Going green increases efficiency
If you’re thinking that living green is a concept that just hatched in the last decade, think again. Thomas Edison, the father of just about our entire way of modern life, had a serious leg up on conserving energy and using renewable energies. Despite of the fact that he may be largely responsible for our current level of energy consumption, in the early 1900s Edison was already considering alternatives to fossil fuels, which he recognized wouldn’t last forever.
High-performance, sustainable and green are terms used for residential and commercial construction that are designed and built in an ecological and efficient manner. These types of buildings are typically 30 to 50 percent more energy efficient than conventional constructions. But what about our existing homes? Is it really energy efficient to tear them down and replace them with ones that are more efficient?
The United States has more than 100 million existing homes. The ones built before 1939 are the least efficient, using about 50 percent more energy per square foot than those built after 2000. Replacing them would be incredibly wasteful and unrealistic, so why not bring them up to today’s standards?
The primary reason for the lack of efficiency in older homes is tiny cracks and gaps that expand over time and let in more outside air. Properly installed heating and air conditioning systems free of leaks and energy efficient appliances can easily convert the efficiency of older homes practically overnight.
Plumbing and irrigation systems can be upgraded to reduce the amount of fresh water consumed, and construction materials and interior finishes can be utilized that have zero or low off gassing materials. Just by plugging those cracks and adding insulation you can increase the efficiency of your home by 20 percent.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation is applying green technology to make the historic properties it oversees more energy efficient. The gothic revival mansion in Washington that was used as President Lincoln’s summer getaway has recently undergone a renovation that earned it a gold rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Cities are also being rated based on how green they are. Popular Science ranked the 50 greenest cities in America based on their use of renewable sources of energy, percentage of public transportation available, accessibility of parks and green spaces and recycling measures. The top five greenest cities out of the 50 were Portland, San Francisco, Boston, Oakland and Eugene. It should be noted that no Florida cities made the list.
As far as real estate values go, chances are that green homes will likely appreciate in value faster and be easier to sell in the future. In addition, don’t be surprised to see mortgage financing options favoring green homes with more favorable terms and rates.
Your home doesn’t need to aspire to gold ratings, but if your first investment in going green is a caulking gun you’re on your way. Toward the end of Thomas Edison’s life he said, “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power.” We sure have plenty of sun. Now all we need is a little inspiration.