guest post by Jonah Trenton – refinancemortgagerates.com
Energy-efficient homes increase in value and provide homeowners lower utility bills in the future. At present, people involved in home building and renovation are finding new ways of reducing the use of natural resources. Green design alone is not enough to build or renovate a home. However, financing a greener home requires spending money. This is why there are programs designed for homeowners to incorporate technology to save on energy and bills. Homeowners can also consider refinancing to save the monthly funds needed for green upgrades.
Southern California is one place where the weather can be hot during summer months. Homeowners will need to use air-conditioner to experience comfortable cooling. However, some cooling equipment can take their toll on the homeowner’s utility bills. This is why part of remodeling homes should include choosing cooling equipment that allows big savings. With energy-efficient air conditioners, people can save up to 10 percent of total energy costs.
Southern California also has high water pressure that can result in large water bills. When low flow fixtures are installed, water consumption can be reduced between 50 and 70 percent. The device for low flow fixtures cost around $8.
Programs That Can Finance a Greener Home
• Federal Housing Authority Loans
Federal Housing Authority loans are intended for properties on the market that require repairs or renovation. Lenders see these properties as risky. When homeowners decide to convert properties into greener homes, the repair cost is financed into the loan. A down payment of 3.5 percent is required. This is based on the total purchase price and the cost of repairs. The amount of money that borrowers will receive is based on the property’s as-is value. This still does not include the costs of repairs. Lenders can finance up to $35,000 to cover the renovation costs when borrowers choose a streamlined mortgage. It is important that specific requirements such as energy efficiency standards are met.
Homeowners who want to consider greener homes may also seek financial assistance from the Energy Star program. They evaluate energy usage in electronics, heating and cooling products and building materials. They also offer lower cost loans for new homes. Homeowners who want energy efficient renovations can also rely on the program. It is important for borrowers to complete an energy audit to qualify for the program. A twenty percent reduction in energy usage is required for existing homes.
• Department of Housing and Urban Development Energy Efficient Mortgages
Homeowners can reduce the costs for energy efficiency upgrades when they choose to borrow from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
They provide refinanced and new mortgages, and the program is available in all 50 states.
Next Post, energy efficient home renovations
California is an example of green construction. In 2008, state energy regulators adopted a long-term plan that called for having all new residential buildings achieve zero net energy use by 2020 and having all commercial buildings achieve zero net energy use by 2030. The provisions also reduce water use by 20% and divert 50% of construction waste from landfills.
L.A. is on track to reduce the city’s carbon emissions 35% below 1990 levels by 2030. Our goal is the greatest reduction target of any large US city. It takes the state’s stringent CalGreen building codes a step further.
So going forward, we’re good, but we’re still dealing with an existing building stock, and some antiquated customs and equipment all the way around. Restructuring a structure’s infrastructure (say that 3x fast) is not an overnight process. We are sprinting toward net zero construction, yet large parts of the old-style building infrastructure will still dominate the landscape for the next century.
Any improvements and renovations made to your properties can impact the environment. Be conscious of your choices in paint and floor coverings. Anything you upgrade on your properties can be done with green in mind heating, plumbing, and electric all offer green fixes that can save the business money on the long term, and increase profitability on resale.
But some things are a slow fix…we may be building green buildings, but the machinery used to construct the property may not be. You’ve seen those backhoes and cranes bellowing black diesel carbon fumes. Around the shop, some old power tools use 3x the needed energy.
Construction equipment companies are catching on. JCB is aware of their duty to make their plant machinery more environmentally sound. For example, the Scot JCB Digger has numerous variations including the brand new 3CX-ECO with increased fuel efficiency in all aspects of its functionality.
Construction companies – particularly in Southern California – are up to speed on CalGreen construction, ICC codes, and other modern methods. Our fair county is an example of sound building, with cities like West Hollywood, Los Angeles, and Santa Monica offering some of the strictest green construction codes in the country, if not the world. And we’re setting an example for going forward. Today’s green apprentice may someday become the foremen of their own company, selling jobs and their bids.
Green building goes beyond the edifice, it includes the source of the raw materials, and the distance they travelled, the equipment that goes into the building and that goes into building the building. Society is progressing forward at warp speed, and we’re along for the ride. Let’s do our best to contribute to the greater good for now and for generations to come.
To LEED or not to LEED, that is the question. The government wants your green opinion > through April 6th. The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is seeking public comments on a long-awaited recommendation regarding green building rating systems. Go to www.gsa.gov/gbcertificationreview and share your opinion.
In 2006, GSA first evaluated certification systems focusing on new construction and major renovation. Based on this 2006 review, GSA identified the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification system for use in the Federal sector.
Now the GSA is considering polytheistic practices encouraging each federal agency to make its own decisions about whether to use LEED, Green Globes, or the Living Building Challenge.
They are also looking for input into which optional credits or points must be achieved in a rating system, and whether one rating system should be used across their entire building portfolio, and should work with rating system developers to improve alignment between certifications and federal green building needs.
The comment period will be open through April 8, 2013. For more information, visit www.gsa.gov/gbcertificationreview.
by Jodi Summers
Environmentalists began pushing for our Golden State to mandate that new homes come with renewable energy systems in the early part of this millennium.
The effort to get builders to build green grew into state law SB-1. SB-1 created the Million Solar Roofs Initiative, calling for the creation of 3,000 megawatts of new, solar-generated electricity by 2016. Always one for a good challenge, Gov. Jerry Brown upped the ante, and quadrupled the solar energy goal to 12,000 megawatts, or roughly the equivalent of 12 nuclear power plants. As an FYI, A thousand megawatts of solar energy could power about 250,000 homes. 12,000 megawatts = 3,000,000 homes.
All that power gets rolled into the California Solar Initiative, which uses rebates to promote renewable energy use in previously owned homes, as well as commercial, agricultural, government and nonprofit buildings. You can read all 193 pages here:
Okay, now that you’re up to speed, are you able to power your property at a profit?
by Jodi Summers
The Smart City Wheel is not a unicycle to efficiently get you from place to place. It is a customizable plan for a broad, integrated approach to improving the efficiency of city operations, the quality of life for its citizens, and growing the local economy.
The key is to focus on having smart key elements > economy, environmental practices, governance, living, mobility, and people. The elements bond together in a molecular variety of combinations to suit their specific greening needs.
May we present the Smart Cities Wheel…
The Smart Cities Wheel, designed by Boyd Cohen, Ph.D., LEED AP, is a climate strategist helping to lead communities, cities and companies on the journey towards the low carbon economy
by Jodi Summers
Smart cities are not one size fits all. Sure, the smart-cities movement could benefit from frameworks that allow a common language to develop amongst citizens, city staff, mayors, and the private sector, but at the moment, our CalGreen is as wide sweeping a municipal code.
But, we know what we’re doing. Here 3 examples of other world cities with smart plans.
Bravo to Copenhagen’s efforts to promote and prioritize bicycling. In 1981, the city developed its first cycling plan and it has been evolving its cycling and mixed-modal goals since 2002.
But the Danes were already ahead of the curve on transportation smart thought. Copenhagen has been measuring cycling and mixed modal use for decades. Now the city has a target indicator: to achieve 50% of all trips to work or school by bike by 2015. The city has been making significant progress towards this goal, having already achieved 37% in 2009. Copenhagen collaborated with MIT to create the Copenhagen Wheel. Though it looks like an ordinary bicycle wheel with an oversized center, the hybrid’s bright red hub is a veritable Swiss army knife’s worth of electronic gadgets and novel real-time functions. This revolutionary new bicycle wheel not only boosts power, but has sensors that can keep track of friends, fitness, smog and traffic in real time.
Vancouver Mayor Robertson and his Greenest City Action Team engaged 30,000+ citizens in a process designed to establish a 2020 goal for the city. The city used “social media and digital technologies to spark citizen-led public-engagement activities like kitchen table discussions at private homes, online discussion forums and workshops at community centers,” according to Straight.com. The result is the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan, which has set a clear goal for the city to become the greenest in the world by 2020. (Isn’t that Santa Monica’ goal too?)
Toronto recently announced a pilot charging station program at a cost of $65,000 to the city. Councilor Mike Layton recognizes the benefits of this small-scale action: “We all know that this is the direction that singular vehicle transport is going in,” said Layton in the National Post. “Why we wouldn’t at least try out something at very limited cost to the city, to get ready for the revolution that is going to happen, is beyond me.”
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