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: 6% [?]
July 1st, 2009
Dwell Magazine has partnered with some very well-known architects and builders to develop a signature line of prefab homes. The homes not only focus on sustainable design and building, but look amazing as well. Turkel Design in collaboration with Lindal Cedar Homes and then Marmol Radziner Prefab each designed three modern prefab homes to be featured as part of the Dwell Home Collection. Dwell’s recent selection of these particular prefab home designs indicates the quality of design, modern amenities and most importantly the integration of sustainable features to create a efficient and eco-friendly home. (more…)
Popularity: 35% [?]
April 2nd, 2009
For a few days last week, a rustic green cabin popped up in the middle of a metropolis. Behind the iconic Pacific Design Center and in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art in West Hollywood, designers and architects walked in and out of the HOM 1 manufactured home, taking a close look at the cork floors, FSC-certified walnut wood beds, and recycled glass-and-aluminum lamps.
HOM 1, the $235,000, 1000-square-foot, 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom modular home designed by KAA Design Group, was on display as part of WESTWEEK 2009: The Business of Design, a big annual symposium for the design world. Although the model drew a crowd in the city, the HOM 1’s intended as an escape home: “HOM is about living outdoors and in, with a close connection to nature,” declares the HOM website.
The modular home combines modern design with a rustic outdoorsy feel. Buy a HOM 1, and it’ll arrive 90% assembled as a single unit, fully equipped with the latest kitchen appliances, plumbing fixtures, and energy-efficient washer and dryer. According to HOM, the streamlined process of making this modular home means less wasted energy, construction waste, and transportation emissions.
Since HOM also makes eco-friendly furniture and accessories — all of which are designed to last a long, long time — you could get your HOM 1 fully furnished too. Then you can relax on your Wima Ottoman — made of FSC-certified ipe wood, turn on your Akira pendant lamp — made with 100% organic linen, FSC-certified walnut and recycled aluminum, creating the perfect relaxing setting for reading Thoreau’s Walden.
To see many other fine examples of green prefab homes, click here.
Popularity: 15% [?]
February 18th, 2009
If you’ve long longed to green your home but never felt you had the money to do so, get ready to take action. Obama’s new stimulus plan, signed into law Tuesday, might give you just the extra financial nudge you need to undertake that eco-project you’ve had in mind.
First of all, the new stimulus plan will give you a tax credit for 30% of the costs, up to $1,500 total, for these eco-improvements on a property (via Associated Press):
>> Getting new energy-efficient furnaces, air conditioners, or windows
>> Replacing leaky windows
>> Putting more insulation into attics.
In addition to tax breaks, the stimulus plan lets you get government rebates for buying Energy Star rated appliances. About $300 million will be given out via these eco-rebates through state-run programs. Check with your state in the coming months to see how you can take advantage of these rebates.
Low-income households will also be able to get greenification help, thanks to the $5 billion going to the Weatherization Assistance Program (via LA Times). This existing but underfunded program’s aimed at helping low-income households make energy-efficiency improvements in their homes; more than 33.8 million households are eligible for weatherization services according to the Department of Energy stats. So — If your income’s less than 50% above the poverty level, make sure you’re signed up to get on the waiting list in your state for this eco program, which could reduce your annual gas heating bill by almost a third.
Wealthier people can also get some financial help — though the economic boost isn’t tied to enviro-leanings. According to the Associated Press, the biggest winners from this stimulus bill could be “Americans with more expensive homes who will be able to refinance their home loans at cheaper rates.”
Why? The stimulus bill “temporarily raises the maximum size of mortgages that government-sponsored mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can purchase and market as securities from $417,000 to as high as $729,750 in expensive parts of the country such as New York and California,” says the AP. The bill also “makes a similar change for loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration.”
What this basically means is that homeowners will be able mortgage or remortgage their houses at much more favorable interest rates. Plus, through a separate tax break in the stimulus plan, first-time homebuyers will get an $8,000 tax credit, so long as they buy their homes before Dec. 1.
All that’s to say that many homeowners will be able to save a lot of money — which can be put toward greening projects — which can also earn their own tax credits and rebates!
That’s already a lot of good green news, but homeowners could see additional eco and economical benefits from the stimulus bill. Since the bill’s aimed at creating a lot more green jobs, from training people to make wind turbines and solar panels to promoting energy efficiency in schools and government buildings, we’ll hopefully all see some savings result from the expanding market for energy-efficient products and services.
Popularity: 4% [?]
February 14th, 2009
If you are interested in green architecture then please spend a moment welcoming GreenPods on to the market. These are wonderful, small, highly eco-smart dwellings.
GreenPod Developmentis based in Washington and they seek to design and construct affordable, sustainable, modular homes. At right you see one of their “SoloPods”, but the also have other designs that are equally compelling. Below you see the model called the “Floating Pod.”
The Pod designs range from 300 to 800 square feet. But if you need additional square footage, the Pods can be joined or stacked. Pod designer Ann Raab uses movable walls, multi-use furnishings, lighting, and windows to visually enlarge the Pod’s living spaces.
The Pods boast many environmentally-savvy features. All Pods utilize passive-solar design principles to cut energy use. Every Pod features low air infiltration design,energy-efficient windows, energy saving appliances, low-flow plumbing and LED lighting. They also make extensive use of daylighting.
Currently GreenPods is working on projects in Washington and California, and they can also service Oregon. Founder Ann Raab told me that they hope to be able to serve more parts of the country next year. I also asked her about costs and she said that depending on the size and features one selects for the their Pod, the cost would range between $150-$250 per square foot.
In case you are in Washington, you can stop by the GreenPod showroom. It’s at Artisans on Taylor, which is located at 236 Taylor Street, Port Townsend, WA, 98368 (across from the Rose Theater).
Popularity: 15% [?]