Catch the Green Wave
Just outside of the tiny town of Saybrook, Illinois is some of the “greenest” farmland to be found anywhere in the Midwest. This pic was snapped traveling down a lovely country blacktop last October.These graceful towers are absolutely silent, but are generating power for thousands of residents in Illinois. That’s a good thing, because in the United States alone, buildings alone account for:
• 70% of electricity
• 39% of all energy use
• 39% of all (CO2) emissions
• 40% of raw materials use
• 30% of waste output
(136 million tons annually)
• 12% of potable water
Sustainable residences, commercial properties, developments, and communities are so important to all of us. If you are seeking a green home or building, there are real estate professionals who specialize in “green.”
The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Green Designation is the definition of green professionalism, excellence, and leadership for today’s real estate practitioners. This training program is specifically designed to address the educational needs of practitioners in residential, commercial, and property management markets. The program provides real estate professionals with the knowledge and awareness of green building principles applied in residences, commercial properties, developments, and communities so that they can list, market, and manage green properties as well as guide buyer-clients, in purchasing green homes and buildings.
The Green Designation enables real estate professionals to incorporate green principles into their practice and encourages the real estate professional to be an advocate in spreading the green philosophy and be a positive force for creating sustainable and energy efficient communities of homes and commercial buildings.
What does it really mean when it comes to being a homeowner or looking for that eco-friendly home?
A homeowner can do many things to go green in the home. For example, some tips regarding electricity according to Planet Green are:
· Audit yourself – determine how energy is used in your home, where it is lost, etc. Many utilities offer energy audits as a free service.
· Reduce your use – replace light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLS);turn off lights and devices when not in use; eliminate electronics that sleep on a standby setting as they continue to pull electric even when turned off; line dry (when possible)
· Put your house on a diet – Houses consume a large amount of energy when heating and cooling. To cut down on costs, utilize natural ventilation instead of air conditioning when possible such as ceiling and whole-house fans. Keep shades drawn during the hottest period of the day in the summer. If you use electric for your water heater, purchase an insulated blanket to wrap around the water heater.
· Buy wise – After heating and cooling, appliances are the next biggest electricity users. When purchasing new appliances, look for the EnergyGuide label which shows consumption in terms of kWh per year. Additionally, look for the Energy Star rating.
When purchasing a green home, not only are you helping the environment, but you have the ability to take advantage of energy-efficient mortgages.
1. Energy-efficient homes and energy efficient mortgages – Check out “Financing Energy Efficiency: An EEM Handbook” by Randy Martin. The book discusses what energy efficient mortgages are (loans with relaxed credit standards and favorable interest rates for houses meeting prescribed energy standards) and FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage requirements. http://www.resnet.us/ratings/overview/default.htm
2. Residential Energy Services Network RESNET is one of the principal groups of green housing-minded practitioners, lenders, builders, etc. The group is guided by a committee of mortgage lenders offering energy-efficient mortgages. http://www.resnet.us/about/resnet.htm
3. EPA Energy Star – Existing homes EPA’s Energy Star Program is used by lenders as the standard of determining energy efficiency. Borrowers whose houses meet the standard qualify for the favorable terms of energy-efficient mortgages. EPA’s existing-home site contains information on the top energy saving improvements and how to save money by using energy-efficient improvements as part of the remodeling process. http://www.energystar.gov/
4. EPA Energy Star – New Homes – EPA provides information on its Energy Star Program as it applies to the new-home market. Website features resources on finding a new-home builder, lender, energy-use rater, and utility programs that promote energy efficiency. http://www.energystar.gov/
5. National Energy Raters Association – NERA is an association of professionals who rate and verify home energy efficiency and consult with practitioners, lenders, buyers, sellers and others on improving home efficiency. http://www.energyraters.org/
Tips taken with permission from the National Association of REALTORS®