In 2007 issues like pollution, cancer and global warming are found on the American news every week. In the last five years these universal problems have been acknowledged and started to emerge in mainstream consciousness. Solutions such as renewable energy, green building and organic farming are now hot topics being talked about on TV, in newspapers and on the radio. In order to preserve the planet for future generations, it is essential that natural green building is embraced and eco homes and other green practices become the standard. One community that is leading the way is a beautiful city nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains: Asheville, North Carolina.
Working Together to Preserve Western North Carolina
In the Blue Ridge Mountains of WNC environmental concerns are a top priority. Preserving the natural environment of the mountains insures the health and safety of communities throughout the region. The city of Asheville, along with other counties and towns in WNC, like Black Mountain, recognizes that green space, green building and alternative resources are the wave of the future. Asheville is home to numerous green projects and initiatives. Blue Ridge BioFuels is an organization that has opened six biodiesel pumps at gas stations in the area. Blue Ridge BioFuels also supplies BioHeat for furnaces. Home delivery and competitive prices make it simple to begin using alternative fuels at home and on the road. Green building also plays a huge role in preserving local natural resources. Use of recycled construction materials, rainwater collection systems, and solar power all benefit the forests, animals and people.
The Possibilities Are Endless With Green Real Estate in Asheville, NC
In December of 2006 Asheville joined about fifty other municipalities across the country and passed a resolution stating that all new municipal buildings will be built to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) specifications. LEED is a nationally accepted green building rating system created by the U.S, Green Building Council, http://www.usgbc.org, and sets the standard for the design, construction and maintenance of energy efficient homes and buildings. Asheville is also home to the Western North Carolina Green Building Council (WNCGBC), http://www.wncgbc.org. WNCGBC educates local contractors and builders about the latest green building techniques and practices. WNCGBC also works with city, state and county officials to make eco-friendly recommendations for local building standards. In Asheville, NC homebuyers searching for eco houses or green home building projects have a variety of options from downtown apartments to eco-friendly, real estate developments.
Sustainable Green Building: Find the Perfect, Eco-Friendly Real Estate in Western North Carolina
In Asheville, NC many homeowners, architects and builders work diligently to follow eco-friendly building, design and maintenance plans. To complete a green building project specific topics must be addressed including:
- Sustainable Development
- Alternative Energy
- Energy Efficiency
- Green Building Materials
- Forest Preservation
- Renewable Resources
Whether you are searching for a green condo centrally located in downtown Asheville or an eco home in a private, gated community you can find the perfect green real estate in Western North Carolina. In the mountains it is simple to contribute and help preserve Asheville’s excellent quality of life for years to come.
There are times in a celebrities life that the glitz and the glamour offer less and less comfort. It is during these times that the celebrities return to their roots and try to make life better for those that are less fortunate than themselves. Celebrity actor, Ed Norton, has done just that with a company his grandfather started.
As the trustee of Enterprise Foundation, the nations number one non-profit builder of low income housing, Ed Norton has found his roots in charity work. The key to this organization is offering reliable housing for the less fortunate. This housing, unlike the low income housing of the past, is built with renewable energy and the Earth in mind.
Unlike the home and car choices of celebrities like Ed Norton, American’s who are forced into low income housing do not have a choice of green and eco-friendly housing plans. There has never before been a government subsidized home building project that even took living life cheaper and more Earth friendly into consideration. While celebrities like Ed Norton have the option to drive renewable energy cars and build homes with solar panels and other sources of renewable energy, low income families do not have these home choices.
The result of building low income housing with renewable energy in mind, is home maintenance and utility costs that are three times lower than other low income housing choices. Ed Norton has solar panels for his home and he believes that low income families should have that same choice.
For celebrities like Ed Norton, the idea of charity often refers to giving money to some organization and then dropping off the map. But, with a trustee position on a ground breaking company like Enterprise Foundation, Ed Norton is upping the stakes and saving lower income families some money in the process.
If you are like me, you are constantly trying to reduce your carbon footprint and dependence on oil and other non- renewable energy sources. I drive a hybrid, am slowing converting all my incandescent light bulbs to CFL bulbs, recycle as much as possible and use water bottles instead of buying bottled water. Needless to say these are small steps and I often wonder if I could be doing more – much more.
As a realtor I tour homes every week in which the builder or homeowner has spared no expensive to upgrade the kitchen and baths, finish the basement, add decorative moldings, plant expensive landscaping, install automatic sprinkler systems, etc. But rarely do I see a home with an alternative, eco friendly heating and cooling system.
Here in Massachusetts about half of all homes are heated by oil. According to the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association costs for heating a home by oil this winter are expected to increase by 47.3% from last winter. Projected increases for natural gas and electricity are less shocking, 9.2% and 8.6% respectively. Given these high costs you would think that more consumers would be going green and turning to alternative sources of energy, such as geothermal or solar, for home heating and cooling. Apart from the very progressive developer or builder, that is just not the case from what I see in my day to day adventures in real estate.
Many people are under the impression that 1) eco friendly systems for heating and cooling are too expensive install and/or 2) not possible without the perfect climatic conditions. These systems can be more expensive, but as the technology improves the price will and has decreased. There is also the additional offset of long term savings on heating and cooling costs. In regards to the second issue – geothermal and solar systems can be installed almost anywhere. Germany, not exactly the sunniest of locations, uses more solar energy than any other country in the world. Even in New England the ground is sufficiently warm enough to produce geothermal heat. Case in point – Monarch Lofts in Lawrence is installing a geothermal system to heat and cool 202 residential condo units.
Granted going green does often increase costs, at least in the short term, but should home heating costs continue to escalate, I am sure consumers will begin to demand homes with alternative heating sources and other eco conscious features. Recent surveys have shown that buyers are willing to pay extra for a new home with eco friendly features.
Of course in the interim there are options for those of us wanting to do our part for the environment, but unable to build a new home.
- Remodeling? Incorporate some green or renewable materials such as bamboo flooring, low toxic finishes, low flow toilets and showers, countertops made from recycled glass, etc. For inspiration and materials check out Ecohaus.
- Install programmable thermostats, compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL), and solar or on-demand water heaters.
- Pay attention to the Energy Star ratings and buy energy efficient appliances.
- Install energy efficient windows and insulation.
By doing what we can now and demanding alternatives in the near future, perhaps we can make a difference in preserving the planet for our children and grandchildren.