Friday, March 28, 2008

Preserving water is smart Green Action

I am visiting India for a short 9 day trip and noted the local growth in housing and public infrastructure with amazement. The landscape here looks thirsty for water and dust particles in air are everywhere. You just wonder what would happen if the design of storm sewer system shifted its goal to take water away and dump into a drainage channel. What if the design maximized the capture of this water on site and reuse it for maintaining grass or plant cover. The outside paved surfaces would be pervious areas keeping it cool and allowing water to go through and store it underground.

Global warming has shifter the patterns and it is time we learn to deal with it and design our communities with future impact of extreme weather in mind. Water shortages are predictable and at the same time rain may come few times but with high intensity. Store it for times of dry spells is the only smart way to deal with and not expect the municipality to supply all the water needed for a growing community. Smart planners would deal with it via smart design and preserve this valuable natural gift of life. Our life and plants life depends on water. Nations leaders must focus on promoting and providing incentives for local rain water harvesting solutions at new community developments. Cooler outside land area will also help in lower energy cost and allow better green environment with less dust polluting the air.

This thinking as much valid for India as any other place and there are signs that more people are now open to Green ideas.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Green Homes are smart investment for smart people

Who does not want to get better value? So why are so many buying ordinary old design of buildings in the name of saving money. The answer is that knowledge about what green means is yet to reach them. Luckily the word is spreading fast and as climate change and global warming focuses on energy and water, it will not take too long to learn that Green design offers the real solution to reduce energy costs and help the environment.

There are many incentives from federal and state programs which can help reduce the first cost and allow the owners to benefit from long term lower operating costs. A trained LEED certified professional from US Green Building Council can help find the right solution for local condition.

As modular home builders adopt green, more efficient manufacturing will deliver better solution to ordinary people who do not have anyway of assuring quality in construction under varying weather conditions. Homes built inside the factories have a bright future as we move to this specialized field pf unique quality green homes.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Modular Green homes offer better value for customer

It is now a matter of time that factory built modular homes would adopt Green standards and give more choices to customer looking for such homes when local home builders are still reluctant to get into this market.

Trained professional staff using computer models to minimize waste can produce these modules at lower cost and higher quality of construction. The home construction is not affected by the outside weather, storms etc. and not limited to smaller construction season when labor shortages could increase the cost. Labor cost for year around employed people may also also be lower than seasonal employees who work 8-9 months in a year.

This is an opportunity for this industry to offer a real alternative to conventional homes and complete the home within a week on the site by transporting 4- 5 modules to make a single home and putting it together in a pre-designed way.

An annual event of such factory built homes is taking place this year where green homes will be discussed and we hope that many of the manufacturers would take the challenge and do it in coming years.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Green Homes offer high return on investment

This year in 2008 we see the green sustainable design, finally arousing interest in home builders in northeast USA. Many home builders in western USA have been doing this for some times but our experience in Upstate New York still finds many builders on the side line. Very few have made the decision to seriously consider building green homes in their sub-division. Profit and return on investment is key to any private business. Similarly the cost of operation and maintenance is important to the home owners and builders with green vision can benefit by marketing these features. Who does not want to be free from future cost of energy and live in healthy environment.

Considering the rising energy costs and climate change issue the homes of the future must be designed to maximize the use of free natural resources and consume least amount of energy and water to operate. That is what Green homes are all about.

Many financial incentives offered by Federal and State must be used to make the green homes a great investment for the buyer. Since the upfront cost of some of the green features adds to traditional design cost, the builder should seek grants, tax credits and any local government incentives to reduce the net cost of such features. Assuming the payback of 3 years, the buyer must be made aware that after 3 years all of savings in operational costs are theirs to keep for rest of the life of the home.

Imagine investing in high thermal efficiency, day lighting, LED lights, geothermal heating system etc. and living in a house where your average energy bill is $100 per month and does not change with the price of oil or natural gas?? who would not buy such a home and when it comes time to sell you are in better position when you compete with homes that are old design and paying $300+ for heating costs. That is why we believe that Green Homes offer the best return on investment.

We are fortunate to be working on two small housing projects in Rochester, NY to prove that this is not just a theory but a very real example of sustainability.