Green is the New Gold

Last fall the city council of Austin passed a mandatory energy audit on houses 10 years and older. The mandatory audit is to disclose the energy efficiency of the property. The effective date is July 2009 and the expense will be approximately $100 for the audit. This is the first of what we are told will be the norm of every city and community in the very near future.

Many homes are being designed from the ground up so as to be a LEEDS certified energy efficient home. Platinum being at the top of the list, then Gold, Silver and then Certified. Inspectors are already taking a special course called Green Verifier for the work that lies ahead on the inspection side.

What can we do right now to help each real estate office and residential property to be more energy efficient? The following are some helpful suggestions to institute today, not next week or next month but today. So, let's get started with the list:

  • Install wall mounted efficiency toggles.
  • Don't use a remote control for the TV - the remote truly means the TV is on all the time drawing power and is ready to go when you switch the "screen" or "monitor" on. Instead, turn the TV on or off from the TV.
  • Use the new battery backup power units that actually turn off when not needed instead of the typical battery backup units. When the light is showing on your battery charger it means you are drawing electricity 24/7 and are paying for it. This one change over to the new energy efficient battery backups for our computers and electronics would save $12 billion in energy bills if everyone in the US did this one energy change over. Tripp-Lite and Energy Star are examples.
  • Set back your thermostats during the day when you are away or get a timer to do the daily task for you.
  • Use diode type bulbs in lights. They last about 10 times regular lamps and use 25% less energy.
  • Use motion sensor light switches.
  • Purchase child proof covers for electrical outlets to capture the heat within the house during winter and to allow for air conditioning to remain in the home during the summer rather than have the air flow in and out through these escape routes.
  • When replacing appliances look for the Energy Star trademark and choose a more energy efficient appliance or fixture.

These are pretty simple tricks that will save lots of energy without much expense or effort on the homeowners' part.

Solar captive sources are becoming popular again only now they are certainly more efficient. In the 1970's a solar unit would capture and turn about 15% of light spectrum into energy and today with the new units approximately 42% is captured from the solar source.

Green third party certification which is "the here and now" can be done by a LEED's certifier, Energy Star Qualified person, NAHB Green Verifier, and now in Austin, a certified BPI or Building Performance Systems Inspector.

What does this mean to the real estate specialist? It means agents need to understand that green building is growing rapidly. It means current community building codes have to raise their bar to satisfy different certification entities. It means appraisers are going to have to begin collecting comparable property sales for green home comparisons and functional obsolescence will include energy efficiency issues. It means federal loans are already present for bringing loans to the table to enhance energy savings for older properties.

A green built home from the ground up will cost more initially but the energy savings over time should dramatically surpass the initial expenses. The take away thought: green means more value enhanced additions which ultimately means more profit.