The Green Economy Begins With Sustainable Design

Green initiatives are a driving force in the Obama Administration’s economic plans. The $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is expected to create 3.5 million green economy jobs over the next two years. While federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the General Services Administration (GSA) have increased budgets and revitalized green mandates to power the Administration’s sustainable agenda, there are signs that the private side is getting on board.

With increased public and private commitments to green initiatives, awareness of sustainable design polices and practices have become paramount to the success of the green movement. Since the emergence of the green movement, sustainable design has remained a random compilation of national policy interspersed with local applications.

The Obama Administration is applying standardized third-party sustainable fundamentals to federal projects and carrying those fundamentals to state and local levels. Effective sustainable design addresses three basic concepts:

·         The reduction of negative factors on the environment

·         The reduction of negative health and comfort factors upon building occupants

·         The increase of building efficiency and performance

Like all federal agencies, the GSA is determined to minimize the bottom-line impact during the implementation of sustainable design for all the agency’s projects. In the past, the private sector has been wary of the cost of green design and construction. GSA maintains that increased construction costs related to effective sustainable design are more than offset by the reduction in operating costs and specifically in reduced energy and waste costs.

To achieve cost-effective sustainable design, the federal government has set forth a six-step process that the Obama Administration hopes the private sector will utilize.

·         Site selection and preparation

·         Utilization of building operating systems that minimize the use of non-renewable products

·         Insistence on the use of sustainable building products

·         Address the preservation and conservation of water

·         Improve the building interior environment to the benefit of the occupants

·         Implement environmentally responsible operational and maintenance practices

Accordingly, the GSA has received a $5.5 billion budget allocation for green projects. The EPA has finally received supplements to its dwindling budget. The Agency’s budget was trimmed each of the past 8 years, resulting in a 27% cumulative decrease. 

The new $10.5 billion budget includes a $3.9 billion allocation for improvements to the country’s water infrastructure. Specifically, the agency will address 1000 clean water projects and 700 drinking water initiatives ranging from, San Francisco to Chesapeake Bay and including major projects in The Great Lakes and Lake Champlain.

The acknowledged universal and primary consideration in sustainable design has become the carbon footprint. The recognition of the carbon impact offers sustainable designers tangible criteria upon which every product, every building and every green initiative can be evaluated and promoted. In fact, the future of sustainable design and the development of carbon regulation will not only drive sustainable design but will unify the private and public sector’s sustainable focus.   

Green Home Designs – What Not to Do

Green home designs are actually what you would refer to as environmentally friendly homes because it makes use of eco-friendly and reusable materials. These homes lean towards renewable and longer lasting materials.

Green materials include those that are saved or restored in an existing structure. There are many available options today. Using materials that contain volatile organic compounds or VOC’s when painting, refinishing, or stenciling is avoided.

Green homes of today incorporate the use of bamboo, eucalyptus and cork because these are sustainable and renewable, with special mention to cork because the extraction of cork causes no damage to trees whatsoever when properly done. It is best to choose wood that have the authentication or certification of environmental groups.

When installing the home flooring, the use of non-toxic and low to no VOC sealants is recommended. Also consider non-toxic finishes, polishes, cleaners, refinishing and adhesive products. Keeping with the green home design allows for better indoor quality because the new home emits less toxins and becomes a more conducive and healthier place to live in. Although even after opting for non-toxic materials, there is still no guarantee for 100% good health and safety because other toxic chemicals are encountered on a daily basis. But the whole concept of building a green home is to ensure that no contribution is made to the further degradation of the planet and to provide a safer abode for the family at the end of the day.

Creating a green home keeps this in mind. It is also recommended that many glass windows and doors are included in the designs as well as to the roofs and walls to allow natural light enter the home. Skylights, aside from conserving energy consumption in the home is a good way to ensure that moisture does not accumulate in a room.

When designing the kitchen, try to incorporate the use of concrete counter tops. It will add a modern look to the area. Vetrrazzo is a type of recycled glass and is also a common green counter top choice. Recycled glass comes in various colors and gives a very attractive touch to the kitchen. Aside from counter tops, it can also be used as a backsplash. Another exquisite alternative would be recycled glass tiles.

When choosing appliances on the other hand, a few considerations to be made are the energy efficiency, functionality, style and of course, the budget. Go for the most energy efficient appliances when buying new ones. Recycling old appliances may also be done. Local recycling departments are sure to give sound advice on what can be done to recycle them.

Consumers should be wary about merely sending their old appliances to a landfill. A refrigerator for example has about 95% of its parts that are recyclable. Old kitchen appliances are not as energy efficient and will in effect cost a considerable amount of money over time. As much as possible, it is recommended that all old kitchen appliances be recycled.

In line with the green design is also to design green insulation or to use eco-friendly insulation materials. Green home designs make use of a lot of ceiling and wall insulation in the entire home. It is best to choose recycled denim or cotton insulation that is made from recycled blue jeans. Wool is also a good type to use and so is Icynene, a water blown spray in foam. New materials such as the aerogel, is made from silica to form frozen silica smoke or an ultra porous silica form that is about 99% air which makes it unbelievably light but incredibly strong and an effective insulator.

Aside from helping the environment, opting for a green home design can prove to be very economical in the long run. Because beyond the initial investment, it is the savings over time due to more energy efficient appliances and the reduction to the exposure to harmful chemicals that make it worthwhile.

Bellevue Builds it Green

Resting in the shadow of Seattle, Bellevue redefines what it means to be environmentally friendly. From establishing green policies and regulations surpassing that of most American cities to adopting a green approach toward community expansion, Bellevue is an ideal location for environmentally-sound development projects.

Bellevue is home to more than 145 Fortune 500 companies, with Microsoft and Expedia headquartered in the city. Many of the region’s high powered executives live in the community and have invested in the civic, cultural, and political infrastructure to enhance Bellevue’s quality of life.

Recently named by Fortune Small Business magazine as the “best place in the nation to live and launch a business”, there is a passion for the growth and a deep community dedication to environmental action and upkeep.

There are a number of both infill and brownfield development opportunities in Bellevue, many of which are in the downtown area. These parcels are generally comprised of former gas stations and retail space that has reached the end of its economic life. In addition, their location along and near Main Street, make them prime candidates for mixed-use retail-residential developments, in which the ground floor would consist of a commercial retailer and the top floors are occupied by residential housing.

While these are not high-end development plays that would likely attract retailers such as drug stores and grocers, they are ideal for the growing population of young professionals looking for just the right location in the center of Bellevue.

The City of Bellevue is also committed to “green” construction as evidenced by its outreach programs to local builders. The uniqueness of Bellevue is its ability to cater to smaller builders, working with the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and its LEED designation to design programs to encourage brownfield development. As a result, establishing green building standards is often looked upon as a prerequisite to breaking ground in Bellevue and the State and City have placed a high priority on empowering smaller, environmentally aware builders, to take on green projects in Bellevue.

While higher development costs and premiums to meet Bellevue’s stringent environmental standards have created a barrier to entry for some developers, the advantages to building in the city are vast. The financial stability, community commitment and long-term viability of the city make the delivery of green sound projects in Bellevue an ideal opportunity in any market climate.

Green Building – The Challenges Towards Widespread Acceptance By Home Builders

Energy savings, higher productivity and less waste. These are but a few of the many attributes towards implementing green building concepts and practices. These days, because of programs like the U.S. Green Building Council’s landmark LEED rating system for buildings, the ideas and concepts of green building have now entered the mainstream.

Currently, sustainable development analysts have noted that there are around 500 million square feet of green buildings under design, development, and implementation, and there has been a lot of success in LEED applications in different industries and sectors.

The Challenges Toward Widespread Acceptance of Green Building Ideas

Despite the rising acceptance in the concepts of sustainable building, there still remains a large challenge toward widespread acceptance and long-term practice, and despite the growing awareness in sustainable practices, green products, and high-performance technologies in building design and construction, many worry that there continues to be a lack of accurate, thorough, and quantifiable information regarding the financial and economic impacts of high-performance buildings within the construction and home building industry. In addition, there are also hurdles when it comes to the perception of cost, which has become a stumbling block in the quicker acceptance of green building concepts.

According to some sustainable development purveyors, there’s a consistent disconnect between capital costs and operating costs, as for instance, a building owner knows there is a return on investment of 40 percent going into a green building, as the investments are taken from capital; however, the year-to-year, the operating budget isn’t linked, and that poses a real stumbling block. For the past years, many entities have discussed and analyzed what it actually costs to build green and the ultimate value that results from constructing an environmentally responsible, high-performing facility in hopes of convincing the facilities industry to rethink construction budgeting and financing.

The Attributes Of Green Building Designs

Home builders and developers who have embraced the concepts of eco-friendly building, say that the four attributes of green building design, which are increased ventilation control, enhanced temperature control, enhanced lighting control, and increased daylighting, have been clearly and significantly correlated with increased levels in productivity.

Many note that indoor air quality also has been linked to potential productivity and health gains in workplaces and educational facilities, which helps to explain that the greatest advantages of green building come in the form of benefits to the occupants. The other financial benefits of green buildings are more than 10 times the average initial investment required to design and construct a green building. Construction industry insiders say that for energy savings alone, these exceed the average increased cost associated with going green, and the benefits and savings mark the true value of sustainable construction.

In these times where cost-efficiency, productivity and concern for the environment need to go hand in hand, home builders and property developers have a choice between a building designed to be healthy and efficient or one that is not. According to experts, with a 50-year life-cycle investment, green buildings are increasing at a rate of around 40 to 50 percent each year, and as global energy costs also soar up, the risks of simply doing conventional design are increasing, as well as the risk of going obsolete has fast become a large phenomenon too.

http://realestatepress.org – Real Estate Press

4 Easy Tips To Go Green And Thus Attract More Tenants

Going green is the trend these days, and it’s because more and more people are becoming environmentally conscious. As a landlord, you should be able to identify this trend and use it to your advantage to make your house look more attractive to the tenants. There are several ways in which you can make your house green. Here are 4 easy environment-friendly tips on attracting more tenants:

1. Introduce Green Replacements

If you are about to renovate your house before putting it back on the rental market, or even before doing something as small as fixing a broken bulb, consider getting green replacements. This is generally better if your tenants are already living in the house, as it reduces the downtime.

Check if the dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer have Energy Star ratings. Replace older shower heads with low-flow models. Other small things that you can pay attention to include light bulbs, carpets, window coverings, and paints.

2. Use Solar Energy

It has been found that heating water using electricity is a major contributor to power consumption and electricity bills. While solar panels have been making a leeway into apartment complexes, you should make it a priority even if it’s an individual house. Solar heat pumps are available on the market, and the government has been supporting the idea with subsidies. The future will see better storage technologies for solar power, and your house will appear smart to the tenants with this choice. And hey, it would reduce the bills too!

3. Insulate Your House

Insulating your home is a direct step towards encouraging sustainability. You can trap cold air in the summers and warm air in the winters. This reduces the annual costs involved in using air conditioners and heat radiators. There are ample cheap, recycled insulators in the market that are made of wool and polyester. You should definitely consider getting them.

4. Get Compost And Recycle Bins

You can get your tenants some inexpensive recycle bins. It would be great if you can get compost bins too, as these will promote waste reduction and proper recycling of food waste. You can even buy some fruit gardens to use the compost. Tenants will really appreciate this.

These days, more and more house hunters are looking to live in environmentally friendly areas. Follow these simple steps to not only ensure that you attract green-savvy tenants, but also help the house live long.