Last night I had the opportunity to attend a seminar on Building Green Homes that was sponsored by and held at the Earth Advantage offices in Portland, OR. Although Janice and I are real estate agents here in Vancouver Washington, We don't mind making the drive down to participate in Earth Advantage events.
Michael R. Klement, the principal of Architectural Resource, was the speaker for the evening. For those who aren't aware, Michael and Architectural Resource are responsible for the first LEED Platinum remodel in the Midwest.
Michael spent 2 hours discussing green building techniques that are currently being used in new construction as well as remodel projects. I walked away with two new realizations.
1. I am amazed at how green we are getting with remodels. Designers and builders are teaming up to create some wonderful green remodeled homes. They are taking a holistic approach to these projects and building homes that work as complete systems. These are not the "Additions" of the past. Every aspect of the project is planned in advance and built to strict codes. (LEED) When these homes are finished they are much more efficient than many of the new homes that are "Claiming" to be green. I am not just talking about Energy Star appliances and tankless hot water systems. Some of these projects include insulated concrete form foundations, energy recovery ventilators, tankless hot water systems, geo thermal heating and cooling systems, advanced framing techniques, hot roofs, and water gathering and recycling systems. Walls aren't torn down anymore, they are deconstructed and the materials are often time repurposed elsewhere in the project. Although a project like this isn't cheap, it may be the answer for folks who want to live in a green home but can't afford to buy a new one.
2. The economy and our current market conditions may actually be helping to promote green building. I am not an economist (I only play one on TV! Just kidding) and I am not going to attempt to discuss those forces. What I can tell you is that building has slowed considerable in the past 18 months and builders are looking for ways to differentiate themselves for the rest of the competition. Green building is a natural next step for them. Also keep in mind that although building and real estate has slowed down, technology is still progressing at full speed ahead. That should bring prices down and make some of these things more attainable for the average buyer. I think that is a good thing!
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