Green building to the rescue

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A lot of exhaustive debate is going on around the country about how to start resolving our worsening energy crisis. Well, that's good. In reality, though, this same topic has been discussed in U.S. Congress, college campuses, energy conventions, just about everywhere really, for a couple of decades now and nothing concrete has been done about it. Talk is cheap, meaningful action is what the nation needs.

Help is on the way, although on a small scale at this point. The housing industry has taken some steps in the right direction to make homes more energy-efficient. One of the bright stars in that effort is a California construction firm Livin Homes founded by Steve Glenn.

The first home the company built in Santa Monica has earned a platinum LEED, the coveted Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating used by the U.S. Green Building Council, which makes it thus far the only house to get it. It has about 2,500 sq. ft. of living space and is 80% more energy efficient than a standard property of the same size.

To get that designation the structure was largely built with recycled materials that were manufactured with sustainable methods. Since it actually is a prefab produced at a factory, putting the shell up took only one day and that cut back on construction waste by 75%. Photovoltaic solar cells were installed to provide for most of the house's power needs, a rooftop garden is a smart insulator, all the appliances are high-rated for energy efficiency and a gray-water recycling setup reroutes shower and sink water for outdoor irrigation. These are just some highlights of the various features included in the construction.

As to the cost of this home, it came to $390 per square foot, totaling around $900,000, which is 25% under the normal cost of building in this upper-end area. Not only is the cost less than on a standard house but the annual energy savings can really add up nicely, too.

This type of housing can truly be called win-win, can't it? If we just followed along this type of track, green building would eventually become an accepted mainstream practice and that would also go a long way in solving many of our energy problems.

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Esko Kiuru
Mortgage, real estate and apartment industry analyst - syndicated mortgage, housing and property management blog
My cell: 702-499-1006


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Jack Climer
Jack Climer Realty, LLC - Springfield, MO

I am glad to see that Green is moving in the right direction...


Jul 01, 2008 11:43 PM #1
Randy Prothero
eXp Realty - Mililani, HI
Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645

I am hoping they can find a way to get the costs down on solar.  That is truly the most renewable resource we have.

Jul 02, 2008 02:12 AM #2
Pete Jalbert
The Maui Real Estate Team, Inc. - Paia, HI

That is good news Esko.

Randy-There is a lot of VC money going into cheaper solar and economies of scale will help with manufacturing. The one challenge we will have is the availability and cost of silicon. This is used intensively in solar panels and supply is limited. The cost of the material has gone up in part due to the demand from growing solar industries.

Jul 02, 2008 05:11 PM #3
Esko Kiuru
Bethesda, MD


Green building will one day play a large role in our housing industry, as we sort out our priorities.

Jul 03, 2008 06:35 PM #4
Esko Kiuru
Bethesda, MD


As the solar industry matures, costs should come down.

Jul 03, 2008 06:36 PM #5
Esko Kiuru
Bethesda, MD


Good to see VC money finding its way to the solar sector.

Jul 03, 2008 06:37 PM #6
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