There are three, interdependent challenges to Florida housing providers: a) Safety; b) Affordability; and c) Energy efficiency.
If we can’t find a way to address all three challenges at the same time, we’re likely to complicate solutions for two of them while we focus only on the third. For instance: We can make houses super-safe and super-energy-efficient while driving costs beyond the abilities of most folks to pay.
We can make houses cheap enough for most people to own by taking short cuts on safety and energy efficiency. But making homes that are safe and energy efficient and also within the reach of most citizens requires addressing the ways these challenges are connected.
Green building requires green community planning. As important as our innovative approach is, we can’t address the larger carbon footprint/climate change issues through housing technology alone – no more than we can address the problem through automobile technology alone.
Going Off The Grid
Creating off-the-grid, energy-efficient housing in “greenfield” suburbs and rural enclaves will still require each adult in the family to commute to separate daily needs in separate automobiles, canceling out many of the energy gains. Over the last 30 years, the number of miles
Americans drive has grown three times faster than the population and almost twice as fast vehicle registrations. Spread-out development-sprawl is the main reason for that.
Research suggests that people who move into compact, walk-able neighborhoods are making as big a contribution to fighting global warming as those who buy hybrid vehicles but remain tied to car-dependent lifestyles. We need to make living in more dense configurations appealing.
Practical Can’t Be Ugly
To succeed, green community planning needs housing alternatives that are not only practical-safe and energy efficient-but also beautiful. Neighbors have to be willing to welcome these new additions to their communities. Even if they can’t explain why, neighbors must instantly associate these new house designs with admired regional vernacular, and they must immediately sense quality in the choice of materials and construction approaches.
Affordable Can’t Be Cheap
The trouble is, quality design and construction costs more than inferior design and construction. Factory-built housing approaches can help deliver higher quality at manageable price points. But up until now, the manufactured home industry has focused on using systems building technology to reduce prices and not to raise design and construction quality. The result is factory-built housing’s image as the last resort for home ownership.
Many communities, including those in hurricane zones along the Gulf Coast, have zoned manufactured homes out of existing neighborhoods for fear of lowering surrounding property values.
In conclusion, our new mission is to re-invent a whole category of manufactured housing that delivers optimum safety, energy efficiency, and curb appeal — while making the most of cost-saving advantages inherent in factory building.
With the talk of global warming and climate change dominating headlines these days, many industries, including the real estate sector, are contemplating on finding ways to reduce waste, pollution and improve profits at the same time.
The home building industry now has totally bought into the idea of green building, and a lot of reasons are in store for why they are rerouting themselves in this direction.
How Fast Should Building Green Go For The Real Estate Industry?
The major question these days is that, how quick should the industry adapt the concepts of “building green”, and when would it become the norm for all home developer decisions?
Since 2007, the industry has seen a 70% rise in total LEED registered and certified home building projects, on top of more than 50% cumulative growth in 2006. The reason is that, there have been major events or developments in the past two years, among them are the outpouring of concern over carbon dioxide emissions from energy use of all kinds, Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Price for An Inconvenient Truth, and the effects made by Hurricane Katrina and its exposure of the vulnerability of a major American city to natural forces.
With these events in mind, much of the public today is demanding action on climate change, in ways both small and significant. Because most major US businesses still know how to listen to the consumer, it realizes that a large part of its future success would surely come from reducing its carbon footprint, through initiating energy conservation programs and greening new buildings.
Potential Benefits For Home Builders Who Go Green
For home developers who would embrace the concepts of green building, there are a lot of potential benefits that would await them. Among the positive aspects of going green are:
- The Demand is Present.
Many commercial office tenants are realizing the business case for productivity and health in LEED-certified buildings, and are looking at options that offer superior daylighting and indoor air quality. A previous survey on businesses found out that the levels of employee satisfaction with their working conditions showed greater increases when they ere working in more energy-efficient and greener workplaces, than on non-certified workplaces. In the public sector, the demand is also growing, as one agency after another makes a commitment to LEED-certify all future public buildings.
- More Savings On Energy
This idea has gone from being a “good one” to a necessity for many businesses. It’s not simply because energy conservation has a positive life-cycle cost impact, but also that it offers a direct reduction in a firm or corporation’s total “carbon footprint.” A number of researches have indicated that energy conservation not only also offers a positive way to save and make more money, but that it’s also the most cost-effective way to lower society’s carbon dioxide output, and only requires an ability to finance the investment, and won’t need to buy newer technology.
- Green Building Shows A Visible Sense Of Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporate America these days is desperate for getting good people. Going green helps improve a businesses reputation, and will help in them hiring the good types of people to work for them, especially the younger ones aged 24 to 45 . If a company cannot attract and keep these people by conforming their business practices to their values, then it would be quite hard for the firm to prosper. Green building represents a visible and more positive affirmation of the values of sustainability and social responsibility, and is an indicator of what companies’ need to make to get and keep good people.
- Going Green Helps Increase Property Values.
A study released in October by the University of San Diego, revealed that in the 2,000 large office buildings in the CoStar® database of commercial properties, the ones that had Energy Star-rated office buildings, which are those in the top 25 percent of energy performance, have had 2% higher occupancy levels, as well as $2 per square foot greater rents. In addition, Energy Star buildings as of 2006 sold at a 30% premium in dollars per square foot, as compared to non-Energy Star-rated buildings. This shows that green buildings are more valuable, and will continue to be become more valuable with each year.
If we are really serious about building greener homes then we also should perhaps consider the carbon footprint of cement, that’s right, the concrete under your feet, inside your home, the walkways around it and the deck by the pool too? What about the drive way and sidewalks in front of the house, yep, all that is concrete too. But you ask, I thought concrete was inert, how can it put out CO2?
Interesting you should ask that, as the building industry was shocked too, when it learned that 5-10% of all the CO2 emitted comes from the making of concrete, did you know that? I didn’t and was blown away by that figure when I read it is in the Christian Science Monitor the other day. But when you think about it, well, it makes perfect sense. You see, the concrete is made of limestone, silt or sand and chemicals. That means there are tractors, conveyors, rock crushers, cement trucks, and some of the sand comes from the Middle East on ships too.
Think of all the concrete in our civilizations, we have roads, freeways, parking lots, sidewalks, storm drain pipes, damns, and even sides of buildings “tilt-ups” are made of concrete. Yes, just think of all that concrete under our feet, inside and around your home. It all has a carbon-footprint.
Well, do not worry because the building industry is looking into solving these problems and reducing the amount of cement used in the foundations, and in Europe, it is reported that they use a lot of carbon eating concrete. Maybe someday they can mix carbon nano-tube coatings to increase the strength of the concrete, reducing the amount used and making it much stronger in the process too?