Green Building News

Green Building News August 2007

August 6, 2007

Earth Advantage Realtor Training Program

Capturing the market value of homes with environmentally friendly features has been difficult to accomplish, because so many of these features are hidden from view. Finally, real estate brokers can learn how to recognize and sell the benefits of green homes and achieve continuing education credit at the same time.

Earth Advantage®, a regional leader in green home certification, has broken new ground with the launch of a certification program for real estate professionals. The EA S.T.A.R. (Sustainability Training for Accredited Real Estate Professionals) program has received high marks for being comprehensive and well designed for brokers who want to learn how to communicate with their clients about green home issues in ways that are meaningful and useful.

The certification class has been presented several times at the Earth Advantage headquarters in Portland, Oregon. In August, the program will expand to Central Oregon and be held at the office of the Central Oregon Association of Realtors.

"Earth Advantage has been helping builders implement sustainability into their homes for years. Now with their new S.T.A.R. program, the search for identifying, understanding and presenting green built homes to the consumer will be much easier and streamlined," states Laurie Rubenstein, VP of Sales and Marketing for Legend Homes, who participated in a test class. "This is exactly what the market needs."

"The goal is to equip Realtors with the necessary knowledge and tools to educate their clients on products, features, building methods and values that make homes energy efficient, healthier and green," states Sean Penrith, Executive Director for Earth Advantage. "With the increase in the number of certified green homes on the market, and the public's growing awareness of global warming, rising energy costs and home-related health issues, we wanted to get the message out that there are homes that address these issues. The real estate market was the obvious choice to link green-built homes with consumers."

The curriculum covers green home basics such as energy and water efficiency, indoor air quality and green products and materials, as well as information about the green consumer market, certification programs, and financing, appraising and insuring green homes. The recent decision by Oregon's Regional Multiple Listing Service and the Central Oregon Association of Realtors MLS to include green building features is also covered. The workshop includes a field trip to a green home where participants have an opportunity to see, touch and understand the products and building techniques that would be found in a green-built home. After the two-day workshop, Realtors have 30 days to complete an online test, and upon passing the exam are presented with a certification they can use to distinguish themselves as leaders in the field of green home marketing and sales.

Attendance is eligible for core continuing education credits under the Evaluation of Property category. For more information about the Earth Advantage® S.T.A.R. program or to register for an up-and-coming class, visit


Energy Efficient Homes Continue to Produce Savings

ENERGY STAR® Homes Account for More Than 12 Percent of New Housing Construction in 15 States

In 2006, the percentage of newly constructed single family homes earning the government's ENERGY STAR for superior energy efficiency exceeded 12 percent in 15 states. The 15 leading states are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Utah and Vermont.

Nearly 200,000 new homes nationwide earned the Energy Star in 2006, bringing the total number of Energy Star qualified homes across the nation to almost 750,000. To date, these homes have locked in annual savings of more than $180 million for homeowners by saving over 1 billion kWh of electricity and 100 million therms of natural gas.

Homes that earn the ENERGY STAR offer homeowners all the features they want in a new home, plus energy-efficiency improvements that deliver better performance, greater comfort and lower utility bills, all while helping to protect the environment.

To earn the ENERGY STAR, homes must be independently verified as meeting EPA's strict guidelines for energy efficiency. These homes are least 15 percent more energy efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code, and include additional energy-saving features that typically make them 20 to 30 percent more efficient than standard homes.

Home energy use accounts for nearly 17 percent of the total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and 21 percent of energy consumption nationwide. For more than a decade, EPA has been working with the housing industry, utilities, states and independent energy efficiency home ratings professionals to bring increased energy efficiency to the homebuilding industry. Today, more than 3,500 builders are committed to building ENERGY STAR qualified homes—and there are ENERGY STAR qualified homes in every state across the country.

EPA started the ENERGY STAR program in 1992 as market based approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. In 2006, Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved $14 billion and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 25 million vehicles.


Green Modular Home Showcased at West Coast Green

The West Coast Green green building conference will showcase a “zero-energy” green-built home in San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza, directly across from City Hall. The eco-friendly, prefabricated modular home will be on public display throughout the three-day conference, which is held September 20-22, 2007. Tours of the house are free for West Coast Green Conference & Expo attendees.

Designed by architect Michelle Kaufmann and built by XtremeHomes™, the mkLotus™ will be constructed using sustainable materials and will include features such as its green “living roof”, an integrated solar array, rain and ground water catchment systems for outdoor irrigation and an interior gray water system. Designed to blend seamlessly with the surrounding environment, mkLotus™ incorporates natural textiles and eco-friendly interior furnishings coordinated by Sunset Magazine and Michelle Kaufmann Designs. Operable glass accordion doors by NanaWall surround the living area on three sides to bring the outside in, adding warm natural light and increased ventilation. The mkLotus™ will be constructed using structural insulated panels (SIPs): high-performance, pre-fabricated building panels that are becoming a product of choice in residential green building.

A 100 percent sustainable garden, designed by Nicholas Thayer of Late Afternoon Garden Design, will enhance the setting at Civic Center Plaza. Landscaping design features will include native plants, green roof plants brought down to eye level for use as bio-swale, composting bin and an inviting chaise lounge retreat.

The mkLotus™ is factory-built by XtremeHomes™ to ENERGY STAR®, Build It Green® and LEED® standards of excellence in energy efficiency.


Second Angel Bancorp Announces Green Lending Program

Second Angel Bancorp (SAB), a private money lender, has announced a Green Lending Program. SAB will be providing special incentives to borrowers whose real estate projects meet "smart" and "green" building standards.

Green Lending Practices include projects that use energy efficient, environmentally friendly, renewable, reusable and green processes and materials. "We place a higher priority on loans for projects that support the environment," said Richard Zahm, an SAB principal.

SAB's goal is to encourage developers and investors to start green building projects by offering financial incentives. These incentives include lending more money at a lower cost, underwriting to higher loan to value ratios, lower interest rates and lower origination fees.

Loan incentives take several forms, including:

  • Lower costs of credit, with savings incurred reallocated to pre-established green initiatives within a project
  • Preferential treatment of green projects

Second Angel will provide a 1/8 to 1/4 percent discount on loans to green projects in the commercial and multi-unit residential sectors. "This could mean significant savings over the life of the loan. For example, for a $5 million loan, this could translate to $60,000 to $120,000 of savings over a ten-year period," said Zahm.

SAB will rely on criteria established by the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit group founded in 1993, as well as standards developed in the US, Europe and Asia.

"It makes sense for the environment, and for our investors," said David Gruebele, also an SAB principal. "Technology and price points have intersected. Payback periods for smart buildings are short enough to justify our programs - and the benefits can last for the life of the structure." He adds: "Borrowers who are savvy enough to go green now are, we believe, better risks over the long run. So, we can justify lower rates."

Second Angel Bancorp is a private mortgage bank and direct lender, providing residential and commercial funding. Second Angel Bancorp manages Second Angel Commercial Mortgage Fund l, LLC, a $50 million closed-end mortgage fund that lends money to builders, developers, business and homeowners for short periods of time. The loans are secured with first and second trust deeds on real estate they own. The company is headquartered in Fair Oaks, California.


Department of Energy Provides Nearly $88 Million to Low-Income Families for Home Weatherization

Funding is Second Installment of $200 Million in Total Weatherization Grants for FY 2007

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced $88 million in weatherization grants to 20 states to make energy efficiency improvements in homes of low-income families. Weatherization can reduce an average home’s energy costs by $358 annually, and this year, DOE expects funding to weatherize approximately 70,000 homes nationwide.

For every dollar spent, weatherization returns $1.53 in energy savings over the life of the measures. DOE’s weatherization program performs energy audits to identify the most cost-effective measures for each home, which typically includes adding insulation, reducing air infiltration, servicing heating and cooling systems and providing health and safety diagnostic services. Other benefits include increased housing affordability and property values, lower owner and renter turnover and reduced fire risks. In 2006, DOE helped weatherize approximately 96,500 homes.

On average, Americans spend 5 percent of their income on paying energy bills, but for lower-income households the costs average 16 percent. These costs can include anything from heating and cooling their homes to running the lights, computers and other appliances.

DOE distributes weatherization grants to states three times a year – April, July or September – depending on when a state’s weatherization year begins. Weatherization program grants are distributed by state energy offices through more than 900 local agencies. Every state, the District of Columbia, the Navajo Nation and the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona will receive weatherization grants this year.

$204.5 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 will be used to support weatherization. Of that, $88 million in awards announced now are for the 20 states whose weatherization year begins July 1; $112 million was made available in the spring, to the remaining 30 states whose weatherization programs began in April; and $4.5 million will be used for technical assistance and training in support of the program.

FY’07 Weatherization grants awarded in July are:

Arizona $1,218,350 New Mexico $1,709,958
California $5,624,334 North Carolina $3,717,293
Colorado $4,896,704 North Dakota $2,234,117
Illinois $12,367,330 Pennsylvania $13,132,955
Kentucky $4,039,827 South Dakota $1,716,257
Maryland $2,372,992 Tennessee $3,737,777
Minnesota $8,802,132 Utah $1,859,403
Missouri $5,364,017 Virginia $3,590,631
Nebraska $2,231,477 Wisconsin $7,653,827
Nevada $751,059 Wyoming $1,053,735

Total $88,074,175


Gulf Coast Green 2008 Symposium – Call for Presenters

Conference Theme - Innovations in Building for Hot and Humid Climates

This conference is geared toward attendees with an intermediate to high level of knowledge about building sustainability issues. Presentations relevant to hot/humid climates that focus on high and low tech innovative building systems, recent technologies, cutting-edge research or case studies are sought. To submit proposals, review proposal guidelines and read thorough track descriptions go to and follow the speaker link.

In 2008 a two-day symposium on sustainable building targeted toward design and construction professionals will precede a two-day consumer Expo inaugurating Texas’ first green building consumer expo featuring certified green building products and materials.

Registration for attendees opens in September of 2007. Visit the website to sign up for our newsletter or email for more information on sponsorship or exhibiting your certified product.


Northwest Solar Expo 2007 - Sept. 14 -16

Presented by the Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association (OSEIA), the Northwest Solar Expo will be held at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.

The expo offers workshops, exhibitors and seminars to homeowners and business owners interested in clean energy solutions for their homes and buildings. From utility portfolio options, to energy efficiency, to generating clean energy, solutions are offered for the energy concerns facing us all.


West Coast Green - Sept. 20-22

Bill Graham Auditorium, San Francisco, CA. Visit the website for more information.


Subject: Call for Papers - 2008 Green Roofs Conference

Green Roofs for Healthy Cities is accepting submissions for papers and posters to be presented at the Sixth Annual International Greening Rooftops for Sustainable Communities Conference, Awards and Trade Show April 30, May 1-2 , 2008 in Baltimore, MD.

The Conference will raise awareness of the many benefits of green roofs, share new research findings, provide information on the latest designs, implementation techniques and products and broaden networks while working towards building more sustainable cities through green roof implementation. Abstract submissions are due by September 30th, 2007.

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