Los Angeles Times – California has had expansive policies mandating and incentivizing the development of greener new homes for years, but the implementation of those goals has been slowed by the weak housing market and the dearth of new construction.
You are viewing category: “Green” Building
Los Angeles Times – Some research projects in California, Oregon, and Washington offer hints that energy efficiency and sustainability certifications for homes may result in easier sales and higher prices.
Sustainable News – For the second year, San Francisco leads the 30 largest office markets for green building opportunities, according to the 2011 Green Building Opportunity Index released this week.
The Green Building Opportunity Index, developed by real estate company Cushman & Wakefield and the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance’s BetterBricks initiative, provides weighted comparisons of top U.S. office markets on the basis of both real estate fundamentals and green development considerations.
As in the inaugural 2010 version, the Index focuses on the primary factors that influence successful development, retrofitting, leasing and sales of investment grade green office buildings in the largest U.S. Central Business Districts.
It compares a market’s relative position to its peers in six categories:
The 2011 Green Building Opportunity Index’s top 10 markets overall were:
“Green and sustainable building initiatives play a large role in solidifying a business district’s rank in the Green Building Index,” says Peter Wilcox, Senior Manager, Commercial Sector, NEEA’s BetterBricks. “Seattle’s adoption of the Energy Disclosure Ordinance and Portland’s stimulus-funded Existing Building Renewal of the Edith Green/Wendell Wyatt Federal Building are two examples that demonstrate how changes to either the regulatory scheme or market fundamentals can dramatically change the market viability of green building adoption.”
Top cities in Each of 6 categories
Office Market Conditions: assesses current market fundamentals, incorporating a combination of metrics including rent, vacancy, leasing activity and absorption. Top markets: Portland, Midtown South New York and Midtown New York.
Investment Outlook: forecasts future conditions using Cushman & Wakefield’s methodology, which includes forecasted rent growth, employment growth and incoming supply. Top markets: San Francisco, Midtown South New York and Midtown New York.
Green Adoption & Implementation: total square footage of LEED certified CBD office space, total square footage of ENERGY STAR® CBD office space, number of LEED accredited professionals per capita and more. Top markets: Washington, D. C., Chicago and Denver.
Local Mandates & Incentives: assesses a municipality’s commitment to sustainable building practices, including state, county and city laws; energy incentives and availability of direct funding. Top markets: Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Midtown South New York
State Energy Initiatives: ranks the effectiveness of state energy policies as measured by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE). All California cities (San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County and Oakland) received a score of 100.
Green Culture: measures a region’s cultural attitudes and commitment to green and sustainable practices. Data from SustainLane, which ranks a city’s performance in 16 different areas, was analyzed and ranked relative to its influence on commercial real estate. Top markets: San Francisco, Midtown South New York, Midtown New York, Downtown New York (New York City scores tied) and Boston.
FHA and Fannie Mae have partnered to offer Green Refinance Plus, a program that allows owners of existing affordable rental housing properties to refinance into new mortgages that include funding for energy- and water-saving upgrades, along with other needed property renovations.
Under the program, FHA and Fannie Mae will share the risk on loans to refinance existing rent-restricted projects while permitting owners to borrow additional funds to make energy-saving improvements to their properties.
Green Refinance Plus is intended to refinance the expiring mortgages of Low Income Housing Tax Credit and other affordable projects and to lower annual operating costs by reducing energy consumption. Fannie Mae and HUD anticipate approximately $100 million in initial refinance volume with an average loan amount of $3.5 to $5 million. FHA will insure up to an additional four-to-five percent of the loan amount, or an average of approximately $150,000 to $250,000 per loan, to provide additional loan funds to pay for property improvements that save energy and water costs for owners and tenants, such as energy efficient windows and ENERGY STAR appliances, as well as other needed property renovations.
Property owners will be able to select the energy-efficiency upgrades that make the most economic sense for their properties. Borrowers will obtain a “Green Physical Needs Assessment” completed by a qualified provider. This assessment identifies property improvements that both reduce energy and operating costs and will help borrowers make rehabilitation choices that will give them the greatest energy savings for their investment.
It makes one wonder what our legislators are up to. When the housing market is tenuous as it is in so many areas of California, why would a representative (the one who is supposed to stand up for the little guy) propose legislation that would have a chance to wipe out any recovery the housing industry might make this year? But Fabian Nunez has introduced Assembly Bill 2678 that could do just that.
The question is not if you believe in global warming or not. It’s also not whether people support energy efficiency. They are. And people are making steps to be “green” on their own with solar heating, recycled building materials, energy efficient water heaters, etc.
The question is this; is it the government’s business to force people to do energy audits at the time of purchase including legislating energy “investments” the new owners must make? As is often the case with law makers, they look at their good intentions, not the real consequences of such leislation.
The San Francisco Association of Realtors makes some great points about what could happen to our already crippled housing market:
The California Association of REALTORS® has indicated that while it has no objection to increasing energy efficiency, AB 2678, if passed by the State legislature and signed into law by the governor, will be both dangerous to the real estate market and grossly ineffective. Here’s why the State Association believes AB 2678 is a bad idea:
To develop opposition to AB 2678, the State Association is urging REALTORS® statewide to contact their Assembly members to tell them that the bill, if it becomes law, will be grossly ineffective in achieving its results and further weaken the real estate market and the economy. San Francisco’s Assembly members are Mark Leno and Fiona Ma. Their telephone numbers are shown below.
Please contact our local legislators today. Your call could make a difference.
As a real estate investor, I am insulted that our state legislators would try and impose these expensive and onerous regulations on an industry already in trouble. I urge you to contact your state representative and tell them you are opposed to Mr. Nunez’s bill.
- Mick Orton
Elected officials and corporate America may finally be waking up to that fact that the world is no longer able to produce the coal and fossil fuels necessary to sustain America’s energy needs, and that renewable energy holds the promise of a better future for this and future generations of Americans. For builders, this realization represents an ideal time to consider a new, profitable business model that includes solar power in new home developments. California’s Million Solar Roofs Bill (SB 1), effective January 1, 2007, is the first step in what promises to be a jump start to an energy paradigm shift among property owners across the country.
“With this new law, California is on pace to becoming the Saudi Arabia of the sun,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, Clean Energy Advocate with Environment California, the leading sponsor of the Million Solar Roofs bill. “The sky is no limit when it comes to how much of our energy can come from solar power. With high energy prices, rolling blackouts, and growing air pollution problems, everyone in California will benefit from the building of a million solar roofs in the next ten years.”
California Senator Kevin Murray, author of the new law, agrees with Del Chiaro. Murray, speaking at Solar Power 2006, dubbed the largest business-to-business solar energy event in the history of the United States, said that marketing solar energy to the public is essential if new laws like SB 1 are to be successful. “The technology is already here and it’s reliable, but the message needs to be relayed to the general public that solar energy is not some future technology only celebrities or the extremely wealthy can afford.”
Corporate America seems willing to help move that marketing effort along. Sharp Electronics Corporation, the Mahwah, N.J.-based marketing and sales subsidiary of Japan’s Sharp Corporation, unveiled a new brand campaign designed to deepen the company’s connection with consumers and strengthen its presence in the residential market. Together with home equity financing options through CitiMortgage and the launch of a complete Solar Racking System, Sharp’s branding efforts will make solar power more accessible to consumers than ever before.
“We’re honored to be the market leader in the industry, particularly during such an exciting time of accelerated growth and heightened public interest,” said Marc Cortez, director of marketing, Solar Energy Solutions Group, Sharp. “It’s a responsibility we take seriously by learning from and communicating with our customers, so that in turn we can offer the highest-performing and most reliable solar solutions.”
Sharp’s new brand identity consists of two distinct elements that address installers and individual consumers with efforts that make it easier than ever to go solar. The “It’s On” portion of the campaign highlights the company’s ongoing commitment to installers by providing them with new systems, tools and products that will help them grow their businesses. For example, Sharp’s new Solar Racking System provides residential and commercial contractors with the unique advantage of a simplified installation, as well as improved aesthetics and superb reliability.
Sharp’s “Hello, Sunshine” slogan is meant to engage and educate a growing customer base on the benefits of solar energy. A recent Roper survey commissioned by Sharp demonstrated that consumers are extremely receptive to solar power, with eight out of 10 Americans believing that homebuilders should offer solar power as an option for all new home construction. Two-thirds of those surveyed were willing to pay a premium for homes that have solar systems installed, when told that solar homes have a proven higher resale value, and one-half of respondents would spend up to 10 percent more for a solar-equipped house.
To further engage these consumers and help finance a solar installation, Sharp has teamed with CitiMortgage to offer a home equity financing program for solar energy systems. Instead of dipping into savings or applying for a standard loan through a bank, homeowners can use the equity in their homes to help offset the cost of installing solar panels on the roof.
“This conference will be the largest solar event in U.S. history. We are seeing strong participation from players outside of the traditional ‘solar chain’ like utilities, raw material suppliers, financiers, homebuilders, startups, and large end-users,” said Julia Judd, Executive Director of the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) and Solar Power 2006 Conference Chair.
“A combination of factors, including the long-term commitment by California and the softening of some international markets, has made the U.S. a much more attractive market for international solar companies. We are seeing a huge increase in international participation, especially those from Germany, China and Taiwan,” added Judd.
In addition to Sharp, the Home Depot and partner BP Solar, are marketing a solar system and installation program to the general public called, “Now Solar Power is as Easy as 1-2-3. ” Interested parties can go online and sign up for a free, in-home consultation.
Attendance at the week-long Solar Power 2006 in San Jose, California, is expected to more than triple to about 5,000 attendees, up from 1,300 last year. Some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley were on hand, such as keynote speaker Vinod Khosla, founder of Sun Microsystems, as well as California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Solar Power 2006 is organized by SEPA and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
- Peter Mosca
A reader asks: I have heard the term green housing. Are these homes becoming more popular?
Our reply:The term green housing is a relatively new term brought about by environmentalists who promote the use of “earth friendly” and recycled materials in homes as well as ensuring they are energy efficient. It is the latest craze in building technology.
In San Francisco, even the Mayor has gotten into the act. In August of 2005, the San Francisco Chronicle he announced that all new affordable housing projects would promote “high environmental standards”. Some of the new features would include solar panels, recycled building materials and so on.
Green construction has gotten very popular lately, especially in California. The US Green Building Council has a website full of information as well as links to other sites providing resources on this topic.
- Mick Orton