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.

GRIHA: All You Need to Know About This Green Rating in India

Getting your home a green rating can help increase its value by a lot. GRIHA rating is one of the rating systems that you can use in India. Keep reading to find out about the GRIHA rating system and how you can apply for it.

What is GRIHA?

GRIHA or Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment rates the performance of a green home in energy consumption, waste management, and renewable energy resource management.

Eligibility to Apply for a GRIHA Certificate

Any building under the design stage and covering more than 2500 square meters can apply for a GRIHA certificate. These buildings include residential buildings, office spaces, institutions, hotels, shopping complexes, hospitals and so on, but exclude any industrial units like factories and plants.

Process of Application for a GRIHA Certificate

First, you have to register your property on the GRIHA website by filling up the online registration form. Register at the pre-design stage to clarify any construction issues.

Next, you need to submit soft copies of the documents pertaining to the criteria. The final step is the evaluation, which is conducted by the Association for Development and Research of Social Habitats (ADaRSH).

How GRIHA Certifies a Building

Under the GRIHA system, the ADaRSH team evaluates green homes in India based on 34 criteria and rates them on a scale of 1 to 100. The 34 criteria fall under four sections, each section dealing with a particular aspect of building a green home. Each criterion has a number of points allotted to it for scoring purpose.

1. Site Planning

GRIHA rates green homes based on the various phases of site planning. This includes site selection, preservation of landscape, soil conservation, minimizing air pollution, provision of proper sanitary facilities for construction workers, and so on. There are 24 points allotted for this section.

2. Building Planning and Construction Stage

The building planning and construction stage is the most important criterion. This includes regulating water usage and water quality, optimization of energy demand and the performance of the building, implementation of renewable energy systems, proper waste management system using environment-friendly construction materials, and so on. GRIHA has allotted a total of 68 points for this section.

3. Building Operation and Maintenance

This phase has only 8 points and includes the preparation of the energy audit report and the protocol regarding operation and maintenance of the building infrastructure.

4. Innovation

The final criterion is innovation. Four extra points are allotted to this section. A green home can score these bonus points if it can implement new, innovative ideas on modes of alternative transportation, environmental education, and so on.

GRIHA Star Ratings for Green Homes

A green home needs to have a minimum of 50 points to be GRIHA-certified. A home is awarded a particular star rating depending on the number of points it scores.

Points Scored by a Green Home & Star Rating

  • 50-60 – 1 star
  • 61-70 – 2 star
  • 71-80 – 3 star
  • 81-90 – 4 star
  • 91-100 – 5 star

Green Certificate: What Are Its Benefits?

Are you thinking of getting green certification for your property? Do you think it’s worth it? Have you thought of the advantages or the benefits it can give you? How would you like to be in the 79% of property owners who are expected to build green properties by 2018? If you answered Yes to these questions, read the rest of the article and know the benefits of getting your property green-certified.

  • Lessened Operating Costs: The high amount of operating expenses always burden the pockets of property owners. And to think that owning a property is something that can help shape one’s future, reducing the operating costs can clearly help save more. There are many studies that support the fact that green buildings are known to have a payback of about seven to eight years depending on the types of enhancements done relevant to energy-efficiency, sustainability, and aesthetics. According to one study, the operating costs can be reduced to as much as 13%. And if an owner converts his property to rental, he can reap an increased profit of margin by charging premium rents over competitors which are not green-certified.
  • Decreased Vacancy Rates: Owners who want to secure the future of their children are likely to opt converting their homes as property rentals. And by doing green retrofits, there is an increased chance of the property always being rented. The tenants are also likely to renew their leases because of the benefits they have experienced in their first months of tenancy. Again, studies show that there is a lower vacancy rate for green buildings. They are 4% lower as compared to property rentals which are not green-certified.
  • Surge in Investor Interest: Green buildings show consistent high scores in terms of energy efficiency. They also show consistently high rates of tenant retention causing investors to be driven closer to them. If in such instance an investor wants to add your property in its portfolio, it becomes an instant proof of their company’s commitment to sustainability. It scores them a point to shareholders who always look up for the ways that the company they invest into has a social responsibility. Thus, be sure to get your property green-certified. It is a proof more than the features you’ll brag that it is green!
  • Avoid Being Tagged of Green Washing. With green buildings come the closely associated term of green washing, This term refers to labeling the building green when in fact it is not. It is a direct manifestation of lying to clients. When proven, it can bring headache to the owner and property manager. But when you’re green-certified, you are instantly get rid of this tag and won’t be labeled as such because you have proof.

Booming Green Building Market Continues to Grow

Make no mistake: the “green building” market is not only here to stay, but it’s also the wave of the future. In just the next five years, the market for buildings that incorporate alternative energy and conservation techniques will increase some $10-20 billion dollars. Yet the green building market only constituted about two percent of new construction in 2004. By 2010, that figure is expected to jump to 5-10 percent, which still represents only a tiny fraction of the immense potential of the green building market.

A recent survey showed that more than 70 percent of the architects, engineers, contractors and building owners interviewed expect a significant increase in their income from green building. Of those surveyed, some 60 percent of those industry professionals are now regularly including green techniques in their new construction projects.

Although they cost a bit more to construct, once the buildings are completed, they can save their occupants 8-9 percent in operating costs vs. conventional buildings, which can add up to significant savings over time. Recognizing the trend, builders, architects, and manufacturers are rushing to get in on the boom, which will ultimately bring down prices for consumers.

This is no longer just a few environmentally-minded homeowners placing solar collectors on their roofs to heat water. The boom is being driven by giant corporations like Ford, GM, and Adobe, companies that have incorporated green techniques into their buildings to improve their overall bottom line through increased energy savings. That trend proves that green buildings are no longer just a fad, and are definitely here to stay, because if companies can realize a quick return on their investment, they’re also quick to jump on the green building bandwagon.

Green building isn’t just the wave of the future. Green building is also the hottest “new” thing in current construction. There’s an organization called the U.S. Green Building Council that actively promotes the usage of green building techniques. If you or your company are interested in incorporating green features in your next building project, you’ll find lots of information at http://www.usgbc.org.

It all adds up to a win-win situation for everyone concerned. The building industry gets increased business, occupants save significant amounts of money, and the environment is impacted less and less. And the trend should only gain momentum as new technology makes green buildings even more efficient and less expensive.

Copyright © 2006 Jeanette J. Fisher

Benefits Of Going Green In Real Estate

There are a number of reasons why you should go green. A green lifestyle is not only good for you but also for the environment. Moreover, making eco-friendly changes in one’s life is not as costly as many people believe. For instance, walking instead of driving whenever possible is an easy green lifestyle alteration that does not cost anything, but still helps in saving the environment. Some of the most important benefits of going green are listed below –

* Home value – The value of your home would increase, if you consider using sustainable and eco-friendly materials in your house. For example, water saving toilets and solar panels can save you a lot of money on the utility bills.

* Water bills – Using appliances with energy star ratings can help you save a lot of water and cut back on your monthly water bills. The newer low flush toilets are also highly efficient and use lesser amount of water.

* Energy bills – If more and more buildings are updated with energy saving green units for water and electricity, then people would apparently consume lesser energy annually. By making such upgrades, you can also enjoy deductions and refunds on the taxes by the government.

* Durability – Eco friendly homes tend to last longer, as compared to traditional homes. Moreover, green homes do not really need painting or treating for the outdoor projects, such as decks.

* Less toxicity – Materials that are toxic in nature come out of cleaners and paints that have volatile organic compounds in them. Green or eco-friendly houses do not support the use of such materials and thus, have a good indoor air quality.

* Less waste – By building or renovating a home, using green products, the waste can be significantly reduced, as eco-friendly products are recyclable.

* Adaptability – Green homes last for more number of years, in comparison to traditional homes. Many eco-friendly houses incorporate big open areas, which are easy and simple to rearrange and remodel.

* Preserve the surroundings – Green homes have the least footprint on the surroundings and thus, work towards safeguarding the nature.

* Conserve the natural resources – The green building practices focus on conserving the natural resources by supporting the use of recycled materials, rather than new trees.

* Affordability – Majority of the green building materials and products available in the market are available at more affordable rates, than the traditional materials. Moreover, the green alterations that you make in your life also help you save a great deal of money.

To summarize, going green offers a lot of benefits and thus, it is important for each one of us to support the “green movement” and lead an environment friendly life. By going green, you would not only be able to have a better health and improved lifestyle, but also save a great deal of money. Above all, you would be able to play a significant role in protecting Mother Nature.