Green Building News

Green Building News March 2007

March 14, 2007

Regional Multiple Listing Service Launches New Measure to Connect Realtors and Buyers Looking for ‘Green’ Homes

Home Performance Measure Recognizes Certified Homes as Earth Advantage®, ENERGY STAR®, and LEED® for Homes

As rising energy costs and global warming concerns impel more consumers to make money-saving and green choices, home buyers in Oregon and Southwest Washington can now shop specifically for energy efficient, sustainable homes. This new drop-down feature adopted from Oregon’s Regional Multiple Listing Service (RMLS™) titled “Home Performance” will enable realtors to search for and find homes certified as Earth Advantage, ENERGY STAR or LEED for Homes in the local market.

“This is a wonderful step in the right direction," states Duane Woik, green building consultant for Earth Advantage. “Oregonian’s care about the environment and are very educated on energy conservation. But the missing piece has always been how to find the right home that matches those lifestyles. With the new measure being implemented by the RMLS, home seekers can now find exactly what they’re looking for.”

Launched on February 28th, the RMLS has expanded its database to include information on energy efficient and green home measures made searchable, making this region one of the few in the nation where this service is available. The drop-down feature will allow realtors to find performance tested and certified homes within the Portland and SW Washington market. In addition, specific features and products can be found by selecting energy efficient or sustainable products such as a high efficiency 90-percent+ gas furnace or high efficiency heat pump, solar electric or water heating systems and modifications such as sustainable materials, water filters, rain collectors and solar tubes or skylights.

Given the rising popularity and significant benefits of energy efficient and green home features, these new RMLS capabilities will formalize the additional value these features bring to a home. In particular, potential buyers will be able to easily identify homes that
incorporate a comprehensive suite of energy efficient and green features that are third-party certified to save energy, money and natural resources.

“Green and energy efficient features have emerged as some of the most important and sought-after by buyers in our RMLS service area,” said RMLS CEO Beth Murphy. “With the help of their realtor, homebuyers can now pinpoint homes with these features.”

This decision from the RMLS Board of Directors came in response to a proposal spearheaded through the cooperative effort of Earth Advantage, Inc., ENERGY STAR and local Green Realtor, Kria Lacher.


Remodel Green and Curb Your Energy Costs

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) offers alternative energy guidance.

Energy prices continue to climb, but the good news is that the cost barrier to using green energy is dropping. People are seeking out alternative energy sources that are abundant, environmentally sound and cost effective. Technology continues to evolve that helps us channel energy from the sun. The sun’s energy can provide space heating, hot water heating and electricity for lights and appliances.
The U.S. is dependent on fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas for its energy, and is highly reliant on foreign oil imports. Fossil fuels are of finite supply, meaning their supplies will ultimately diminish to the point of becoming too expensive or too environmentally damaging to salvage. Renewable energy resources, however, such as solar energy, are inexhaustible.
Solar Retrofitting
Solar retrofits are solar energy applications made for an existing home. Since solar energy is an endless, environmentally friendly energy source, using it lowers utility bills. When retrofitting, the first stage of the project is to make a record as to how energy is currently used in the home so that the right product may be chosen. Next, determine how much sun is available. The amount of solar energy available to a home is largely dependent on the time of year and your home’s location. For example, homes in the northern hemisphere need a southeast to southwest orientation to maximize solar energy. You will also want to assess sun availability by looking at what obstructions there are on the south side of the home, such as trees or taller buildings. Solar energy retrofit options may include active and passive solar, photovoltaics, wind and geothermal.
(Oikos Bookstore related title: Natural Remodeling)
Passive Solar Heating

Passive solar is the most cost effective approach to maximizing the use of solar energy for your home. Passive solar heating of homes is simple: it occurs when sunlight passes through a window, and no additional equipment is used to harness the energy. Passive solar applications use building elements such as walls, windows, floor and roof in addition to exterior building elements. Landscaping can control overheating by providing shade and provide windbreaks for winter winds. Once heat is collected inside, a well-insulated airtight “building envelope” helps prevent heat loss and allows the sun to provide more of the heat needed by the house.

Active Solar Systems
Active solar systems use solar collectors and a pump or a fan to distribute the sun's energy. Active systems are often used for heating water. The collector is a dark color to absorb the sun's energy and converts it into heat. Some collectors have a glass cover, collecting solar energy all year. Domestic hot water requirements can be met in part by active solar systems. In most cases solar energy will only provide some partial water requirements during the winter, but most of the summer season requirements. In most applications the solar system is used to preheat water going into a conventional water heater. Outdoor swimming pools can be entirely heated by solar systems, eliminating the need for a supplemental heater.
(Oikos Bookstore related title: Solar Water Heating)
Photovoltaics (Solar Electricity)

Sunlight converted directly to electricity through solar cells is called photovoltaic (PV) energy. Solar cells come in an assortment of sizes and will produce electricity as long as sunlight shines on them. Solar cells used for electrical generation are really just a more sophisticated version of the solar cells used in calculators and other small household electronic devices. PV cells generate direct current (DC), meaning that to use PV-generated electricity directly, DC appliances and lights must be used. These are most often used in recreational vehicles. In order to use standard household appliances the power must be converted to alternating current (AC), which is the form supplied by utility companies. So a solar electric system must be designed to convert the power to AC.
(Oikos Bookstore related title: Photovoltaics Design and Installation Manual)
Geothermal Energy

Geothermal or ground source heat pumps, take stored solar energy from the soil and bodies of water. They rely on electricity, but provide the equivalent of three times KW heat for every kilowatt delivered. Heat pumps are reversible, supplying cooling and heating, so they can be useful in areas with significant cooling loads.
(Oikos Bookstore related title: Green Remodeling)
Think about Conservation
While you’re deciding what the best options are in solar energy for your home, think about conservation as well. Draft-proof your home and upgrade insulation for optimum energy conservation. A remodeling project is a prime opportunity to undertake upgrades like wall and ceiling insulation, air sealing and installing new energy-efficient windows. New windows should be high performance windows with low-e glass, gas fill and insulating spacers. You can maximize cooling with roof overhangs that block direct sunlight.
(Oikos Bookstore related title: The Homeowner's Guide to Renewable Energy)


EnergyValue Housing Award Honors Builders

Winners of Industry's Top Award for Energy-Efficient Home Building Combine Integrated Design Approaches with Cutting-Edge Technology

Recognizing builders who have voluntarily integrated energy efficiency into the design, construction, and marketing of their new homes, the NAHB Research Center recently announced the winners of its annual EnergyValue Housing Award (EVHA) at a banquet in conjunction with the 2007 International Builders' Show (IBS). Ten winners were honored for successfully showcasing integrated design approaches, environmentally-friendly practices and advanced building techniques that have put them at the forefront of energy-efficient construction.

Now in its 12th year, the EVHA program not only recognizes energy-efficient practices, but also serves to educate the home building industry and the public about advanced technologies and successful approaches to energy-efficient construction that can now be implemented by mainstream builders. EVHA winners select framing methods, insulation and appliances that result in high efficiencies, paying careful attention to air sealing, ductwork and ventilation. Advanced practices among the 2007 EVHA winners' homes included high R-value insulation in ceilings and walls, photovoltaic (PV) solar power systems, innovative air sealing and duct practices, fluorescent lighting and solar hot water heating systems.

The EVHA targets home builders in affordable, custom, factory-built, production and multifamily markets for hot, moderate and cold climate regions. The 2007 EnergyValue Housing Award winners are:


  • Veridian Homes - Builder of the Year
  • Aspen Homes of Colorado, Inc.
  • Ferrier Builders, Inc.
  • Grupe Homes
  • LivingHomes
  • Yavapai College*
    *winner in two categories


  • Bob Ward Companies
  • Fireside Home Construction
  • Holton Homes, Inc.
  • LivingHomes

Honorable Mention

  • Gary W. Dorris, Inc./Dorris Construction

The 2007 EVHA for Builder of the Year was presented to Veridian Homes, of Madison, Wis. EVHA judges noted the company's long history with the ENERGY STAR® program, impressive mix of innovative techniques and use of energy-efficient mortgages for more than 50 percent of its homes. Veridian has demonstrated its commitment to customer satisfaction by adopting exceptional standards of energy-efficient and environmentally-responsible construction and has received several other industry honors for environmentally-conscious business practices and quality home building techniques. The company devotes time and resources to land development, habitat restoration and water conservation because it believes in "building with the environment, not against it."

EVHA judging was completed by a panel of energy-efficiency experts in the fields of engineering, residential energy, construction, design and marketing. Winners were selected based on their homes' energy value; design; construction methods and processes; marketing and customer relations efforts; and their ability to demonstrate an understanding of a whole-house, systems design approach. Added in 2006, the popular "People's Choice" award was given to Fireside Home Construction of Dexter, Mich.


Eco Wave 2007 - Deadline for proposals: April 6, 2007

Faculty, students, and professionals are invited to submit proposals for papers and poster exhibits for the Fourth International Conference on the Next Generation of Green Architecture in Berkeley, California, Thursday-Friday-Saturday, June 7-8-9, 2007.

Green building is sweeping the world – the biggest change in design and building in history. Buildings and their related enterprises produce more CO2, generate more pollution, consume more energy and waste more natural resources than any other human enterprise or industry.

We already know how to slash the consumption, waste and pollutants by huge amounts and at very low cost. Day by day we're learning more as the design professions take on the most radical reforms in the history of architecture and construction.

Pioneering new designs and advanced construction techniques are accumulating at an incredible rate. The ECO WAVE 2007 conference brings it all together. Topics include every aspect of green building, sustainable planning, alternative materials and energy systems; bioremediation, eco villages, eco design methods and education; indigenous, organic and nature-based architecture and more.

Topics related to visionary, innovative and "next-generation"aspects of eco design are especially welcome.

You're invited to submit a participant proposal.

Each proposal should be a brief abstract, no more than one page. Send as an E-mail text, NOT as an attachment. Include complete contact information. Detailed resumes are not required at this time. Proposals may be for seminar presentations (30-minutes duration), poster or other exhibit displays, or special-format presentations. Accepted presenters will receive a substantial discount on Conference enrollment fees.

As they have for the past four annual Eco Wave conferences, attendees and speakers will include world-renowned experts on all aspects of green building and ecological design. As before, representatives from major universities and government agencies engaged in ecological design education and research will also be attending. Editors of eco design-related journals and book publishers will be in attendance, along with representatives of national eco design-related organizations.

Send proposals to the Eco Wave 2007 Conference Committee by E-mail, fax or letter. Deadline for proposals: April 6, 2007. Reply notices will be sent within two weeks of proposal. Final confirmed acceptance notifications will be sent by April 2, 2007.

(Send one page of plain E-mail text; do NOT send attachments or pdf at this time.)
Fax: 510-848-5400
Mail: Conference Committee, 2625 Benvenue Ave., Berkeley, CA 94704

Sponsored by The Berkeley Institute of Ecological Design and The San Francisco Institute of Architecture, headquartered in Berkeley, California.


AIA 2007 National Convention and Design Exposition - May 3-5

The AIA 2007 National Convention and Design Exposition is the premier event for architects and building industry professionals. Held in San Antonio May 3-5, there will be over 250 continuing education programs, 60 tours, 40 events and 800 leading-edge companies exhibiting their products and services.

Who Should Attend?
Everyone connected to the building and design community will benefit from attending the AIA 2007 National Convention and Expo. Whether you’re an architect, designer, interior designer, landscape architect, engineer, developer, builder, architectural educator, product manufacturer, or client, this convention brings together all members of the design profession and construction industry.

Exceptional Opportunities to Earn Continuing Education Credit
Need continuing education learning units (LUs)? In San Antonio, you'll find the AIA's highest quality and most economical continuing education workshop and seminar offerings. These programs underwent rigorous peer review to ensure timely, relevant and valuable education from national experts.


Ecobuild America/AEC–ST - May 15-17

Ecobuild America and AEC-ST is a unique blend of solutions in two events for design and construction professionals. This event takes place at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. Exhibit of eco-friendly construction products and services accompanied by a 3-day conference program covering: Sustainable Design, Information Technology, BIM & Interoperability, Building Performance, Facilities Management & Operations, Green Construction & Homebuilding, Infrastructure, Civil, Site/Land Development Specifications, Codes & Contract Documents, International Markets & Business Project Management & Delivery, Government - Federal, State, & Municipal.


CFL Purchase Tracker was recently launched as an interactive tool to track purchases of CFLs nationwide and empower us all to make a positive impact on our energy use. See how your city and state rank in the fight against global warming.

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