- Bold U.S. Energy Goal Put Forward on Capitol Hill: 25% of Energy from Renewable Sources by 2025 – A bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives have re-introduced the 25x’25 House and Senate Concurrent Resolutions calling for a new national renewable energy goal: 25% of the nation’s energy supply from renewable sources by 2025 (see also www.25×25.org).
- Wal-Mart to Open First High-Efficiency Store; Supercenter Expected to Use 20% Less Energy – Wal-Mart Stores,Inc. (NYSE: WMT) announced it will open tomorrow in Kansas City, Mo., the first in a series of high-efficiency stores that will use 20% less energy than a typical Supercenter. The new high-efficiency stores will integrate industry-leading heating, cooling, and refrigeration systems to conserve energy.
- Poll Says 77% of American Say U.S. Must Do More to Spur Green Technologies – The Zogby/TechNet nationwide poll of 1,043 Americans found that 77% of U.S. voters believe that our nation must do more to promote green technologies. 75% of the voting population said that their purchasing decisions in the past year have been influenced by a desire to save energy and improve the environment.
- Unleash Your Inner Al Gore with These 12 Eco-Tips – Being green isn’t just for tree-huggers anymore. In fact, 2007 may be a banner year for going green. Read on.
On the first day of the new year, I blogged about my personal goal to flaunt the business case for green real estate. I really do believe there are big opportunities in sustainability, and this week, BusinessWeek is doing the job for me. Sort of. The cover story is "Beyond the Green Corporation: Imagine a world in which eco-friendly and socially responsible practices actually help a company’s bottom line. It’s closer than you think." The article doesn’t have a real estate focus, but real estate is business.
I liked one point the article made: "Companies that talk the most about sustainability aren’t always the best at executing." Take Ford, for example. Ford spent a reported $2 billion renovating their River Rouge facility into a green building, but do we consider sustainability one of Ford’s core competencies? I don’t. Sustainability is ancillary to what it really does, which is to make big trucks. Big F150s. Does it have sustainable practices? Maybe, but sustainability isn’t Ford’s core competency. And Ford’s not alone. Everyone is trying to grapple with the complicated balancing act between quarterly numbers and long-term sustainable practices.
Companies that make sustainability a core competency will be very profitable in the future. But, that’s easier said than done because sustainability will require entirely new ways of doing things. It will take time. It takes my weekend research. You won’t find sustainability taught in most MBA schools yet, either. But this is what competitive advantage is all about, isn’t it?
It looks like LivingHomes is lighting up the blogosphere again with more news. I’ve talked about Living Homes here + here, and I really like the company, big-time. So there are a few tidbits of news that you may find interesting: (1) LivingHomes has committed to make all its homes LEED Silver, at a minimum, and will work with owners to pay for certification costs, and (2) LivingHomes has entered into a partnership with Enterprise Community Partners (ECP) to take some proceeds from LivingHomes sales and put them into a fund for affordable green home communities. So we see LivingHomes expanding its target consumer base to allow for broader adoption due to possibly lower prefab costs–that said, these are green, architect-designed homes that command a price premium.
Interestingly, you’ll also find Ray Kappe’s second design (RK2) on the newly redesigned LivingHomes webpage. Pictured above, RK2 will be LEED Silver (Total Points = 50.5) and will have the following green benefits: yearly energy savings enough to power the home for 2 months; yearly water savings enough to fill 2 swimming pools; 80% of construction waste diverted from landfills; and 67% construction from recyclable materials. It will be about 2,215 square feet, with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. RK2 looks to be the perfect fit for large lots with expansive views. It will include an interior garden as well.
You may have already heard that House & Garden Magazine took a green approach in its latest installment, the February issue I believe. One article talks about an interview with William McDonough, in which he mentions the orientation of a home. Earlier, I blogged about Global Green USA’s Top 20 list of low- or no-cost green building strategies and orientation was #1. Regarding orientation, the rule is to "orient a building to maximize natural daylighting." As part of the orientation process, one needs to find a building’s true south and build it in such a way, to maximize sun exposure/non-exposure, and thereby, optimize energy-efficiency (i.e., use the sun instead of artificial lighting, use the sun’s warmth instead of heating, use the shade’s cool instead of air conditioning, etc.).
McDonough pointed out that many architects and builders don’t know how to find true south. If a compass is used, the compass indicates south, which can differ from true south by more than 15 degrees. Remember, orienting a home is about orienting the home to sun exposure, not magnetic south. To find true south, one needs two things: (1) to know your geography’s solar noon, and (2) to use the sun to draw perfect north/south line exactly at solar noon. Solar noon is the time when the sun hits the highest point in the sky and can be found using the following Sunrise/Sunset Calculator. Once the solar noon is figured out, take a line with a weight attached to it, hold it up in the air at solar noon, and the shadow line will reveal the proper north/south orientation of a home. That line will point to true south and will help you build the home properly, assuming you have some latitude in deciding the orientation of the home.
Guest post contributed by Nancy Haecker, Co-Founder of Green Planet Paints, an Arizona-based company innovating natural, zero VOC paints for compelling interior applications.
Beauty. Simplicity. Green Planet Paints (GPP) has developed an interior house paint that sets a new standard for environmentally responsible paint. Using natural, renewable plant and minerals sources, GPP has created a soy based resin to replace the use of petrochemicals in paint, creating an innovative, zero VOC paint. They have also replaced the harmful dye coloring system with clay color pigments. The results are a paint built and manufactured by sustainable principles that surpass conventional paints in performance and color. Green Planet Paints are recommended for interior wall surfaces and come in exotic and earthy colors. Green Planet Paints can be purchased at select retail stores or on the website. Nancy Haecker can be reached at nancyhaecker [a] earthlink dot net.
I was in Utah over the weekend for Equity Green‘s wedding. He’s a real estate tax guy named Garrett, so visit the archives if you want to learn about green real estate from that perspective. While in town, I picked up Utah Business magazine, which included an article on the state’s 2007 Economic Forecast, and I noticed a list of the Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies [Registration required]. Guess who was on the list as the state’s #22 fastest growing companies? 3Form. The magazine says 3Form is company that "creates resin products for design and construction industries." More specifically, 3Form is committed to environmental solutions for their industry and was recognized by BuildingGreen in 2006, for having a Top-10 Green Building Product. I’ve written about both 3Form and the Top-10 Green Building Products list previously at the links above.