Archive for the ‘Green real estate’ Category
August 9th, 2009
The partnership between a home improvement company and a shelter provider might seem simple, but the plans that two established organizations have now are far from cut and dry. A $30 million green building program is going national, funded by the Home Depot Foundation, and plans to build 5,000 efficient homes over the next five years.
Habitat for Humanity and the Home Depot Foundation started a pilot last year through 30 affiliates that resulted in 260 sustainable homes. The Partners in Sustainable Building program began there, and is now poised to break into the national sphere.
Some of the homes were even certified to LEED Platinum, which resulted in nearly 50 percent energy savings in some cases. During the pilot, which according to Habitat for Humanity CEO Jonathan Reckford was “extremely successful,” early results yielded 15 to 30 percent energy savings.
At the end of August, over 120 Habitat for Humanity affiliates will participate in the national rollout across 45 states. Affiliates will receive grants depending on certifications that structures attain– $3,000 for Energy Star guidelines and up to $5,000 for other nationally recognized standards.
Habitat expects nearly 1,500 homes to be built between the August start and the end of 2010. Some of the certifications mentioned by Reckford were the National Association of Home Builders standard, LEED, EarthCraft and Enterprise Green Communities.
Retrofitting has been an emphasis by administration recently, citing green jobs and efficiency, though Habitat is meeting an ever-expanding need for new and innovative construction. These new buildings will be supported by Habitat’s network through eight Habitat State Support Organizations (which service 4,400 affiliates) and will be growing in size and host new training sessions to teach green standards.
Out of the 263 homes built in the pilot program, most buildings leaned towards a higher green building level (135) and 128 were certified to the Energy Star guidelines.
Popularity: 11% [?]
July 10th, 2009
Not a fan of those isolated eco-mansions that require driving to get anywhere? Sure, a LEED-certified building’s nice — but not if that means you’ll be cut off from the community around you by your car-dependency, relegating you to a daily driving habit that’s hardly eco-friendly.
That isolation and carbon-intensive lifestyle’s exactly what a new website — Estately — aspires to help you avoid. Estately’s a website that mashes up real estate listings with eco-lifestyle aspirations for the walking, cycling, public transit-taking environmentalist.
Click on a listing and a Walkscore automatically pops up, showing you how amenable that neighborhood is to a pedestrian-friendly lifestyle. In fact, if only a pedestrian paradise of a neighborhood will do, you can even refine your search to only give you listings with a certain walkscore.
Public transit fans get their own dues too. Know a rail or bus line that’ll drop you off right in front of your office? You can plug in that line number into the search to find all the listings within a quarter mile to 2 miles from the route! This application isn’t yet perfect — a quick search for properties near my neighborhood Big Blue Bus line turned up no results, despite the fact that some nearby houses are definitely on the market — but works for most bus lines. Above are just some of the listings that are near Los Angeles’ Metro #33 bus line!
Of course, Estately has all the other info any home hunter would want, like listing details and histories for each property, an easy-to-use mortgage calculator, and an online showing scheduler. The website also makes great use of Google Maps mashups, showing you at a glance what schools, parks, places of interest, and transportation options are near the property.
Last but not least, LEED-certification enthusiasts can still search for “Leed” or “energy efficient” in the search boxes to seek out properties that come with must-have eco-properties. So head over to Estately to start your eco house hunt — in your new walkable neighborhood-to-be!
Screenshots via Estately
Popularity: 5% [?]
July 5th, 2009
Written by Susan Kraemer, courtesy of GreenBuildingElements.com
If every building had a white roof, we would be able to cool the surrounding areas. That is the reasoning behind a California law about to go into effect next month requiring light reflective roofs on all new buildings. It is already the law for new flat roofs here.
Here, architect Richard Meier and his partner Michael Palladino have apparently created a design to go one further. It’s entirely white; roofs, walls, and interiors.
So this luxury design of a cool and airy Southern California beach house is glamorous and climate friendly.
Well, no. The McMansion-sized size of the thing at 4,280-sq.-ft is not so planet friendly; because it takes more energy to heat and cool a larger space. But this house would be well suited for a ground heat exchange to passively heat and cool itself with 55 degree air cooled from 10 feet under the ground.
As architects in California get closer to 2020, they will need to think more about passive cooling and heating and zero energy houses, as that will be the law by 2020. All new building must be zero energy by then.
Incorporate solar roofing on the white roof, and this could be a zero energy house.
The blue of a solar roof would visually extend right out to the ocean. (And conceal that horrible mess of mechanical contraptions on that roof.) White elastomeric cool roof paint under the solar panels would help cool the modules making them more efficient on hot days.
But are architects thinking about these things?
With 2020 almost upon us: “The beams at the roof, located above the horizontal framing, express the structural rhythm and layering of components,” explains the architect. “This cadence is repeated with the joinery of the painted aluminum exterior wall panels and modular windows. The mass of the exterior plaster walls are juxtaposed to the transparent glazed facades, creating a mosaic of layered materials.”
Blah, blah, blah.
Popularity: 22% [?]
June 25th, 2009
The tallest building in the Western Hemisphere will undergo a $350 million “green” retrofit that its owners said on Wednesday will make the 110-story office tower a beacon for environmentally sound space.
Plans call for the 1,450-foot Sears Tower to reduce its electricity consumption by 80 percent and water usage by 40 percent. It will be renamed the Willis tower later this summer in a deal with new tenant global insurance broker Willis Group Holdings.
To achieve the savings, owner American Landmark Properties and its partners plan to:
- Replace the 1973 tower’s 16,000 tinted single-pane windows and create a “thermal break” between Chicago’s frigid winters and hot summers and the interior.
- Install gas boilers equipped with fuel cells, which generate electricity, heat and cooling.
- Revamp the tower’s 104 elevators and 15 escalators to cut their electricity usage by 40 percent.
- Conserve 24 million gallons of water with new restroom fixtures and “condensation capture.”
- “Harvest daylight” by installing systems that automatically dim lighting based on available natural light.
- Install solar panels to heat water.
- Erect wind turbines on building setbacks, if possible.
Popularity: 13% [?]
March 6th, 2009
The rewards of building green are many, but they often come with some frustrations on the side. One of the greatest challenges can be sourcing building materials - that great green design or green building certification might rely on materials that are very tough to find in your market.
Wood products are a case in point. If you insist on using only the best green wood in your project (wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, or FSC), then be prepared to run around a bit. You might be able to find FSC-certified core building materials such as framing lumber, flooring or decking at your local home improvement store, but you’ll likely be more challenged finding local sources of doors, windows, cabinets and finish materials.
With some hard work and a great contractor, though, it’s possible to use nothing but green wood, as shown by the 2008 winner of FSC’s “Designing and Building With FSC” award. Portland, Oregon builder Green Hammer, Inc. won the award after using nearly 100% FSC-certified wood in their LeapFrog project (the only exceptions were some limited materials salvaged from local buildings or milled from on-site trees). Among the wood products used were FSC-certified Douglas fir, hemlock and spruce from local forests for framing lumber, floor, trim and cabinets and FSC formaldehyde-free plywood. Best of all, Stephen Aiguier, president of Green Hammer, estimated that the use of FSC wood only added 1-2% to the cost of the project (via GreenSource Magazine).
- Geothermal heat pump for radiant floors and panels, and domestic hot water;
- Advanced framing techniques (staggered studs) that minimize thermal bridging in the walls and allow for an uninterrupted layer of insulation;
- Rainwater catchment system with purification that provides 100% of the home’s water needs (wow!);
- “Cool” metal roof without any plumbing or ventilation penetrations - energy efficient, offers the possibility of lasting for 100 years, and assists in funneling clean water to the catchment system.
Oh, and if your interest has been piqued AND you happen to live in the Portland area, there’s one for sale! The $690K pricetag is a bit steep, but I’m sure the huge energy and water bill savings with this home will take a big chunk out of that through time.
Visit Low Impact Living’s directory of green builders to find help with a similar project near you. Or, read more about selecting sustainable wood, using geothermal heat pumps, and selecting eco-friendly roofing materials.
Popularity: 6% [?]