5 Most Important Features for Green Homes

Monday, December 10, 2012 11:37
Posted in category LEED Certification Articles

Green HomeIn recent years, the idea of “Green Homes” has moved beyond the niche that it once was to the mainstream because of overwhelming evidence that they benefit the homeowners’ pockets, their health and the environment. Homeowners are recognizing that building their home to be more energy efficient and healthier is a wise investment for themselves and the community. Even those who have lived in a home for a long time are having it retrofitted with sustainable features to lower their bills and improve their health. Here is a list of the top 5 features that every Green Home should have. Of course, there is no strict definition of a green home and there is unlimited creativity that can be used to make a home “green,” but these should not be missed.

1) Holistic Approach

The most important “feature” that any green home can have should be included before construction even begins. That is, an integrated, holistic approach that takes every aspect of both sustainable and traditional building knowledge into account. Seeing the building through a wide lens, as an interrelated system in which everything is considered to determine the true performance of the building is crucial to being truly “green.” The whole house approach takes often over-looked aspects into account; construction site sustainability, long-term durability, waste stream, performance monitoring, occupant health and comfort, and carbon footprint, along with the more obvious motives of energy and water efficiency.

Some like to think of each new plot of land for a new building as a small factory where, on average, 22,000 components are needed. Just like real factories are moving towards “lean manufacturing” techniques, which systematically looks at each step of the process and removes any flaws, the ideal green home will have been well thought-out and coordinated. Ideally, the designer would perform a whole-house computer simulation that compares multiple combinations of variables to arrive at the most cost-effective and sustainable solution.

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Energy Audits For Green Homes

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 14:27
Posted in category Uncategorized

The housing market is not what it used to be. Nowadays fewer people are purchasing brand-new homes in favor of renovating their properties or renting due to the vast uncertainty surrounding housing trends. Renovation work can create a sustainable revenue stream for savvy building professionals, and so can energy auditing, a profession that is pretty easy to enter. Anyone can work as an energy auditor, whose job involves walking through properties, assessing building systems, rating their relative efficiency, and seeking ways to improve the building system to lower the cost of energy for the consumer.

Residential energy auditors can make a living by selling their skill set to neighbors who are looking for an affordable way to improve home energy efficiency. If you already work in the building industry as a contractor, HVAC specialist, or homebuilder, then you already possess a lot of the practical knowledge that energy auditors rely on when conducting audits. An energy auditor training course, such as a BPI Certification course, will build upon your knowledge of building systems and give you practice in doing walkthroughs and using auditing software and tools to measure building performance.

Green jobs are the way forward. As energy becomes more expensive, green building professionals will be able to leverage their skills to help people lower their utility bills and save money in the long run. Homeowners will more often look to green certified renovators and energy auditors for cost-effective ways to improve their home’s energy efficiency, such as retrofitting appliances and outlets to optimize energy use.

There is no time like the present to join the ever-growing green building industry, whether you enter the field as a solar professional, energy auditor, lead safe renovator, or building analyst. Find out how you can get a foothold in the sustainable building field. Your supplemental income is just a green job training course away.

Going Green Is Financially Savvy

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 4:12
Posted in category Energy Auditor Articles

by Robert Gluck

Okay, first off – if you haven’t thought of getting an energy audit done for your cherished home, then go for it NOW.

Aside from saving you hundreds of dollars annually on energy bills, an energy audit by a certified professionally particularly, gives you increased efficiency & productivity and increased comfort (who can live with air drafts and heat leaks?) at a lower price.

Want to save a few more bucks by not hiring a professional certified energy auditor and doing it yourself?

It’s possible, but it is by no means a substitute for an energy audit by a licensed professional who has undergone specialized courses like energy auditor certification and more.

At best a DIY energy audit will provide a preliminary guide to identifying the particular problems you need to correct in a program of up-grading your home’s energy efficiency.

Whereas a professional energy auditor will check your house thoroughly for energy leaks by devices like infrared devices and blower door tests, which can detect even the most obscure corners of your abode that may be leaking air and even go through all your electrical appliances that maybe costing Mother Nature a lot!

Plus if that wasn’t enough to convince you, this just will – a professional audit can also make you eligible for tax rebate.

A preliminary guide will help you when you do communicate with a licensed pro.

A good way to start is to visit the ENERGY STAR internet site – www.energystar.gov.

ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Introduced in 1992 as a voluntary labeling program, it is designed to identify and promote energy efficient products to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption.

Most people who buy new electrical appliances know that an ENERGY STAR label tells you how much energy the appliance will use.

Manufacturers made dramatic reductions in energy consumption to qualify for the label and the ENERGY STAR label program has been extended to major appliances, office equipment, lighting and home electronics.

It also covers new homes, commercial, and industrial buildings.

At the ENERGY STAR site click on the following file tabs:

  1. Common Home Problems and Solutions;
  2. Home Energy Yardstick;
  3. Home Advisor;
  4. & Assess Your Home.

These will provide you with some information about your home that an energy auditor would give you. (Remember: only some information.)

Another excellent online resource can be found at www.energysavers.gov.

Here you can find guidance on such topics as:

  • Tax Credits and Rebates;
  • Designing and Remodeling;
  • Heating and Cooling;
  • Water Heating;
  • Appliances and Electronics;
  • Insulation and Air Sealing;
  • Windows, Doors and Skylights.

If ever there was a particularly bankable time to invest in energy upgrades, it’s now!

Why?

Because Congress has approved specific federal tax credits for most of the energy upgrades that you are likely to install and there also are state tax credits and grants available for selected energy up-grades.

Plus recession clouds haven’t bid their goodbyes yet which translates to the fact that many contractors are hungry for new work.

This advantageous circumstance can get you productive results – you can easily score more competitive bids than you would likely achieve if you postponed the work until the recession is over.

Another significant reason is this – some rate caps on electricity will end.

For example, in the year 2010, energy firm PECO has advised its customers that the “rate caps” they are under, will expire and the cost of electricity will increase by 20-40 percent.

The result of that increase will mean a speedier payback on the cost of any improvement that reduces your consumption of electricity or a significant additional expense if you don’t.

Recent legislation at federal, state, and local levels created an unprecedented number of publicly funded financial incentives to assist homeowners who want to invest in energy savings.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, aka the Stimulus Act, provides funds that support weatherization for households earning less than $44,000 for a family of four.

Some cities, like Philadelphia, have proposed the creation of financial and other incentive programs to assist homeowners that don’t meet the act’s income requisites.

Bottom line here: don’t overlook the fact that the investment you make pays off in two ways:

  1. lowering your monthly utility bills,
  2. & increasing the market value of your home.

If you plan to remain in your home for two years or more, this may be the smartest ‘green’ investment you can make.

You will be investing at the bottom of the market and are really likely to enjoy the increased value of your investment when the housing market recovers from the gloomy economical clouds hovering over us.

Till then, be green and invest smart.