Green Building News

Green Building News July 2009

July 1, 2009

New Report Shows Green Homes Sell for More

Earth Advantage Institute, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, recently released a report documenting superior market performance of third-party certified homes over non-certified homes. The findings are based on an analysis that directly compares homes that were certified with appraiser-approved comparable homes. Home certifications included Earth Advantage®, ENERGY STAR®, Built Green®, and LEED® for Homes.

Certified homes in the four-county Seattle metropolitan area sold for 9.7 percent more than non-certified homes. In the five-county Portland area, homes achieved a price premium of 3 to 5 percent more. Homes with an Earth Advantage or comparable certification also sold more quickly in the Portland metro area by about 18 days.

"This investigative research demonstrates the clear value of certified homes to homeowners and professionals in the home construction and sales industry," said Sean Penrith, executive director of Earth Advantage Institute. "The results of this study will help us in our certification outreach efforts by supplying our constituents with specific data on the value of sustainable home standards."

The report, Certified Home Performance: Assessing the Market Impacts of Third-Party Certification on Residential Properties, also features home builder interviews and consumer surveys.

Certified Homes Sample
The comparable property analysis was based on a sample of 92 certified homes in Portland and 68 certified homes in Seattle. For each certified home, two to seven comparable homes were identified. Taylor Watkins of Watkins & Associates was the project appraiser. The comparable home methodology allowed researchers to identify sustainable certification as the primary factor impacting market performance.

The majority of the homes in the Oregon sample (90 percent) were built between 2005 and 2008, and sold for an average of $474,000. All of the homes in the Washington sample were built in 2007 or 2008, and sold for an average of $523,000.

Green Building Leaders' Efforts
This investigative study is part of a larger regional effort conducted by nonprofit and local government organizations. These efforts have involved some of the leading green building organizations in the Pacific Northwest, including Built Green Washington, Cascadia Region Green Building Council, Earth Advantage Institute, Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, Master Builders Association of Pierce County, the Northwest Eco-Building Guild, Olympia Master Builders and Washington State Department of Ecology.

In the coming weeks, the report will be followed by the release of related research reports, including a commercial case study report to be published by Cascadia Region Green Building Council and a residential case study report to be published by the Northwest Eco-Building Guild. The commercial case study report is available on the Cascadia Regional Green Building Web site and the residential report will be available on the Built Green Washington site.


ASHRAE Introduces Prototype of Building Energy Label

Most of us know the fuel efficiency of our cars, but what about our buildings? ASHRAE is working to change that, moving one step closer today to introducing its building energy labeling program with release of a prototype label at its 2009 Annual Conference in Louisville, Ky.

Image source: ASHRAE
(used with permission)
Click to enlarge

A prototype label for the ASHRAE Headquarters in Atlanta was unveiled. The Building Energy Quotient program, which will be known as Building EQ, will include both asset and operational ratings for all building types, except residential. ASHRAE is working with major real estate developers to implement the label prototype this fall with a widespread launch of the full program in 2010.

“As the United States looks to reduce its energy use, information is the critical first step in making the necessary choices and changes,” Bill Harrison, ASHRAE president, said. “With labeling mandatory in Europe and disclosure of a building’s energy performance becoming required by several states, now is the time to introduce a label that can serve as a model for mandatory programs.”

The ASHRAE labeling program differs from existing labeling programs in that it focuses solely on energy use. Under the ASHRAE program, new buildings will be eligible to receive an asset rating. An operation rating will be available once the building has at least one year of data on the actual energy use of buildings. Existing buildings would be eligible to receive both an asset and operational rating.

The asset rating provides an assessment of the building based on the components specified in the design and would be based on the results of a building energy model. The operational rating provides information on the actual energy use and is based on a combination of the structure of the building and how it is operated.


Eco Homes That Turn Rubbish Into Energy

100 green apartments to be built in Luton, UK by the end of 2010 as part of environmentally sustainable project

The apartments will use solar collectors and wind turbines, and would turn waste materials into energy to reduce heating bills. It is all part of Milieu Architects ambitious plans for Luton's first environmentally responsible development.

Peter Lunter, The Project Architect, said: "The project has been designed to achieve nearly all Zero Energy Development standards, and hence the block has minimum space heating requirements. The scheme employs a wide range of sustainable features that contribute to its code 5 for Sustainable Homes rating where the grade 6 is the zero carbon level. However, the project has a pre-designed upgrade path to full Zero Energy status."

The plan involves developing the derelict, recently crime-ridden site on the northern side of Collingdon Street in Luton, and could spark an "urban renaissance", according to businessman Jan Telensky whose company has proposed building the apartments.

The scheme, formally known as "Low Energy Apartments (LEA) project", is already receiving the support and co-operation of Luton Borough Council as it has been submitted to approach the planning stages, and Milieu Architects, which is made up of former University of Luton students, is confident that it will become a reality by the end of 2010.

The idea of the innovative project is that it will provide environmentally sound housing and social facilities at an affordable cost and make a considerable contribution towards environmental sustainability, while enhancing the sense of community by regenerating the site into an attractive residential area.

The building would be topped with visually attractive green roofs whose structural function is designed to protect the waterproofing layer from extreme temperature and abrasion, produce oxygen and reduce carbon dioxide production.

Other key sustainable features include construction from thermal materials that store heat during warm months and release it during the colder months.

Core facts - Key sustainable features:

The building is constructed from thermally massive materials that store heat during warm months and release it during the colder months. Further enhancement is achieved through a high performance thermal insulation, good weather-tightness and integration of winter gardens (sun rooms).

  • Combined heat and power plant that uses waste wood that would otherwise go to landfill.
  • Wind turbines—harvesting the wind to power low energy electrical appliances and low energy lighting.
  • Roof is covered in water-powered solar collectors that are assisting with space and water heating.
  • Green Roofs—visually attractive green roofs protect the waterproofing layer from extreme temperatures and abrasion. They provide natural habitat, reduce CO2 and produce oxygen.
  • South façade features sun rooms that are heated by the sun.

Does The Green Lifestyle Include Hot Tubs?

When complete, the Green Leaf will be the first of its kind in the Midwest: a bed and breakfast inn built “green” from the ground up. And when it opens in Summer 2010, it will make Walworth County in Wisconsin a major point of interest for the burgeoning eco-tourist movement.

That is the goal of Catherine McQueen and Fritz Kreiss, the owners of the Green Leaf. The couple has been in the energy industry for more than 17 years, and has been involved with the green energy movement from the start of their professional partnership, but the hospitality industry is a whole new field for them. With the Green Leaf, they’ve jumped in feet first.

Their goal is to meet the highest standards for green building in all aspects of the Inn’s design and construction. The list of technologies and practices involved has proven to be daunting. “We had a background in green energy: solar, wind, geothermal, biomass,” says McQueen. “One of our early business ventures involved combined heat and power (CHP) units. But sustainable building, sustainable landscaping, water use, renewable materials, low-impact practices…we’ve put together quite a list of things to consider.” With no previous experience in the hospitality industry, they’ve also had to learn about aspects of zoning and permitting that were new to them.

“We want the Green Leaf Inn to be a learning center,” says Kreiss. “I think we can say it has already succeeded in that respect.”

The couple have created a Web site to document the inn building process. The companion site,, will begin taking reservations once the Inn is closer to completion.

The completed Inn will feature 19 suites in two buildings. As part of the design process, Kreiss and McQueen will convert their current residence into a three-suite lodge and breakfast area. The two inn buildings will be connected by another structure, which will act as a welcome and conference center. Their aim is to provide an experience to guests which is both immersive in the green lifestyle and yet still luxurious. “People have an image that living green necessarily means doing without,” says McQueen. “Actually, it means making careful, informed decisions. You can have your Jacuzzi; at the Inn, it will be powered by a solar panel or a small wind turbine, heated by a solar thermal system or biomass boiler and the gray water will be recaptured and reused when you’re done.”

Guests will be encouraged to use their stay as a chance to explore green and sustainable technologies. “Our goal is to include as many technologies as we can feasibly fit, and incorporate them in ways that make it easy for guests to explore what’s going on behind the scenes,” says Kreiss. “On the other hand, if they just want to enjoy their hot tub and their bamboo sheets, that’s also fine. We want to encourage, not preach.”

“Green” tourism has been slow to start in America, which has lagged behind other countries in adopting a more environmentally conscious lifestyle, but the movement is growling, and “green” bed and breakfasts are beginning to appear across the country. “What’s going to be different about the Green Leaf is that we’re not doing a green retrofit,” says McQueen. “We’re doing this from the ground up. We’re going to consider every aspect of the design and every aspect of the process. You will literally be living green wherever you go on the grounds, from the paving in the driveway to the bioswales at the end of the property.”

The couple hopes the Green Leaf will be the first step in a movement to make Walworth County a prime location for new green businesses in the area. “The time is right,” says Kreiss. “The incentives are there. The industries are ready to gear up. Green is going to be a major part of this country’s economic future. They could be a huge benefit to Walworth County; help this area maintain its quality of life without sacrificing its character. There’s going to be a green center to this area: why not Walworth?”


Waste to Energy Finance & Investment Summit - July 23-24

Join leading waste to energy developers, technology providers, investors, lenders, utilities, representatives from the federal and municipal governments and other industry players in Del Mar, California.

More Information


SolWest Renewable Energy Fair - July 24-26

Held in John Day, Oregon, this educational event features 53 workshops, 33 exhibitors, four pre-SolWest in-depth workshops; as well as many ways to observe and get hands-on experience with renewable energy and sustainable living technologies. View the full SolWest Renewable Energy Fair program.


SEBC Green Building Show - July 30-Aug. 1

The Southeast Building Conference and Building Show will be held in Orlando at the Orange County Convention Center featuring seminars, an exposition of suppliers and networking opportunities.

The event offers 13 intensive courses leading to such business-building designations as Certified Green Professional (CGP), Certified-Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS), Certified Graduate Builder (CGB), and Certified Graduate Remodeler (CGR), among others.

Complete details of all the courses, and registration are available online

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