a minority) are real environmentalists, and want their home, to exhibit their concern and attention, to this very important issue. Others merely want to proceed in a somewhat balanced manner, and want to include reasonable green characteristics. This article will be a basic one, and discuss, in general terms, 6 considerations, regarding making your home, a greener one.

1. Windows and doors: Obviously, energy conservation is a major environmental concern. We often speak about a business’ carbon footprint, but, obviously, certain houses are far more energy – efficient than others. When were your windows replaced and/ or upgraded, and are they efficient? Do they keep out most of the cold, in the winter, and minimize the amount of heat, which enters in the hottest weather? What materials are your windows and doors, made of? Do your doors leak? Begin by having someone do an energy inspection, and see if you are losing much heat, because of inefficiencies. Doors can often be made more efficient, by having them re – hung, and putting a properly installed, sweep, on the bottom of the door. How much money, and energy are you wasting?

2. Solar, geo – thermal, etc: Some houses are candidates for solar panels, while others are not! What direction does your roof face? Are there any large trees blocking your roof? How many hours a day, of sun, does your roof, experience? Have you had your home examined, to discover whether you might be a good candidate for geo – thermal? This often requires a combination and evaluation of your property, pitch, location, and layout.

3. Energy – efficient burners/ boilers, and air conditioners: When was the last energy efficiency evaluation, you had performed? How old is your burner/ boiler, and is it efficient? What type of air conditioning do you use, and what it the Energy Efficiency Rating?

4. Roof: Light – colored roofs reflect heat, while darker ones, absorb it. Therefore, doesn’t it make sense, that warmer climates should use lighter ones, and colder ones, darker? What is the material being used? Is it efficient, effective and safe? How old is the roof?

5. Insulation: What is the rating of your insulation, and how well insulated, is the house? Have the walls (especially outside ones) checked, for efficiency? Older houses tend not to have updated insulation, or may contain less than the safest materials. An ounce of prevention, makes lots of sense!

6. Materials: Are you using safe, sustainable materials, in your house? This is generally more relevant, in newer houses, or extensions, but if you are concerned with the environment, you should consider the sustainability, safety and impacts of your home!

There are numerous environmental considerations. Whether you are truly committed to the environment, or merely want to be responsible, and save money (and be safer), it makes sense to think green!

Focus on Green Homes – Landscaping to Save Energy

Landscaping a home in green manner is an important part of planning and building your green home. Landscaping consumes a lot of water and maintaining your yard can produce a large amount of carbon monoxide. Green landscaping means selecting plants that reduce the amount of water used to keep them alive.

For the lawn, plant grass that grows very slowly and requires very little water to survive. By planting this type of grass, your lawn would not need to be mowed every week, but maybe only a few times a summer, reducing the amount of exhaust from your mowing activities. Also since water bills are usually calculated by consumption, the less water the yard requires, the lower the water bill.

For the plants and bushes around the home, select hardy plants. Hardy plants are less susceptible to diseases and damaging pests, allowing you to forego or eliminate pesticides and fertilizers. The less of these chemicals that are used the better it is for the environment, reducing the amount of chemicals that run-off of plants during a rainstorm and soak into the ground. This type of run-off of pesticides and fertilizers has the potential to contaminate ground water and drinking water.

Another major consideration with green landscaping is the heat island effect. The heat island effect is heat from the home, from man-made surfaces around the home, and from the lack of appropriate landscaping. The combined heat from these sources can increase the temperature in a community noticeably. Heat islands can cause increased use of air conditioning, increased air pollution and greenhouse gas production, and lower water quality.

For your green home, this effect can make your heating and cooling systems less effective. The right types of landscaping can help prevent the heat island effect. For example, planting our hardy trees, shrubs and plants at least 24 inches away from the house can break up the heat transfer mechanism. In addition, planting deciduous trees on the west side of your green home or along driveways and walkways can be very effective for cooling the house and yard. Plan ahead, though. Trees and bushes growth over time can interfere with the effectiveness of any solar panels that are installed.

When planning your landscaping, plan to install a rain barrel as well. Why not store some of the run-off rainwater for eco-friendly, free water for watering the lawn, plants, scrubs, and trees? In addition to a rain barrel, the ground can be shaped to direct water coming from the roof and the ground during a rainstorm to collect around the plants, shrubs, and trees in the yard. This allows the earth to do your work for you. As the water from the storm drains into the ground, the last part of the ground to dry out is the part of the lawn that received the most water, reducing the amount of tap water needed.

By taking the extra time to address these issues during the design of your green home, you can achieve a beautiful, very low maintenance and environmental-friendly landscaped yard.

LEED Advantage – Should Real Estate Agents Pursue a LEED AP Certification?

So, I wanted to learn and understand more about green buildings and all that it means. One solution I was researching led me to join the non-profit US Green Building Council (usgbc.org). This is the organization that wrote and owns the ‘LEED’ green building certifications.

LEED is a USGBC building certification system that is recognized internationally. It provide third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using strategies that improve performance. LEED also provides building owners and those who operate buildings a way to identify and implement solutions in the building design and construction process.

So, I went to a local chapter meeting in Phoenix Arizona and found out it was free for individuals to join locally, and companies join at the national level for a fee. Everyone was very helpful, and all were volunteers with regular jobs. So, feeling quite comfortable as an real estate agent, I joined and chose to volunteer with the Education Committee. Soon I had learned enough to help at tradeshows with the USGBC booth, and it turned out to be fun and very enjoyable.

But back to the LEED AP designation (Accredited Professional). I purchased a thick textbook for about $200 that had chapters and chapters of information to help me pass the big certification exam. Available courses were available, but I want to study on my own. It was college all over again for me with memorization. Some of the terms and concepts were not very familiar and required more online research (i.e. ASHRAE, VOC, etc.). You see, my college degree was in Accounting and my MBA in Finance. I was actually doing well for awhile in the memorization department. I was starting to make sense. Speakers at monthly meetings were kind to ‘dumb down’ their presentations to those in the audience like me. Thank goodness!

There were only a handful of LEED AP professionals in the local Chapter. I decided it would be a differentiating item if I were LEED AP certified. I kept on the slow study program, and am still on it to this day. Since the concept of a ‘green building’ is becoming more popular, it is also more complex. But, the idea to understand and be part of a growing megatrend is still of great interest. I am continuing my studies on the side. The USGBC has introduced a lower level ‘Green Associate’ for those more interested in the basic concepts. That is where I am now going.

Come join in the fun. Let’s do it together!

Green Homes for Sale

If you were looking at real estate ads and saw one that stated “green homes for sale”, you may at first wonder why anyone would a listing stating the color of their home. This is not what this type of ad means. It is just stating that the homes for sale are earth friendly and energy efficient. Green homes for sale are being built in an effort to less the carbon footprints we leave behind.

When you purchase a green home they will contains all or some of the following features that are earth friendly.

• Fiber cement siding

• Alternative power system like wind and solar

• Recycled building insulation

• No VOC stains and paints, which stands for volatile organic compound. It is any compound that is carbon-based and will vaporize at standard room temperatures. Some of the more prevalent ones are formaldehyde, acetone, and methane.

• Solar powered hot water heating

Even if you do not live in a green home, there are things that you can do to increase your energy conservation. It will even help contribute to saving our environment. Making your home a green home can help to reduce global warning and save the homeowner money. It will significantly better the environment and require little effort for the homeowner.

Making a green home

• Instead of using the standard incandescent light bulbs start to use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). When you switch to the CFL’s you can save per year over a hundred dollars. You can find these lights in the same aisle as your regular bulbs but they are little more expensive. In the United States, if every house switches the type of light bulbs they were using to CFL’s there would be a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of one trillion pounds.

• Install a thermostat that is programmable-with this type of thermostat the homeowner can program the thermostat so that the air conditioner or heater is off when homeowners are not at home. The programmable thermostat can be programmed so that it will cool or heat your home shortly before the homeowner arrives home. This change could save the homeowner ten percent or more on cooling and heating costs

• Plug air leaks-this will help the homeowner save money and practice conservation. You can do this by installing weather stripping, keep the temperature in your home from rapidly fluctuating, and caulk windows correctly to stop air drafts.

• Energy StarĀ® rated appliances-these reduce the amount of electricity that is needed to operate them so they have less of an impact on the environment. They will also save on your energy bill.

If you are buying a home, choose energy efficient green homes for sale.

Environmentally Friendly Homes – What to Look For When Investing in Green Property

It is not enough that you know you want to dwell in an eco-friendly house. It is not enough that you settle on the first house you see that is up for sale and available for occupancy. Not all homes are the same. Even when they are tagged environment-friendly, the tag alone doesn’t mean that you are about to get the benefits you want. Here are some common factors that you should look for when investing your money in a home that is both eco and family-friendly.

Use of recycled materials

Green homes aren’t that plentiful yet. Although builders are slowly catching on the demand, years are still to be counted before they become mainstream. As such, one of the things you could look for when scouting for that eco-friendly home of your choice is by looking at the construction materials used. If your eyes are not that keen on differentiating recycled or salvaged from new materials, you might ask the seller on the types of materials used in the construction. If you are lucky, you can find a fitting choice that might have utilized recycled steel and wall panels. The insulation might be old clothes like used denims. Or better yet, there are fabricated construction materials that make use of more recycled materials than the raw ingredients making them more eco-friendly than their other counterparts.

Advantageous use of the natural environment

Developers are now growing wise with the erection of new construction homes by using the natural environment where they are built. Look for homes that have grabbed the advantageous use of the natural setting. The windows should be built where natural light from the outside environment can adequately enter. This should minimize the use of your lighting fixtures even at the earliest times of the day. Never settle in a house that claims it is eco-friendly when the windows are poorly built attempting to resolve the aesthetics only and not the functionalities.

Pre-installed alternative sources of energy

Another factor you should look for when buying an environment-friendly house is associated with the methods being used to lessen the use of commercial electricity. The installation of solar panels and wind turbines may be too costly. Yet, in the long run you are about to reap the return of investment in form of savings on your utility bill.

Investing in an eco-friendly house is typically costly than standard construction homes. The number of its kind is not that huge as compared to other housing units. But by considering the factors discussed above, you are one step away in purchasing the environment-friendly house of your choice as commensurate to your budget and preferences.

Choosing the Best Green Home Builder

Today many people are “going green”, which means that they are becoming environmentally friendly in how they live their lives and minimizing the harm done to the earth. When some people decide to build their home from the bottom up, they decide to have a green home builder build their home. This contractor would build their home with low environmental and energy efficiency in mind. To find a green home builder you should talk to the contractors in your area. Some that will travel to your area to build your home but their services will add more expense to the cost of your home.

To ensure that you will have the best green home builder ask them what type of building material they will use. You should also inquire about their disposal methods to make sure they are in compliant with sustainability practices. The materials that they should use are non-toxic when possible, and environmentally friendly. They should also be materials that come from renewable sources, or sustainable material. This can include materials from homes that have been knocked down. This material can include old doors, cabinets, some of the wood to accent the home such as using the material for ceiling beams, and more. They should try to avoid using plastics and choose their wood carefully. You should ask to see examples of the green projects they have completed. Their construction philosophy should focus on green building. It should not just focus on using green techniques as a secondary technique. Make sure that the contract you sign states that it will be constructed from sustainable and green material.

A home builder may tell you that they are using green building techniques but it could be easy for them to start using less environmentally friendly techniques and designs to save money on materials so they can put more money in their pockets. This is why you need to be sure that they are a reputable home builder and have good references as a green construction company. They need to be knowledgeable about green techniques and processes and committed to green construction and design. If you want your new green custom built home to be built using unconventional techniques make sure the home builder can demonstrate they understand the techniques you want and can do them correctly.

Before you choose a green home builder, you should educate yourself on what constitutes a green home and the process to build one. This will help you to determine a good green home builder and to know if they are cutting corners using non-environmentally friendly material. Having a green home can save you money on heating and cooling costs, and if sustainable material is used it can save these materials from being disposed of improperly.