I was watching the dedication of the Bush Library, located on the campus of SMU, when former President Clinton made a comment that the Bush Library was the first presidential library to open with platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. I thought that was very cool for a Republican/Texan president, so I wanted to learn a little more about being “green” and how we could participate.
Green generally refers to a structure and the building of that structure using a process that is environmentally responsible and resource-efficient. This is for the structure’s life cycle, from design, construction and operation to maintenance. The common objective of building Green is to reduce the overall impact on the environment. This is done by:
- Efficiently using energy
- Efficiently using water
- Protecting the health of the occupants with safe materials
- Reducing waste and pollution
This is a broad picture of “Green” as it relates to building or rehabbing. There is a standard and a rating system that has been created by the NAHB (National Association of Home Builders).
A rating system was created and has four thresholds for residential housing – Bronze, Silver, Gold and Emerald. Emerald is the highest rating a building can achieve; this rating must incorporate energy savings of 60% or more.
If you are planning on rehabbing a fix and flip property and want to do it “Green,” there are some great advantages:
- Tax advantages
- Being on the cutting edge
When I think of a “Green” home I think about energy and going off the grid like Ed Begley Jr.. Begley’s home in the LA area is self-sufficient and powered completely by solar energy. But there are a lot of ways we can make a home “Green” without going to that extent. Here are a few ideas:
Bathrooms: One of the biggest environmental changes that can be made is to install a Low-Flow Toilet. Non-water conserving toilets consume 20.1 gallons of water per person, per day on average. That makes up almost 30% of an average home’s daily per-person indoor use. By simply changing to a Low-Flow toilet (1.6 gpf – gallons per flush) the homeowner can reduce water usage from 27,500 gallons to 12,500gallons. If you’re savvy you can find toilets that will offer energy rebates and get the toilets for very inexpensive. Another up and coming idea is the use of residential urinals.
Kitchens: Water in a bathroom is the number one thing to conserve, then electricity being number one in the kitchen. The kitchen is the most energy intensive room in the house. Much of this has to do with appliance which I don’t have time to address here except to look for an Energy Star Product, but the other big culprits are lighting and ventilation. Here are few things you can do to:
- Install operable windows and skylights – for natural light
- A ceiling fan will help with ventilation, is quieter and uses less energy than an exhaust fan.
- Locate work surfaces near windows or skylights
- Install fluorescent lights. They are 4 to 5 times more efficient that incandescent.
Also consider repurposing or recycled items. A big thing I see in a lot of probate homes are hardwood floors under the 1960’s carpet. The hardwood is very trendy and if the floors are in good shape it’s less expensive than new carpet.
There are several tools and websites you can explore to help you with your “Green” project. NAHB has a lot of great information www.nahbgreen.org. Another good site for information is www.greenhomeguide.com.
There are a lot of good reasons for going “Green.” Please join me for a Professional Real Estate Investor Class.