Monthly Archives: May 2012

What Does a Green Home Mean To You?

In today’s age, homeowners are turning to energy efficient and green building practices. With more and more companies offering green products and services, it is important for consumers to do their homework.

According to a nationwide Angie’s List poll, 72 percent of respondents consider green work practices important, and of those, only 15 percent have tried to hire green only service providers. However, 62 percent of respondents, in a separate poll, say they’re either somewhat skeptical or consider most green claims to be fake.

From insulation and flooring to lawn fertilizer and paint, there are number of energy efficient and green building practices to make your home more environmentally friendly. With so many green options, it is hard to weed out the real green products from the phonies.

Here is Angie’s List of tips to find out if a company is really green:

1. Scrutinize ads: Because advertising is often misleading, make sure you read the advertisements and call the company for more complete details.

2. Seek Certifications: Authentic green companies should earn their certification from a reputable third party, such as LEED, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) or the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

3. Research: Confirm green training, licensing (if applicable), credentials and work practices within the company.

4. Sustainable Products: Ask companies if they use sustainable products, such as the Forest Stewardship Council’s certified wood from sustainably harvested forests. Energy Star or WaterSense products ensure energy and water efficiency and the national fenestration rating Council certifies windows for energy performance.

5. Talk it Up: Make sure your potential employees know that green work practices are important to you. Set and discuss your priorities and share your passion with others.

Want more green innovation ideas? Visit Atlanta Real Estate Forum for the latest information on Atlanta green building.

New Survey Describes Best Green Features to Improve Your Resale Value

Solar PanelsWhat is the best way to reduce your home energy consumption and improve your resale value of your home simultaneously?
NewHomeSource.com, the leading resource for homebuyers, conducted an online national survey to measure which green energy features have the greatest impact on home resale values. According to the survey, 40 percent of respondents said that solar panels have the greatest impact, followed by tankless water heaters (23 percent) and energy efficient appliances (18 percent).

There are many benefits to using solar panels in the home. They reduce the reliance on outside power providers, and the energy generated can often be sold back to the power company. Not only do solar panels save energy, but they can leave quite an impression on home buyers. Although homeowners often do not see a return on investment upon purchasing the solar panels, many builders are factoring the cost of the solar panel construction into their home. For example, Lennar builders are developing new ‘solar communities,’ where solar power is the main feature of the homes.

Don’t stop there! You can also save a ton of energy by using tankless water heaters instead of large 50-60 gallon tanks. Plus, tankless heaters last twice as long as traditional tanks. These heaters are easy to incorporate in new construction, but may be difficult to install if your home is already built due to pre-existing gas lines.

According to the survey, Low-E windows and Icynene Insulation ranked as the least beneficial towards resale value. However, Low-E windows are gaining popularity. The glass in these windows reflects heat by utilizing a thin metallic coating in the glass. This coating helps reflect infrared light, which results in rising temperatures in the home.

Icynene Insulation allows homebuilders to construct more insulated and quieter homes. Icynene is a spray foam that expands as it dries. This allows small cracks, which would otherwise fill with moisture, air and heat, to be sealed. Although it was ranked last, according to Energy Star, a house that is properly insulated can save up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs.

Want more green home features that can lower costs? Visit Atlanta Real Estate Forum for the latest information on Atlanta green building.

VIP Access into Ashton Woods Homes’ New Community, Parkside Manor

Ashton Woods HomesWant to get the VIP access? Talk to a sales agent today to sign up for the VIP list to get the low-down of everything Parkside Manor, an established, 18-Atlanta new home community built by Ashton Woods Homes. The builder always keeps energy efficiency in mind with its Power House Green homes for sale.

Parkside Manor offers amenities for all, including a community pool, gazebo with fireplace and two pedestrian walkways to Webb Bridge Park. It is located in Alpharetta off of Webb Bridge Way and Kimball Bridge Road.

Webb Bridge Park, a family friendly commodity, provides two grass soccer fields, a multi-purpose synthetic turf field, four baseball fields, four tennis courts, walking trail, arboretum, concession stands, three picnic pavilions and an awesome Webb Zone Playground for all residents of Parkside Manor.

Children living at Parkside Manor attend Lake Windward Elementary, Webb Bridge Middle and Alpharetta High schools.

To visit, take GA 400 North to Exit #10 GA-120/Old Milton Pkwy. Turn right off the exit and go 2.5 miles. Turn left onto Kimball Bridge Rd. Go one-half mile and turn left on Webb Bridge Way. Go 0.3 miles and turn right on Webb Bridge Rd and Parkside Manor will be on the left.

To see all Ashton Woods’ communities visit www.ashtonwoodshomes.com/atlanta, or call 770-642-6123 x 133 to speak with a sales agent who can help you find the perfect new home community.

About Ashton Woods Homes:

Ashton Woods Homes is one of the nation’s largest private homebuilding companies, with operations in Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Houston, Killeen, Orlando, Phoenix, San Antonio, Raleigh and Tampa. For more information, visit www.ashtonwoodshomes.com.

Ten Steps For Being Green in the Home

Green is definitely one of the “buzz” words within the housing industry, but it isn’t always easy being green. However, with a few simple changes, you’ll no longer just be green with envy.istock photo

  1. Use plant-based cleaners. Green cleaners can make all of the difference by reducing air pollution and exposure to asthma and allergy triggers. Make sure you check the backs of your cleaners for a complete list of ingredients!
  2. Can’t afford a hybrid car? Eat less meat. By exchanging one meal a week for some yummy pasta and the much-needed veggies, you can reduce a large amount of greenhouse gases that are emitted when raising livestock.
  3. Free Range Beef. Look for labels like free-range, organic, no-hormone and no- antibiotic when buying beef.
  4. Shade your Home. By adding insulation to leaky walls, windows and doors, you can save your home’s energy seepage by 20 to 30 percent. Not in your budget? Try thermal shades to block the sun during the summ
    er and retain the heat during the winter.
  5. Go Cultural. Copy the Japanese and leave your shoes by the door. Not only does this prevent bacteria and outdoor smells in the house, but it also prevents chemicals and pesticides from entering the home.
  6. Go Back to Glass. Did you know that heating plastics in the microwave can leak compounds like bispherol-A or BPA? Don’t be fooled by “microwave-safe” plastics, which can only withstand a higher temperature before losing their shape. Try glass and ceramics instead.
  7. Be thrifty. For every item of clothing donated, approximately 27 pounds of carbon emissions are reduced. Be charitable. Be thrifty. Be green. Visit freecycle.org
  8. Safe Pots and Pans. Choose iron, enamel coated cast iron and st
    ainless steel pots and pans. Non-stick pans are convenient, but the coating can be scraped into food.
  9. What’s in your fragrance? Many fragrances have harmful chemicals that are believed to disrupt hormones and disrupt the ecosystem when washed down the drain. Read labels to find fragrances with essential oils.
  10. Bug Off Bug Spray! Prevention is the best method to get rid of pesky pests. Many pesticides and bug sprays have harmful chemicals that get emitted into the air. If you do need pest control, try your greener alternatives.

Already doing everything on this list and looking for an even bigger way to go green? Visit Atlanta Real Estate Forum for the latest information on Atlanta green building.

Green Roof Use Going Through The Roof

iStock imageAlthough only a small percentage of U.S. homes have a green roof, the green roof market grew 115 percent in 2011. For example, Washington D.C. announced that for the first time the city has more than 800,000 sq ft. of green roofs installed, making it the top ranked market for green roofs for 2011.

“This is evidence that the District is moving toward my vision for a sustainable D.C. and will lead the nation in implementing green practices and growing a green economy,” said Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray. “We are fully committed to being number one again next year.”

However, for the past decade, Chicago, still remains the top green roof leader among metropolitan areas, with over five million square feet of installed green roofs.

Components of a green roof include layers of protected membranes and soil medium, and planted with any type of vegetation such as grasses. Advocates say the benefits of added insulation for buildings, increased energy efficiency and better stormwater management outweigh the costs.

In addition, green roofs contribute to cleaner air, reduce stress off sewer systems through stormwater retention and help reduce the heat island effect that urban areas experience.

Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC) is an association that promotes the development of green roofs and walls. “We are definitely beginning to see results from policy support that has increased over the past few years,” says Jeffrey L. Bruce, chair of GRHC. “The industry is also benefiting from the more than 500 accredited green roof professionals (GRPs) in the market, who are committed to driving future industry growth.”

“As awareness grows on the multiple benefits of green roofs and the success of the industry, more homeowners will recognize green roofs as investments that will pay financial and environmental dividends,” said Paul Erlichman, membership coordinator for the association. “At a larger scale, an increasing amount of policies such as Toronto’s Green Roof Bylaw will require that developers use green infrastructure principles in their projects. Certainly, the further development of these policies will make our cities greener and drive the residential green roof market.”

For more information on  Atlanta green building visit Atlanta Real Estate Forum.

Are Solar Panels Helping or Hurting?

Solar PanelIf you are considering a green remodel of your home, you might want to think twice about solar panels. Solar energy has been touted in recent years as the smartest form of renewable power, and it would be, if it weren’t for solar power’s predisposition for waste. Unfortunately, solar panels only have a life span of approximately twenty-five years, and now that our initial solar experiments are beginning to require replacements, electronic environmentalists are having a hard time figuring out how to recycle these old panels.

Electronic Waste

Electronic waste is beginning to gain widespread attention as our society continues to mass produce and mass dispose of electronics. As of late, electronic waste, also known as electronic scrap, has been discarded to third world countries, where impoverished scavengers cut and burn old electronics to profit from the valuable materials within. In addition to putting their own health at risk by taking apart electronics without proper safety gear, these electronics hounds are endangering the health of their homes by releasing contaminants into the surrounding air and water.

Solar panels have obvious benefits for the environment, and environmental scientists are currently experimenting with more and more uses for them, from heating conductors to cars. But on the downside, solar panels also contain the same harmful materials found in many electronics, including cadmium, silicon tetrachloride, selenium, and sulfur hexafluoride. Of course, green-conscious solar power producers are hoping to maintain the eco-credibility of their solar products.

Solar Panel Recycling

Fortunately, there is some motion towards solar panel recycling, but it is still very limited.  Arizone-based First Solar, the world’s number one PV-cell manufacturer, has initiated an end-of-life solar module collection and recycling program. It currently recycles 95% percent of metal-rich semiconductor materials and 90% of module glass. But while the recycling program is free-of-charge, it is only applicable to First Solar products. This seems to be a common drawback with electronic waste recyclers. If they were truly concerned with the current state of electronic waste, wouldn’t they accept any form or brand of e-scrap? Yes, I’m more likely to buy new First Solar products, knowing they offer free recycling, but where does that leave me with my old, unusable solar panels?

Unfortunately, First Solar does not expect much solar recycling business any time soon. Though the company believes the service should pick up within the next ten to fifteen years, they might also want to consider producing solar products with waste-conscious updates in the meantime. As one of the premier solar recyclers, First Solar needs to set an example for other solar manufacturers. The addition of solar recycling plants around the country will not only benefit our earth, but create countless jobs in a struggling economy. Solar panels also are embedded with numerous precious materials, including pure silver. An effective recycling system could assist in the protection of our Earth’s valuable natural resources. Creating a solar panel from recycled materials costs nearly the same amount as creating a solar panel from new materials and requires only one-third of the energy. With these statistics, it’s obviously time to start recycling solar panels. Let’s not hurt our earth with the very products we use to protect it.

Written by Lynn Jackson

National Green Building Award Winners Announced

iStockThe National Association of Home Builders recently announced the National Green Building Award winners. The awards, which were presented on April 30 during the 14th annual National Green Building Conference in Nashville, were given to eleven industry professionals and companies.

The three-day conference include educational programs, green product exhibits, local green home tours and the Muddy Boots Mixer, which is a networking and awards event.

“These awards recognize the best and most innovative builders and remodelers in green building”, said NAHB Chairman Barry Rutenberg, a home builder from Gainesville, Fla. “The demand for green building is growing in leaps and bounds, and these winners set a great example of what can be accomplished in terms of sustainable and energy efficient building practices.”

Five single-family home projects were honored:

  • Purdue University of West Lafayette, Ind., for Project of the Year, Single-Family Concept and Research- Academic
  • Meritage Homes of Goodyear, Ariz., for Project of the Year, Single-Family Production Builder
  • TC Legend Homes/Zero-Energy Plans LLC of Coupeville, Wash., for Project of the Year, Single-Family Concept and Research- Enterprise
  • Chandler Design-Build Inc. of Mebane, N.C., for Project of the Year, Single-Family Small Volume Builder
  • MGM Construction of San Francisco, for Project of the Year, Single-Family Custom Builder

Two remodeling projects and one multifamily project were also honored:

  • Trifecta Construction Solutions of Fort Meyers, Fla., for Multifamily Project of the Year
  • G HOME of Rocking Horse Redevelopment of Phoenix, Ariz., for Remodeling Project of the Year Under $100,000
  • G HOME by Rocking Horse Redevelopment of Phoenix, Ariz., for Remodeling Project of the Year Over $100,000

Two awards were given to individuals or organizations for their efforts in green building advocacy:

  • G STREET of Scottsdale, Ariz., as Remodeler Advocate of the Year
  • The Mungo Companies of Irmo, S.C. for Builder Advocate of the Year

A new award, NAHB Green Outstanding Contribution Award, was also presented to T.W. Bailey, of WaterMark Custom Builders in Frisco, Texas.

For more information on this year’s awards, visit the National Green Building Awards website.