Green Homes and Eco-Friendly Dwellings

Protecting the environment has become a lot more important as we are starting to see the damage that pollutants are doing to it. Green homes are a great way to not only save the planet but also save you money. There are many different adjustments that can be made to turn a home green and…

Protecting the environment has become a lot more important as we are starting to see the damage that pollutants are doing to it. Green homes are a great way to not only save the planet but also save you money. There are many different adjustments that can be made to turn a home green and many of them do not cost a lot of money. Those that do may qualify you as a buyer to get a tax credit for making your home more eco-friendly. So how what changes can you make to your home?

Windows can be a large source of pollution. When the windows in your home let air out through small cracks, your AC or heater will be working twice as hard to keep the inside of your house at the right temperature. If they're working twice as hard, they are using twice as much energy as normal. Insulated windows that have been given the Energy Star logo will keep that air from making its way out. These windows also help to keep the outdoor temperature from getting in which reduces your need for climate control even more. There are tax credits available if you install these windows in your home, and some companies will even match that credit when they do your installation.

Appliances are another place where energy could be wasted on a regular basis in your home. Refrigerants that are not energy efficient play a huge part in the electricity you use because they are always on. Appliances that are used often such as the stove or washer and dryer use a lot of energy for the time that they are on. All of these appliances have energy efficient versions and while these will be a high initial cost it will save money over time.

You can even change the flooring you have to help save the environment. If you have wanted to put in hardwood floors, consider using a bamboo material instead. They look like a light hardwood floor and they are eco-friendly because bamboo is an easily renewed source as opposed to trees which can take decades to grow back. They're also easier to maintain with simple soap and water, cutting back on the chemical products you'd need to use to clean.

Most people have heard of solar panels and thought it was a great idea but too expensive. The thing is, that's not true. Anyone can install solar panels themselves in their home and pay as little as $ 500 to do so. The solar panels will bring electricity right into your home, and if you get back more electricity than you use you can actually sell it back to the city's power company. Tax credits are available for this installation too, even if you do it yourself.

There are simple ways a person can make their home a green home without having to install anything. You can switch out all of the light bulbs in your home with energy efficient ones. Faucets and showerheads that have a softer stream will reduce the water you use. You can also start recycling your packaging materials to cut down on your garbage. With so many options on how to go green, it might be hard to pick just one.

Green Real Estate Doesn’t Mean Fake Palm Trees

It seems that green real estate is really in and now everyone is onboard. Not only the environmentalist, but also the unions, the builders, the government and even all the citizens are all for Green real estate. What is very interesting to note is the extreme lengths that commercial real estate developers will go to,…

It seems that green real estate is really in and now everyone is onboard. Not only the environmentalist, but also the unions, the builders, the government and even all the citizens are all for Green real estate. What is very interesting to note is the extreme lengths that commercial real estate developers will go to, in order to try to promote their projects is green.

Not long ago I was at a local city planning commission and a builder had a project, and he spent half of the presentation talking about how his project was environmentally friendly, took advantage of alternative energy, and was on the leading edge of green technologies. He even went so far as to note that the cell phone tower on the property looked just like a palm tree, and at first glance you could even tell it was a cell tower.

Still, what does Green real estate have to do with fake cell towers that look like palm trees? Nothing, absolutely nothing and this led me to wonder if we were taking this green movement a little too far, covering up the truth, hiding the facts, and pretending to be the “big greeny” that we really are not.

Although this particular real estate developers credit, he did have solar panels, special double-painted windows, floor heating, an architecture that promoted use of the sun to help control the climate inside, it's too bad we do not build all of our buildings this way, and it's too bad we are starting now. If all of our buildings were energy-efficient we'd save a whole lot of energy, and increase efficiency, we should have done this decades ago. Please consider all this.

Why Should You Reuse and Recycle Building Materials and Furnishings?

Why should you reuse and recycle building materials? Is not it exhausting doing this time-consuming and messy process of collecting, sorting and recycling waste, whereas you just deliver this waste to the landfill and simply purchase brand new products from stores? Why used recycled products? Well, that's very easy to say if you either care…

Why should you reuse and recycle building materials? Is not it exhausting doing this time-consuming and messy process of collecting, sorting and recycling waste, whereas you just deliver this waste to the landfill and simply purchase brand new products from stores? Why used recycled products? Well, that's very easy to say if you either care the environment nor believe on conservation of ecology and resources. The planet has now changed and the environment is not as healthy as it was centuries ago. The effect of climate change is getting worse as the green house gas emissions is continuing to take its toll, and all human being will be the first one to suffer on this if everyone are not taking these problems seriously. Construction industries had its share on the generation of huge volume of waste within the entire life cycle of the building including new construction as well as major renovations, operation, and demolition; that is why construction industry is expected to share the big part in addressing the problem. Project team pursuing green building certification is most likely motivated in implementing reuse and recycle of materials as majority of benchmark tools required projects to pursue this innovation.

Foremost reason why it is necessary to reuse and recycle building materials is to reduce the adverse effect of building construction to the environment. Older buildings that needs to be demolished in order to give way for new development present opportunity to salvage and recycle, before a particular buildings turned in to rubble the owner could sell all the functional materials or utilize that for new projects. A serviceable materials and furnishing from this buildings such as non-structural windows, trim, doors, timber, furniture, fixtures, flooring, cabinets, and etc. requires only a proper removal procedure and could be used again, utilizing as many recycled materials are helpful in reducing the demand of virgin resources for new buildings. In fact, production of new materials and products adds up vast emissions of greenhouse gas and consumptions of natural resources. Whereas, implementing this innovative approach during construction would consider cut the requirements of procuring new and expensive products. Along with this, it is recommended that project team plan this strategy at the earlier stage of project planning; as well as it is necessary to identify potential sources and consider materials that contained with higher percentage of recycled materials.

Maximizing the usage of salvaged and recycled materials in construction projects will reliably cut huge volume of waste that goes to landfill which certainly adds burdens and ultimately requires additional landfill areas. In addition, from the business point of view, several companies venturing in collecting and recycling waste are making significant profit from this since there is a sharp increase of demands from these services. The increasing awareness and implementation of reuse and recycling materials are not only beneficial to the environment but also support the recycling industry to generate revenue, and that this will help persuade and motivate small to medium companies to participate in this industry.

Reuse and recycling of materials are giving usable waste another life, some materials from an old or vacated buildings that are about to be destroyed or converted could be used for other construction projects, instead of disposing it to landfill which would be too costly for the environment , on one hand, these materials is practically useful for other purpose instead of purchasing equivalent brand new products. Project owner can significantly save money in reusing and recycling process, project team only needs to be resourceful in searching for quality source. During the planning stage the team can draw an outline and criteria which materials are possible to be replaced with salvaged materials.

Building project pursuing green building certification will benefit as well on reuse and recycling of materials since most of the green building rating system includes this criteria. Taking Leed as example, projects that are pursuing Leeds certification has several available options including material reuse, construction waste management, and recycled content. Obtaining a number of points in this category will help the project reach its certification goals.

Community and companies have been adapting reuse and recycling of waste, however, several are becoming complacent with the little achievement they had. Addressing this problem is a continuing process and it requires commitments and changes on attitudes and behavior, waste management should become part of our culture and not just regular task that could draw us lazy sometimes. Implementing reuse and recycling procedure in every construction projects will make a difference since construction industry is one of source of huge volume of waste, this industry should also be proactive in addressing the waste problems. Along with this, we only need to be consistent and set higher standards as a driver in addressing this issue.

Advantages of Green Building Innovations

First off, a major issue with standard building construction is its demand for mined material; 40% of raw stone, gravel and sand is contributed to buildings, in addition to a similar share of other processed materials such as steel. All of this mining contributions to the destruction of landscape, leading to erosion, toxic run-off and…

First off, a major issue with standard building construction is its demand for mined material; 40% of raw stone, gravel and sand is contributed to buildings, in addition to a similar share of other processed materials such as steel. All of this mining contributions to the destruction of landscape, leading to erosion, toxic run-off and water pollution.

Also, of of the world's virgin wood is used for construction. This, in addition to mining, contributes to deforestation and historically flooding and siltation. These processes destroy ecosystems that are home to many plants and animals.

Energy consumption of buildings accounts for 40% of total energy use! This contributes to acid rain, damming of rivers, nuclear waste, and the risk of global warming. The utilities of buildings also account for 16% of total water withdrawals. While the world's source of water is abundant, buildings consume as much water as agriculture and ecosystems. Inevitably, water pollution becomes a bi-product of standard building practices. In addition, the waste produced during the construction process causes not only water pollution, but other landfill issues such as leaching of heavy metals.

All in all, the world's standard building practices consume energy, and produce waste, while devastating the earth's natural ecosystems and resources.

While making minimal sacrifices, the earth can be saved by supporting the green building movement. The green building movement offers alternative sources of material, in addition to, building systems and products in order to lower these human consumption statistics!

Some solutions green building proposals alleviate the stress on the environment are buying lumber from plantation grown woods to minimize the effect on natural ecosystems. Also the use of green products such as green spray-foam insulation, LED lighting, and non VOC paints, among many other green products help to lower human consumption. The overall goal when developing a green product is to use natural material that is renewable and can be recycled, while sustainably providing a building with efficient energy consumption for many years.

Going Green – The Best Way to Ease the Housing Market Crisis

Energy Efficiency and Green Building Offer New Hope for Real Estate All of the changes that are still being proposed for more bailout money, these are still not addressing the real estate buyer's mindset. Have you asked why a buyer is not buying? Try asking your friends and family this question. The response will be:…

Energy Efficiency and Green Building Offer New Hope for Real Estate

All of the changes that are still being proposed for more bailout money, these are still not addressing the real estate buyer's mindset. Have you asked why a buyer is not buying? Try asking your friends and family this question. The response will be: too much for a home, taxes are too high and job security is an issue. Who wants an investment that is going south in value. Would you? The state of the real estate market is what is on the line. Ideas from real estate practitioners are what policy makers both Democrats and Republicans, need to be seeking. (And do not ask NAR, the National Association of Realtors – they are just more policy makers.)

Ask the people in the trenches. Having completed close to 400 real estate transactions, ask me. We need to give the buyer a reason to buy again. Create better local and federal tax incentives and make then visible for homeowners to renovate green. A healthier home that comes with lower utility bills and reasonable taxes is an overall better investment. Would you buy a home with a $ 600 utility bill and taxes at $ 3,000 – $ 8,000 a year if your job is at risk or you feel insecure?

Sellers, builders, and renovators need to renew and produce a product worth buying. THINK WHAT TAX INCENTIVES TO RENOVATE AND BUILD GREEN WOULD DO TO THE MARKET! Then the buyer will come. Then the value of that investment will increase again. Prices and taxes need to be adjusted, big time. Who wants a mortgage at $ 1100 and another $ 1100 in taxes and utilities? The upside is that these tactical movements by government will create a job base building a new energy sector. This will also increase small businesses aimed at these types of renovations, as well as jobs for administrative forces. My company Green Real Estate Education has established a “green leadership” certification program for under $ 100, offering the real estate agent a new reason to visit their clients, with good news.

This industry needs market transformation. We are educating on how a home can build real value. It is not and will never be business as usual again. We are doing this with education in the field of energy consumption. Realtors learn how they can guide clients to mortgage professionals which companies develop programs that can help fund a home to be energy efficient, using renewable energy. That creates better value. Through our educational programs, we push the mortgage industry to offer “green funding” programs for consumers to have upgraded systems installed in their homes to save on energy costs. The real estate industry needs to know how to save money and create valid reasons to want home ownership again.

I can tell you the real estate market will not recover with just lower interest rates, or with just a focus on another bailout. Buyers want green homes. If a consumer looks at a home today, not only can it not lose value, but it better be energy efficient. It better offer a healthy interior space.

North Georgia Winery Development Creates New Paradym For Green Development

Right up until the housing crash, developers were building golf courses one after the other. The amount of land, water and maintenance was unsustainable. The houses in these projects were intensive and expensive requiring even more resources. Thousands of homes and lots have been developed with a faulty model. Numerous developers and builders have gone…

Right up until the housing crash, developers were building golf courses one after the other. The amount of land, water and maintenance was unsustainable. The houses in these projects were intensive and expensive requiring even more resources. Thousands of homes and lots have been developed with a faulty model. Numerous developers and builders have gone out of business. The remaining developers have been seeking a new paradigm ever since.

During the industrial age Americans fled the farms for work in the cities. The post World War II, suburban movement led a mass exodus from the cities to the suburbs in search of space. Concerns for sustainability has led to two recent trends – urban redevelopment and New Urbanism. Urban redevelopment has attracted many young couples and empty nesters seeking the conveniences of city life. New Urbanism developers have tried to create with varying degrees of success the feel of a city in the suburbs.

A possible counter-trend to New Urbanism is New Ruralism. Americans have lost all touch with their food chain and with the land. Reconnecting with the land combined with sustainable development and green building has a real appeal to large segments of the US population. While these developments take large tracts of land, dedicating portions to agriculture, walking trails, parks and other outdoor activities has tremendous appeal.

Atlanta, Georgia has two good examples of New Ruralism. Serenbe, south of Atlanta, centers is development around a 25 acre working farm and an old farmhouse converted into a bed and breakfast. It's success has been limited by difficulty with its builder group in the middle of a housing recession. Whatever difficulties faced in the housing sector have been overshadowed by great success in food and culture.

The second example is a development a little more than an hour north of Atlanta in Georgia wine country. Being built by Beecham Builders, Montaluce is a community based around a winery, vineyards and lifestyle. Known for high quality construction, the Beechams, decided to expand their business. A visit to Georgia wine country inspired them to create a community centered on a winery.

The theme of Tuscan architects falls back on an old philosophy of ancestral homes but using green building practices. The most basic of principals used is size. American homes have become so large that energy bills can be one of the largest bills families have to pay. The Beechams envisioned smaller homes with larger entertainment areas and outdoor spaces. This translates into lower cost of construction and lower energy usage.

While downsizing plays a large role, homes at Montaluce are constructed with deep wall cavities filled with blown in fiberglass on the inside and concrete block with stucco on the outside. The energy efficiency attained greatly exceeded current standards. The roofs are made from fired clay from Italy. The tile has cavities that allow air to cool the roof and are renewable as the roof can be ground up and reused as can the concrete block. The use of Energy Star rated windows and doors completes an energy efficient, sustainable and renewable envelope. The latest homes are now incorporating an even more efficient and renewable technique – Insulated Concrete Forms (or ICF).

On the development side, more than 60% of the 400 acres were preserved for greenspace and vineyards. But that is not where it ended. Using unique design Montaluce was able to avoid all detention pools, curbs and gutters. Roads were also narrowed to add to the rural feel but also reduced the amount of petroleum based, asphalt.

The final piece of New Ruralism is a reconnection with the land. The winery produces all its wine from its own vineyards or from other local vineyards. The restaurant inside the winery building incorporates the same local theme along with seasonal and fresh. In the Fall the restaurant will incorporate vegetables from the one acre garden, as well as eggs and pork from Montaluce's farm.

New Ruralism is certainly not for everyone, but future developers can not ignore it. After the current recession abates, it is certain to change the behavior of most Americans. Each in his own way, Americans will look introspectively and make a decision to reduce our overall footprint on the planet. Some will do so because of environmental reasons. Others will do so because they seek to avoid future mistakes of overextending ourselves. Whatever the reason developers will have to adapt or go out of business.

Environmentally-Friendly Kit Homes

With the increasing environmental awareness of people all over the world, more and more households are opting to build environmentally-friendly homes, most commonly known as eco homes or green homes. Manufacturers, designers, and suppliers of kit homes in QLD are quick to recognize and answer this increasing demand for eco homes and have come to…

With the increasing environmental awareness of people all over the world, more and more households are opting to build environmentally-friendly homes, most commonly known as eco homes or green homes. Manufacturers, designers, and suppliers of kit homes in QLD are quick to recognize and answer this increasing demand for eco homes and have come to offer several products featuring unique features commonly associated with these homes.

One of the largest issues faced by the world today is global warming. A result of deforestation and increased concentration of greenhouse gases, global warming is expected to cause several environmental changes, most of which will be destructive to man. To show your concern and initiative against global warming, opt to purchase eco homes from one of several QLD kit homes suppliers. Being environmentally conscious and responsible does not only include your involvement in various environmental causes and organizations but also means living the kind of lifestyle that will give the least environmental impact as possible. Environmentally friendly homes are designed to harmonize well with the environment, reducing waste and harnessing the natural elements for household uses.

Queensland kit homes that are designed to be environmentally-friendly also incur lesser energy costs. Eco homes are well-ventilated and properly insulated so the household does not quite entirely on their heating and cooling systems during different times of the year. Examples of which would be the use of natural light in most parts of the house to reduce the use of electricity, orienting the house properly so heat is properly distributed, and having large windows to let the cooling air in. Living in eco homes also reduces your dependence on fossil fuels, another huge issue tackled by concerned organizations worldwide.

Eco home designs are quite flexible, capable to incorporate unique designs such as the addition of systems that provide alternative energy sources. New technologies are constantly being introduced to the market so households, including owner builders of kit homes in QLD can make use of wind power, solar heat, water sources, and biomass energy right in their very own homes. The Queensland government also supports the integration of these technologies into homes, providing rebates and other beneficial schemes to homeowners with environmentally-friendly kit homes. Some insurance companies even offer discounts and special rates for eco homes, something that every owner builder should look into in order to maximize the benefits that they can derive from environmentally-friendly kit homes.

With rising consumer awareness and demand for these types of homes, it is expected that these abodes will increase in value a few years from now. If you are a savvy investor, you will recognize the huge potential value of environmentally-friendly kit homes. Although the state has a specified period in which you can resell your home, you can expect to get a tidy profit when you put it back in the market later on. In fact, one of the most sort-after features of an ideal home would be its eco-friendliness. This is not surprising, with the potential savings owners can enjoy. Additionally, owning eco homes lends a certain prestige as well as demonstrates the social responsibility of the owner.

Designing Green Data Centers

Evaluate Current Infrastructure: This is the first step where analysis needs to be done on the energy bills, current requirements, and how much is being utilized by the servers, air conditioning systems, cooling fans and other devices like routers and switches in the data center . This helps in creating a baseline for calculating the…

Evaluate Current Infrastructure: This is the first step where analysis needs to be done on the energy bills, current requirements, and how much is being utilized by the servers, air conditioning systems, cooling fans and other devices like routers and switches in the data center . This helps in creating a baseline for calculating the Return-On-Investment after the changes are actually put in to implementation.

Rack Placements: This is an important aspect while designing the data center floor plan. Plan the layout of the equipments and structural components in a hot aisle and cold aisle rack layout method as recommended by Green Grid. The basic principle is to maximize the separation between the exhaust air flow and take air flow. The benefit of this arrangement is that it affects the required air delivery temperature that must be used to equalize the temperature throughout the room.

Need Analysis: Evaluate what is required out of the data center, not just what is needed now but maybe two or three years down the line. This helps in estimating the room for growth and helps avoid costly mistakes which fail to allow enough headroom for IT growth.

Eliminate: Look at every single area where you can eliminate, reduce or consolidate current hardware and equipments. For example, if you have two 24 port switches using only 18 connections consolidate them and shut down one of them. This does not have much impact in small organizations, but when we talk about companies which have lots of equipment in their data center, I'm sure figures would be impressive. Moreover, while calculating the ROI also consider the capital equipment and ongoing operational costs savings.

Consolidation of Servers: Identify areas where servers can be consolidated on to one single piece of hardware rather than running multiple physical boxes. By running multiple platforms and applications on a single server with many virtual servers can help reduce the amount of physical boxes. This in turn would help save the power consumption of not only the hardware box but also affect the cooling systems energy consumption.

Usage Patterns: There is a misconception that servers in a data center should be available and performing 24×7 regardless of the usage levels. In fact, identify and list out how all different parts of the network are being utilized and what are the peak hours for bandwidth, processing power and storage to handle peak network traffic. Set the power savings features on the hardware or OS level such that it helps in saving power. Allow the servers to sleep when they are not being utilized and explore the Wake-On-LAN technology.

Rated Appliances: Use Energy Star rated appliances, particularly the air-conditioning or cooling systems. Devices carrying the Energy Star logo tend to save about 20% to 30% of energy on an average and the specifications different with each item. Keep an eye on this point as it is estimated that EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) will announce and enforce the ratings for data center appliances and servers by 2010. At times, devices with Energy Star rating come but but it worth investing that marginal amount during the initial purchase. The overall running costs of power consumption would be much higher if the devices are not power efficient and you will run spending more on the energy costs in the long run.

Monitoring: It's important to keep a track on the uptime and usage patterns of the data center. It basically allows the IT managers to accurately measure the effectiveness of the changes. Moreover, it also assists the top level management to decide on green energy solutions to reduce or eliminate their carbon footprints.

Remember, Green is just not a color – it's more than that.

Green Home Checklist

If you happen to be looking for a green home or eco-friendly dwellings, you might be confused on how to determine if it is truly green. What are the qualifiers for a green home? Here is a checklist that will guide you in determining the features of a green house and the benefits you can…

If you happen to be looking for a green home or eco-friendly dwellings, you might be confused on how to determine if it is truly green. What are the qualifiers for a green home? Here is a checklist that will guide you in determining the features of a green house and the benefits you can get when you live in it.

Area: Green houses and communities should not be on environmentally sensitive locations such as farmland, wetlands and endangered animals surroundings. The ideal sites are “in-fill” properties like previous parking lots, rail yard, shopping mall and factories. Choose a location wherein public transportation such as bus lines, light rail and subways systems are accessible. In this way, you can leave your car at home. It must also be near the park, school and stores. Everything must be reachable as possible so that you can just ride on your bicycle if you need something. It will not just save you from fuel; it is a healthy activity as well.

Dimension: Keep in mind that if the lot is big, it requires greater heating, air conditioning and lighting. And this is like spending double on your electricity bills. A smaller house will allow you to save more energy. Although it does not have to be very small, just enough to accommodate you and your family.

Infrastructure Design: Your house must be located in an area that can take advantage of the natural daylight. In this way, you can minimize the use of lighting requirements and make use of the coolness of the air. Make use of the parts of your house to bring light inside. You must have shading devices like sunshades, canopies, green screens and trees to help you control the amount of sunlight that comes inside. Dual glaze windows lessen the heat during summer season and heat loss during winter. The roof must have eco-friendly features like light-colored, high reflector of heat or a green (landscaped) roof.

Eco-friendly construction materials: A green house should use healthy and non-toxic materials and furnishings. If you use wood in some areas, make sure they come from renewable sources like bamboo. It is recommended to use eco products since they are made of mostly organic and recycled components.

Energy Efficient Appliances: As much as possible use appliances and devices that have energy saving features, you start from your lights, heater, cooler and other necessary tools. Some of them might be costly, but it is a worthy investment.

Front Yard Landscape: Your landscape plays a big role in the external appearance of your house. You want to make it look very appealing. When you choose ornaments and plants, be sure to place it in such a way that it will help minimize heat islands. The plants you use must withstand the droughts.

Choosing a green house can have a lot of things that must be considered. But the advantages that you can get and the act of helping the environment are much more than price of the house.

Real Estate – Making Your Home and Wallet Go Green

Improve your yard, improve your home's value . The hot days of summer are once again upon us. Humidity benefits, swimming pool waters warm, and the air conditioners whirrr. Whether inside or poolside, start digging through some landscaping magazines. If you have lived in Charlotte NC, you have witnessed the breathtaking displays of color bought…

Improve your yard, improve your home's value .

The hot days of summer are once again upon us. Humidity benefits, swimming pool waters warm, and the air conditioners whirrr. Whether inside or poolside, start digging through some landscaping magazines.

If you have lived in Charlotte NC, you have witnessed the breathtaking displays of color bought by Azaela's, Dogwoods, Crepe Myrtles, Tulips, Daffodils, Maples and Poplar Trees … from the ground to the sky, our area offers a burst of magnificent colors every season.

You can create this as well. It's not expensive, and it's not hard .

You may actually find it to be a good form of therapy! The peace from the yard, and a solid sense of achievement.

Landscaping and planting are great fall activities in Charlotte North Carolina. The reason for this is that if you plant in the Fall, the easy fall weather and light winter climate will actually have your plants growing fine with little or no babysitting. You can reap multiple rewards by mapping out your fall landscaping during the lazy days of summer. During the gray days of winter, put your plan together for your spring vegetable garden!

A word of caution: if you plant your grass, bulbs, shrubs or trees in the Spring (rather that the fall) you will be nursing your yard all Spring. Summer will arrive before you know it and if your plants are not rooted well, you may lose them to the heat.

Improving your homes curb appealing works for all market areas … not just our Charlotte real estate market . If you have bought a home with a dismal yard, or sometimes, new construction with nary a tree, creating a yard is a great way to help improve your homes future marketability-and hence-value. If your home is attractive on the outside (yard included) as well as the inside, it will not sit on the market as long as a home with a bad yard will.

Really.

Creating your yard is a three dimensional act.

Jot down a plan on some paper, and play with the plan as though you were arranging a room in your house. The plants being the furniture: the yard being the room.

Continue on paper, add some nice detailing: stepping stones, a place for the grill, where furniture would go. Start a little notebook of plants that you like.

Check out some upscale neighborhood entry ways, and public gardens, local plant nurseries. There is nothing like strong as a visual confirmation on what you had in mind. Keep in mind the varying shades of green trees and shrubs come in and how many seasons a plant can perform for you. A lot of the plants in Charlotte can bring you three seasons of color!

Remember, once planted, these things grow up and out. Space them respectively. Follow directions.

Curb appealing should not be relegated to just the front yard.

Take photos of your backyard in the morning and in the afternoon. That way, if you are not sure on how a plant will do in your yard, you can always discuss its location and adaptability with the local nursery. The clay soil in Charlotte is rich in minerals and once amended, the things that you can grow here are almost limitless. The time to plant and work on next year's yard improvements is in the Fall.

It takes a weekend to paint a room in your home. This is fine. But, paint for a new buyer is something they plan on doing anyway. It will not improve your home's future marketability like a good yard will.

It takes time to develop your yard. My suggestion … start educating yourself about landscaping this summer, and start your home's yard this Fall!

Making Your Home More Energy Efficient

Energy has become one of the most debatable issues in today's world and it is no surprise that more homes are looking to reduce carbon emissions and theseby create a more sustainable and healthy world. In fact lot of governments across the world are making it mandatory for homes to have energy efficient systems installed,…

Energy has become one of the most debatable issues in today's world and it is no surprise that more homes are looking to reduce carbon emissions and theseby create a more sustainable and healthy world. In fact lot of governments across the world are making it mandatory for homes to have energy efficient systems installed, in order to reduce the dependency on non-renewable sources of energy like coal or fossil fuels.

Apart from being a part of the noble energy saving initiative, having an energy efficient system installed at home has its other advantages as well. You will certainly increase the overall worth of your home by having an energy efficient system as a part of the home. A few energy efficient systems that can be installed to make your house non-dependent on conventional sources of energy are the following. As you decide to work towards the goal of an energy efficient house, the first step is to do an energy audit. You need to check the usage of energy in your house and check ways to reduce usage of electricity which is normally generated from non-renewable sources of energy.

A few systems that are typically used to make the house more energy efficient are:

Solar powered systems: These are systems which use solar power to generate electricity and run your equipments. Most common form of solar systems available nowdays is those which are used for room heaters or water heaters. The only disadvantage associated with this type of power is the initial cost associated with the installation. They are quite expensive to install, but end up being very cost effective in the long run, with returns on equipment working out at at least eight to ten years.

Rain water harvesting systems: Like solar systems, these are also very expensive to install and require quite a lot of planning; especially in the initial stages. They need detailed workings to be done, so that every drop of rainwater is harvested. It also requires additional land to make the entire system viable; since these are practically possible in big communities, which can warrant that the cost per house will work out to be quite cheap, as also the benefit can be derived for every house hold, by bringing a reduction in their water bills.

Apart from these tailor made systems, there are a few simple ways to reduce your energy consumption patterns. These steps can be incorporated into your home when you construct the house itself. Cross ventilation in all rooms reduce use of air conditioning and good insulation in the walls can reduce use of heaters as well. Also, higher ceilings and some greenery can reduce the impact of the summer, thereby reducing your air-conditioning bills.

How to Build a Green Energy Home

With increasing price of crude oil and as the level of air pollution increases the best way to conserve energy and protect the environment is to go for a green energy home. If you are building a new house, then this is the best time to implement green technology. You can implement a green energy…

With increasing price of crude oil and as the level of air pollution increases the best way to conserve energy and protect the environment is to go for a green energy home. If you are building a new house, then this is the best time to implement green technology.

You can implement a green energy home project in several ways. One of the easiest ways to start is by installing solar energy system at home. You can install solar energy based water heaters instead of electricity based water heaters. Another excellent option is to install solar panels that use photovoltaic cells to generate electricity from the rays of the sun. This system can be easily built at home using step-by-step guides that can be purchased from Internet.

The feasibility of a solar energy based project will depend on the availability of sunlight through the year. You will also require space on your rooftop that has no obstruction forests and buildings in the near vicinity.

Another excellent option to look for a green energy home project is generating electricity from wind. If you have sufficient breeze all year round and a few hundred square yards of space, then you can install a windmill. Windmill electricity can actually power your entire home and save on electricity bills.

A third option for building a green energy home is to make use of water for generating electricity. If you live in a place that has a steady stream of water, then you can use water to rotate a turbine that can generate electricity for you.

All these green energy home projects will not only save you money and provide clean energy but also reduce your dependence on the utility company and fossil fuels for energy requirements.

If your green energy home project can generate surplus energy then you can always sell the same to the utility company and start learning a nice income. Many Governments around the world are encouraging these projects and offer tax rebates and subsidies.

Curb Home Carbon Footprint

All household has had share of carbon footprint which is accounted for daily energy used for fixtures and appliances down to basic stuff. As defined in Wikipedia, carbon footprint is “the total set of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions caused directly and indirectly by an individual, organization, event or product” (UK Carbon Trust 2008). On a…

All household has had share of carbon footprint which is accounted for daily energy used for fixtures and appliances down to basic stuff. As defined in Wikipedia, carbon footprint is “the total set of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions caused directly and indirectly by an individual, organization, event or product” (UK Carbon Trust 2008). On a daily basis, people unconsciously augment their carbon footprint from indirect result of their purchases, lifestyle and activities. While others are able to curtail their footprint, these people often ride bikes or walk during weekends, dry their clothes outside the house instead of using tumbler dryer; open their window to utilize natural ventilation instead of using ACU and they are smart buyers as they purchase energy efficient appliances.

As we are now gradually experiencing climate changes which was evidently a corollary from greenhouse gas emissions, this disturbing impact on environment is believed to keep on if we will not put together preventive actions. The dire certainty is that climate changes are almost impossible to revert if it continues to get worse, that is the reason why environment advocacy organizations are urging the government, policy maker and corporation to take aggressive measures to address these issues as well as persuasive individuals to combat the problems starting from our very own home, indeed a collective solutions would create a positive results. In addition, those who have plan to build new home, renovate their existing homes and acquire real estate property must establish energy efficiency as the core principle of the house projects and selection of property instead of concentrating only on aesthetics. Along with this, purchasing of household-used products and basic goods such as foods, clothes, home appliances and electric devices have to be done prudently and consider items that have zero or less attributes of carbon footprints.

Construction of energy efficient housing does not have to be expensive, designer and builder purely needs to think of innovative and sustainable approach. These includes employing high value insulation, passive cooling and heating, maximizing the use of day lighting, installing energy efficient windows, go for energy saver fixtures and appropriate orientation of building. According to the Sustainable Development and Mitigation report for Intergovernmental panel on Climate Change, “Considering energy efficiency as the guidance principle during construction of new homes results in both reduced energy bills … and GHG abatement”, this robust approach would not only mean a financial savings on the operations and maintenance but also assuage carbon footprint from increasing steeply. Furthermore, utilizing energy from renewable source such as wind power, solar energy, hydro power, and other natural renewable energy is a positive approach to offset carbon as there are various local areas that have abundant and cheaper renewable energy sources and owners could as well mount solar panels on the top of their roofs to support its power requirements.

Procure and use of certified energy saver home appliance is as much essential as selecting energy efficient house. As home appliances put away huge amount of electricity, in fact it share relative high percentage on the energy bills. It is very important to note that a few types of appliances increase its energy demands and decrease its performance as it gets older such as refrigerator, freezer, and ACU; accordingly, it is wise to replace those with new one. On the other hand, other type of appliances are still able to perform well even at its older life such as entertainment appliances and computers, however, despite the fact that some appliances are still running well, for some reason, some people still have a tension to buy new item, possibly because their appliances are not as efficient as it was new, while others are tired of bringing their appliances to the shops for repair, or they are tempted to purchase the latest model that has many exciting features. Unfortunately, these habits of frequent purchase and dumping of a still good appliance does not help, it only adds up on home's carbon footprint as it requires relative amount of energy to produce this new appliances as well as it generate direct air pollution during production.

Basic home necessities such as foods, furniture, home products and transportation are not exempted from the accountability of generating carbon footprint. Needless to say, individuals regularly buy basic goods in supermarket andalls, and the fact that these products come from different region or may be imported from various countries, the transportation of these products requires relative quantity of energy. That is why individuals are encouraged to purchase locally produced products. Furthermore, people used different mode of transportation on their way to workplace and schools, selecting a more environmentally friendly and energy efficient vehicles as well as using a mass transit are best choice to reduce individual's carbon footprint. While several famous and well-designed urban and town have developed apartments and high density housing buildings within proximity from central business district, this city is surprisingly encouraging people to use bicycle and pedestrian-friendly walkways.

Generally, reducing carbon footprint bought to start at our very own home, these requires awareness on every choices and its corresponding impact to environment as well as employing consistent ideal approach. If everyone can participate in this contemporary challenge as this collective effort would positively avert climate change from getting worse. Participation of few populations is in fact not enough as we practically need everyone's effort to make a difference and save our environment.

Universal Design, Cohousing, and Economic Necessity Spur Green Housing Project in Oaxaca, Mexico

At first blush David Hornick appears to be the most unqualified candidate to be spear-heading a housing development in the state of Oaxaca, one of the southernmost and poorest states in Mexico; His Spanish is sparse to be generous, until earlier this year he had never ventured to this part of the country, he's never…

At first blush David Hornick appears to be the most unqualified candidate to be spear-heading a housing development in the state of Oaxaca, one of the southernmost and poorest states in Mexico; His Spanish is sparse to be generous, until earlier this year he had never ventured to this part of the country, he's never designed or built a home, and he's lived virtually all his life in Schenectady, New York, leading a more or less typical , middle-class Jewish existence.

But Hornick had a vision, born of other life experiences which made him more qualified than most to proceed with the project. “One thing about me,” he explained on his first trip to Oaxaca, “is that once I decide to do something, you know it's already been thoroughly considered – and then there's no stopping me.”

For more than three decades Hornick has been a family physician, diagnosing and treating exclusively aging Americans … through home visits. He and wife Roberta, his partner in the medical practice, have learned that where and how we traditionally live is rarely compelling to graceful and easy aging from a position of economic security.

The answer, as I've come to conclude over the past several months of tutelage from Hornick, at least for creating a blueprint for the solution, is to import some of the characteristics of collaborative housing (cohousing) and as many key elements as practicable of universal design, into a region of the world where the concerns can best be addressed – Oaxaca … for starters. And that's exactly what Hornick's done.

Collaborative housing

Cohousing communities are usually designed as a series of attached or single-family homes along one or more pedestrian walkways or clustered around a courtyard. While the concept originated in Denmark, since the early 1980s it has been promoted in the US, and since then similar communities using the basic concept have developed through other countries in the Western World such as Canada, France, Germany and New Zealand.

Each community includes a larger building facility, a “common house,” constituting the social center of the complex where neighbors can meet, dine, attend to activities which traditionally are not required on a daily basis (ie laundry), and even host guests in small apartments. The latter two points have implications in terms of minimizing overall cost for each resident, since space not normally occupied on a daily basis is omitted from individual homes.

While in the purest of models residents actively participate in the design of their own neighborhood, in this case prospective members are spared that effort – Hornick has devoted his entire adult life to assessing the needs of Americans as their stages in life change. Correspondingly, substantive progress for the Oaxaca project has already been advanced, and in fact there is a website in place, addressing those interested in pursuing a lifestyle change in the foreseeable future. It currently includes photographs of the two proposed tracts of land, site plans and architectural drawings of the two models of home.

Hornick prefers to avoid commonly used terms such as intentional or collaborative housing, as well as cohousing, in favor of simply “neighborhoods” and “communities.” The former import the idea of ​​consensus decision-making, which he does not believe is workable. He does envision, however, a “resident council” (possibly similar to a condominium's board of directors) to assist with suggestions relating to the neighborhood. This indicates that his approach is realistic and his model is feasible. The project does require, he stresses, participants' acceptance of, and working together to promote, certain basic goals: energy efficiency; respect for the environment; the utilization of locally produced “green” materials (in construction and otherwise); affordability; and universal design which enables people of all ages to grow and mature well.

Universal design

Universal design (UD) can be defined as the creation of products (including communication systems) and environments (including landscapes) which are usable by all people, to the greatest possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design. It has often been associated with exclusively addressing the elderly and infirmed. And in fact there should be no doubt that within the context of the Oaxaca project the concept will be extremely attractive to those in their fifties and older, many winding down their careers and embarking upon a new phase of life, “retirement.” But the project's use of universal design addresses more – compatibility with a natural progression of functional changes throughout the lifespan, according to Hornick.

So how does UD address all ages and levels of capability, and thenby make the project attractive to families at every life stage? Hornick explains:

“We're all born helpless and short. We can not reach most light switches until we are about four years old, long after we can stand and walk. , then begins to decline.

“Light switches can be lowered to three feet to be reachable by children as well as people in wheelchairs with limited shoulder mobility. open room door with a free elbow. -over. And there are literally a hundred or more other alternative designs and products available in the marketplace which can be considered, which do not detract from either 'normal' functionality or aesthetics of the home. ”

Hornick has been consulted on seniors' apartment retrofitting projects involving production of state-of-the-art adaptive design prototypes. The Oaxaca project enables its wealth of knowledge and experience to be put into action using a slightly different orientation.

We're in an era when an increasing number of individuals and couples in North America are becoming disillusioned with the work-until-you-drop mentality, the less-than-optimum environments in which they've compelled to live and raise their families, increasing inaccessibility to basic goods and services including healthcare, and much more recently both insecurity in the workplace and shrinking nest eggs.

The Oaxaca blueprint

Based upon Hornick's due diligence, Oaxaca proved to be a potentially attractive location to develop a prototype for what he initially labeled, when he first contacted me for advice in November, 2008, a “retirement community.” That initial characterization was probably meant to pique my initial interest without having me ask too many hard-to-answer questions. I fell for it, and have been enthralled ever since, hosting David at our home, introducing him to a number of professionals he could potentially tap to advance the project, and advising him regarding prospective plots of land.

Latin American locations have distinct advantages over Canadian and American prospective project sites. While remaining north of the Rio Grande may initially appear attractive because of language, ease of access for friends and family as well as for return visits, and cultural familiarity, Oaxaca was selected because of its own unique set of pluses:

1) Access via ground transportation is consistently being improved and upgraded through Mexico's system of toll roads, already extending from various locations along the US border, directly to the City of Oaxaca; and via more convenient flight paths (such as being able to avoid Mexico City by using Continental's non-stop service from Houston, and Mexicana's from Los Angeles);
2) Its highly agreeable climate, 12 months a year, attractive both on an individual personal level and for providing solar energy;
3) Proximity to Pacific Coast beach destinations such as Puerto Escondido and Huatulco;
4) A modest cost of living (ie labor, public transportation, entertainment, food and taxes) relative to the US or Canada, and even to the northern half of the country;
5) Availability of reasonably priced tracts of land, fertile enough and with sufficient rain and ground water to support partial self-savings in terms of agricultural production;
6) A number of prospective development locations from which to choose, no more than a half hour's drive from downtown Oaxaca, assuring proxies to restaurants and cafés, galleries, museums and other cultural institutions, as well as health care professionals and hospital facilities;
7) Its burgeoning expat community (including programs facilitated through the English language Oaxaca Lending Library) together with support from the Canadian and American consulates;
8) Local populations which welcome non-Mexicans, motivated by both a recognition that Canadian and American immigration translates into more work and higher wages for a reliably depressed economy, and an innate desire to embrace foreigners with open arms;
9) An understanding on the part of many of its professionals, trades and business people, and governance, of what the project hopes to achieve, and the potential for the growth of more of the same in other parts of the state.

Each of the two “eco village” sites identified on Hornick's website is equally attractive, meets all criteria, and easily facilitates advancing the set of common goals. The San Juan del Estado development consists of 25 acres and is about 30 minutes from downtown Oaxaca, and San Lorenzo Cacaotepec sits on 75 acres and is only 15 minutes from the city. Each is about 10 minutes from the town of Etla, known for its bustling Wednesday market and production of dairy products, in particular the well-known Oaxacan cheeses (queso, and the more popular “string cheese,” known as quesillo).

Each of the two developments will contain 30 detached homes of about 1,000 square feet, the common house, sheltered walkways, green and garden areas, and its own sources of water and energy as well as waste-disposal facility, theby providing for independence from the vagaries of municipal, state and federal government utilities.

Hornick emphasizes that with more than 300 sunny days per year, the communities will be able to generate and store electricity using photovoltaic technology. Hot water will be produced using solar water heaters. Interior temperatures will be kept comfortable all year round using passive solar heating and cooling techniques – such as construction walls of locally mined stone (known as “cantera”), clay brick or adobe, depending on relative direction of the sun and prevailing winds.

But self-adequacy has its limits, and to some extent dependence on the leader Oaxacan community will be a key element. Hornick plans to develop relationships with residents of nearby towns and villages who are interested in employment as housekeepers, gardeners and personal care aides. In addition, there's a well entrenched practice in the state of Oaxaca whereby expats engage locales in an intercambio language arrangement, wheree a couple of hours a week informal meetings are held to help Oaxacans with their English and expats with their Spanish.

Hornick assures: “… both [locations] will have access to health care services via home care professionals who will live onsite and also via internet video teleconferencing with professionals at recognized centers of excellence.” For several years he has been advocating his own medical practice along such lines. Naturally, in today's technological world he does not see distance, political boundaries, or differences in language and other aspects of culture, as impediments. “Of course there are challenges, but with perseverance they are readily overcome,” he continues. “Look at where I was just a few months ago, with merely an idea and my index finger pointing to a strange location on a globe – and look at where we are now.” Indeed, Hornick with his team of professionals (including Prometeo Sánchez Islas, Dean of the School of Architecture at a Oaxacan university) continue to work diligently on the project.

While visiting Oaxaca Hornick paid particular attention to indicia of cost of living, to the point of photographing sale prices in a supermarket (which attracted the attention of store management). He is currently trying to pin down other costs such as transportation; medical insurance and other expenses; housekeeping, maintenance, landscaping and gardening (although he believes that it's important for residents to participate in such activities for exercise and to maintain a sense of function and purpose). “I'm trying to come up with a 'soft' figure to enable interested parties to determine if they can survive on social security alone.” he reassures. But one thing is for sure – cost of living should be less than 50% of what most live on in the US or Canada.

The horizon

Hornick plans to begin pre-selling homes at summer's end or maybe into autumn, at a small discount for those electing to participate early on in the project, as a kind of kick-start to development. For him, and for most on his team, the motivation is pure altruism, having identified a sense of urgency on the part of many American, Canadians, and even Mexicans, and being in the enviable position of being able to address it in this fashion , without profit motive.

In a sense he's a pioneer, having started with a dream for a better, more respectful, easier and self-fulfilling life for others in a new environment, virgin land to continue with the metaphor. He plans to lay down roots in Oaxaca, and carry on a medical practice, encouraging others of similar means to follow suit.

It was clearly different for those who had the privilege and the instinct to find something better hundreds of years ago in opening up the American frontiers. Today there's more of a necessity, yet with virtually no gamble involved. After all, investing between $ 100,000 and $ 150,000 to have a quality constructed new home, in a safe, secure southern climate, while at the same time substantially cutting expenses through supporting a sustainable living environment, should not be too difficult a lifestyle decision to make – especially for those who have already been contemplating change.

Green Roof Systems

Each year the amount of green space in the UK is affected by the continued requirement for new builds. The key players and influencers in the house building market need to take urgent action to ensure that new buildings are designed with green space in mind. Gordon Brown has set targets for 5 new eco-towns…

Each year the amount of green space in the UK is affected by the continued requirement for new builds. The key players and influencers in the house building market need to take urgent action to ensure that new buildings are designed with green space in mind.

Gordon Brown has set targets for 5 new eco-towns accounting for 100,000 homes. Thankfully these developments are ear marked for old industrial or brownfield sites. However, due to population increases and lack of space it is likely that there will be a case for high density housing.

Key living roof commentators such as Dusty Gedge would argue that designers should make green space a top priority in early design stages to help ensure that high density housing maximizes green space. Living green roofs can help to maximize green space in such developments. We often forget about the amount of roof space available which can be used as sky gardens. With so much space being taken up by the footprint of buildings, calls for sky gardens or green roofs are now high on the agenda.

Green roof systems not only are an aesthetic feature but they help significantly reduce the urban heat island affect. Many of us will be well aware that inner city temperatures are often 5 degrees higher than our rural neighbors. Green roofs lock in moisture giving a cooling effect to our inner city concrete jungles. They act as a haven for wildlife and importantly reduce surface water run off. So in turn helping to reduce strains on drainage systems.

Large schemes incorporating green space are not uncommon and one well known example is the BedZED eco-homes. The Beddington Zero Energy Development (BedZED) recognized the importance of roof terraces and balcony's including green roofs to maximize green space. Not to mention the improved insulation properties that green roofs can achieve.