The movers are on their way, and you are getting excited to have your items unpacked and all settled in, but there are a few things left to figure out, such as what types of utilities to use in your new house.
If your utilities haven’t already been activated, you should do some investigating to see what types of energy is offered in your state. If you have made a move California, you are in luck as three of the top ten greenest cities in the United States are located in sunny California. If you made the trek to another state, don’t worry, as there has been a large effort to move to green energy in many states over the last several years. To find out if there are any green utility products available in your state, visit the U.S. Department of Energy website at Energy.gov and select your state.
The term green energy generally refers to a type of electricity that is produced from a renewable energy source, such as wind, solar power, geothermal etc. In the United States, over 50% of energy customers are able to purchase a green utility product directly from their electricity supplier.
The shift to green power is not off in the distant future anymore, it is becoming a reality. It is important for all of us to utilize green energy sources when possible, as we need to support the increase of renewable energy sources. This can reduce the burning of fossil fuels, such as natural gas, coal, and oil.
Once you have chosen and activated your green utility services, you can look for other regional green services such as a recycling center or transfer station. You will most likely have boxes and other materials leftover after your move that can be recycled if not stored for reuse. Get to know your local service facilities and find out the specifics on their procedures for proper recycling and disposal of your household items. While doing this research, you can visit Earth911.com to find out what services are offered to you locally.
Getting a fresh start and taking a new approach to living green can be a good way to refocus and get motivated again after your move.
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.
Green Development is a relatively new concept that relies on the premise of conserving energy and utilizing it efficiently. Through improved siting, design, construction and maintenance, Green Development enhances the efficiency of materials and ensures their optimal use.
The concept of Green Development should be inculcated with sustainable development to ensure benefits like increased productivity, reduced operating costs, improved indoor air quality, as well as lesser water runoff and heat island effect. The practice of Green Development does not imply that the resulting structure will lack in appearance and style. Green Developments can be equally elegant structures having the desirable ecological benefits. This sort of a construction concept is necessary for environmental conversation and is regulated by standards created by the U.S. Green Building Council.
Green Development aims to construct structures with minimal impact to the environment. The key is to ensure that the materials used in the construction are green indicating that they are local, non-toxic and naturally renewable. Examples include bamboo, oak, straw, stone etc. Other Green Development construction techniques entail the inclusion of large windows for ample sunshine to enter thus, reducing the dependence on electricity; thermal mass that can heat and cool the building during different seasons; energy efficient machinery like refrigerators, stoves and ground source heat pumps; and insulation to prevent energy loss. It is also important to ensure proper waste disposal mechanism. A major factor that can significantly benefit the environment is the use of renewable energy sources like wind energy, hydro energy and solar energy.
The increasing popularity of the Green Development concept has led many countries to establish standards. The pioneers are the U.S. Green Building Council; other bodies include U.K’s Code for Sustainable Homes, Canada’s EnerGuide for Houses, Switzerland’s Minergie, Australia’s House Energy Rating and others. These countries are actively pursuing environmental friendly Green Development techniques to promise environmental health and sustenance. Some of the renowned Green Builders are Walter Segal, Steve Baer, Rocky Mountain Institute, Ken Yeang and James Wines.
San Jose, California has presented an excellent example which reflects Green Development concepts. Due to the unprecedented growth and economic development of San Jose in 1960s and 1970s, there arose a need to meet the growing urban demands. The answer was Santana Row which is a San Jose shopping centre consisting of several chic brand retailers like Gucci, Brooks Brothers, Burberry, Crate and Barrel, Borders etc. Santana Row is the formulation of the shopping, dining and living dream; it boasts of 680,000 square feet of retail space; 1,200 luxury rental units including town houses, lofts, and flats; a 214- room hotel; a 12-screen entertainment cinema; 5,200 parking spaces; a pedestrian-friendly main street; public open space; plazas and courtyards. State-of-the-art facilities equipped with modern construction and amenities make Santana Row a much desirable spot for people from all walks of life. Santana Row efficiently utilized the available resources at hand to create a unique, successful and popular structure.
Santana Row has evolved as an outstanding creation that entails all facets of life within 43 acres of land. This very fact proves the competent use of limited land. Whatever the need may be, Santana Row provides the answer; it is the epitome of the one-stop concept to meet all needs.
Mixed use development is the name given to similar structures that are intended for many purposes like shopping, dining and living. Street Works is a team of professional developers, architects and planners who initiate concepts in urban locales and passionately take steps to materialize their concepts.
Street Works excels in identifying potential locations for a business opportunity and then taking appropriate steps to analyze, design and create a plan that would work with the requirements of the area. This gives birth to construction and development ideas that are relatively new. These include mixed use, residential, commercial as well as urban revitalization projects.
Street Works has been successful in identifying a few projects that can be potentially lucrative opportunities for the involved businesses. These include 620 Avenue of the Americas in New York City, Quincy in Massachusetts, Blue Black Square in Connecticut, Reston Town Centre in Virginia and a few more. Street Works aspires to create the Santana Row phenomenon in each of these areas where retailers, restaurants, cinemas and builders will collectively provide an array of services and facilities to the residents and customers. Street works has arrived at these locations by conducting extensive market research and analysis. The importance of market research cannot be stressed enough before the launch of any project. Potential impacts of the project should be carefully assessed before the idea starts taking shape. In this manner, one can be prepared to handle the various difficulties, challenges and situations a project may present.
The increasing population and development presents an opportunity to take up similar projects and explore the possibilities. Land and other limited resources should be put to proficient use and thus create an environmental friendly and convenient experience for all. Although a mixed use development project is a risky proposition, adequate research and study will help to choose areas that have the best chances of thriving with mixed use developmental structures. The most popular choice for a mixed use development considering all elements tends to be the downtown area of a city. Planners and developers have made several observations and predictions about the success and benefits of such structures; but despite all noted pros and cons, mixed use developments have immense potential and promise to be the most visited and acclaimed places provided the areas they are built in are easily accessible and acceptable to the residents of the city.