Green Building News

Green Building News September 2009

September 1, 2009

Are More Walkable Homes Worth More?

A new study from CEOs for Cities, “Walking the Walk: How Walkability Raises Housing Values in U.S. Cities” by Joseph Cortright, finds that homes in more walkable neighborhoods are worth more than similar homes in less-walkable areas.

In the study, walkability is defined by the Walk Score algorithm, which works by calculating the proximity of jobs, goods, services and opportunities for social interaction to any address in the U.S. Walkability is determined by how many amenities are located within between one-quarter mile and one mile of a home. The algorithm then assigns a “Walk Score” from 0-100, with 100 being the most walkable and 0 being car-dependent. Higher Walk Scores (70+) indicate neighborhoods where it’s possible to get by without a car.

In a typical metropolitan area, a one-point increase in Walk Score was associated with an increase in value ranging from $700 to $3,000 depending on the market. Gains were larger in denser, urban areas. The study included 15 metropolitan areas, finding a statistically significant positive relationship between walkability and home values in 13 of those areas.

"Walking the Walk’ shows definitively what we’ve always believed – that homes in walkable neighborhoods continue to be a good investment, and are one of the simplest and most effective solutions to fight climate change, improve our health, and strengthen our communities,” said Walk Score founder Mike Mathieu. "Our vision is for every property listing to include a Walk Score: Beds: 3 Baths: 2 Walk Score: 84."

Download the complete study.


Proposed Biobased Product Consumer Label Rule

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is making it easier for consumers to identify biobased products through the release of its proposed BioPreferredSM labeling rule. USDA's BioPreferred labeling program, recently published in the Federal Register, intends to create a product label that would appear on qualifying BioPreferred biobased products. When final, this regulation will allow biobased product manufacturers to participate in a voluntary labeling program to identify biobased products on retail store shelves.

Manufacturers will be able to utilize the BioPreferred label, when finalized, to help customers identify their products as biobased. Currently, USDA has identified more than 15,000 commercially available biobased products across approximately 200 categories, from cleaning products to construction materials. A complete list and detailed description BioPreferred construction products may be viewed at

Biobased products are available to consumers today and the new label will help make these sustainable products more accessible and serve as a valuable marketing tool for manufacturers and vendors of biobased products. Biobased products are products that are composed wholly or significantly of biological ingredients - renewable plant, animal, marine or forestry materials. A BioPreferred designated item is one that meets or exceeds USDA-established minimum biobased content requirements.

This Federal Register notice announces the program's intent to create and make available a voluntary product label for increased commercial and consumer promotion of biobased products. USDA, through the publication of this draft rule, seeks to notify and gather feedback from interested groups and the public-at-large on this process.

BioPreferred is comprised of two programs: a preferred procurement program for Federal agencies and a voluntary labeling program for the broad scale marketing of biobased products. BioPreferred encourages interested parties to submit comments on the proposed rule until Sept. 29, 2009.


GREEN Library Utilizes Quality Automation Graphics’ Energy Dashboard

Quality Automation Graphics, a computer graphic developer specializing in building automation graphic design, announces the successful completion of an Energy Efficiency Education Dashboard (EEED) for the new Finksburg Branch of the Carroll County Public Library in Maryland.

An EEED is a graphical user interface (GUI) that displays a building’s resource use in real-time by “talking” to a building’s automation system. Using a solution like this provides details on the building’s energy efficiencies in a fast and easy to understand format. QA Graphics worked with Johnson Controls, a global leader in building efficiency and power solutions, to integrate the EEED with the library’s control system.

The Finksburg Branch opened earlier this year and is one of the first green buildings in Carroll County. The library is using the EEED to educate staff and patrons on the new building’s energy efficiencies, carbon footprint and green initiatives. The information is presented in an easy to understand format, similar to a Web site, on an interactive touchscreen to show users the library’s energy consumption in real-time. Users can also check the weather and learn more about the library’s various green features, including a geothermal heat pump, storm water management, solar hot water and recyclable materials.

Scott Reinhart, assistant director of Carroll County Public Library, said working with QA Graphics was a real pleasure. “We’re delighted with the product both technically and artistically. It’s so gratifying to see kids interacting with the dashboard and learning how we are helping our environment,” said Reinhart.

Displaying a building’s energy efficiencies or sustainability practices is a trend seen more and more in the green building industry. Using an Energy Efficiency Education Dashboard can help earn an Innovation in Design LEED certification credit from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

RMI2009 From Ideas to Solutions, Reinventing Fire - Oct. 1-3

San Francisco—Rocky Mountain Institute® convenes a symposium that explores effective opportunities in achieving economic growth for an era free of fossil fuels. Lively debate, plenary sessions, and workshops with top leaders of business, energy, and security.

More information.


grn con park city - Oct. 2-3

Inaugural regional sustainable building conference in Park City, Utah. Build knowledge to enhance green building deliverables, attend education tracks. Meet local contacts, find tools and get ideas that are good for both the environment and your company’s bottom line. Held in Park City, Utah at the eco friendly Newpark Resort hotel.

More information.

Solar Power International 2009 - Oct. 27-29

The Solar Electric Power Association and Solar Energy Industries Association business to business solar event with 800+ exhibitors and more than 25,000+ attendees in Anaheim, California. Keynote addresses, 200+ speakers, more than 65 breakout sessions and dozens of optional workshops, expand your business opportunities and networking with the foremost members of the solar industry.

More information.


Energy Retrofits for Houses Conference - Oct. 28-29

The Energy Retrofits for Houses conference takes place in Toronto and will be the first of its kind in Canada. Modeled after the Affordable Comfort conferences in the US, the conference will be of interest to insulators, renovators, building inspectors, auditors, building scientists, municipal and provincial officials and utilities. There will also be a one-day expo of technologies, products and services.

More information.

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