What does green real estate really mean and why would a real estate investor want to do that?
Green real estate 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 however a standard and a rating system that has been created by the NAHB (National Association of Home Builders).
In 2007, the NAHB and ICC (International Code Council) partnered to establish a nationally-recognizable standard and definition of “Green” building. This was the first and only rating system for residential property that has the consensus and approval from the ANSI (American National Standards Institute).
2012 saw the introduction of the “2012 National Green Building Standard.” NAHB Chairman Barry Rutenberg said, “…the updated version raises the bar on energy efficiency requirements, but it also completely revolutionizes how renovations and remodeling projects are treated under the standard. The 2012 updates make the standard easier to understand and implement, and we expect that this will certainly help to build upon the momentum we are already seeing in green building across the residential building industry.”
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 going off the grid like Ed Begley Jr.. Begley is building a new home that will be self-sufficient, powered by solar energy and off the grid. 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 12,500 gallons. If you’re savvy you can find toilets that will offer energy rebates and get the toilets very inexpensively. Another up and coming idea is the use of residential urinals.
Kitchens: Water in a bathroom is the number one thing to conserve. In the kitchen it is electricity. The kitchen is the most energy intensive room in the house. Much of this has to do with appliances which I don’t have time to address here except to look for an Energy Star Product. 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 repurposed or recycled items. A big thing I see in a lot of probate homes are hardwood floors under the 1960’s carpet. The hard wood 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 – www.nahb.org – Look under Green Building
Another good site for information is www.greenhomeguide.com
There are a lot of good reasons for going “Green.”