In recent years, the U.S. home building industry has undoubtedly seen its troubles. The downturn in the economy has forced many builders to rethink how they approach their market now that it is much smaller. In many cases those builders have chosen to address the increasing demand for green homes. By offering green homes, many builders are now meeting their customers’ needs for energy- and water-efficient homes with a healthier environment and financial benefits. What once was a niche can now be seen as mainstream. According to the United States Green Building Council, their LEED for Homes program has certified 10,000 homes since it started in 2008. This sounds very impressive, but what is a green home, and what are the benefits compared to a traditional home?
Michael Tolson MBA, LEED AP
Michael Tolson is an entrepreneur focusing on "green" real estate development in Toledo, OH and surrounding areas. He currently owns Tolson Construction, and The Tolson Development Company. In an attempt to further drive businesses, Michael has completed an Executive MBA and a Graduate Specialization in finance from the University of Toledo. His companies focus on commercial and residential buildings using the United States Green Building Council’s LEED rating system. With this in mind, Michael has earned his LEED Accredited Professional designation.
Over the past few years home improvement and building improvement have taken a dramatic shift toward retrofits with financial benefits. Homeowners and building managers are no longer content with inefficient homes and underperforming assets. Instead, they are looking for multiple ways to lower their expenses. One of many successful strategies has been to decrease water use through the installation of low-flow fixtures. However, the question must be asked: what is the return on investment (ROI) of low-flow fixtures?
As the green building movement begins to hit its stride, geothermal systems are quickly gaining prominence as efficient and attractive choices for projects featuring alternative energy. Although fewer subsidies for geothermal systems are available when compared to solar, the initial investment for the installation of a geothermal system can be lower. This makes a geothermal system’s return on investment (ROI) extremely favorable. It is this financial analysis that may lead to the inclusion of geothermal systems in more building projects as its awareness grows.
In recent years, the world of real estate has focused on sustainability, and rightfully so. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings account for 40% of primary energy use in the United States, as well as 39% of its carbon dioxide emissions. These numbers have played a part in the industry’s drive toward green building. Owners are no longer content with traditional energy use and the negative impact that it has. Building owners have identified tangible returns to going green, including increased marketability, decreased operating costs, and the halo effect. These returns create an opportunity for carbon offset investments.
In this second addition of “ROI-Driven Products," we take a look at insulation, which is a big part of a building’s envelope. When insulation is installed correctly, it provides the necessary R-value to meet the thermal demands of the region and the comfort demands of the building’s occupants. With energy prices on the rise, building envelopes have come under more and more scrutiny. Homeowners and business owners alike are now seeing the need to improve the building envelope and increase its overall efficiency.
Solar projects have taken off around the United States and the rest of the world in the past few years, partly because of higher energy costs and increases in financing options. The U.S. federal government has created many such options, including tax credits and grants. Lately, solar renewable energy certificate (SREC) programs at the state level have caught the industry’s attention. SRECs have begun to take shape as creative financing tools for all types of solar projects. In both residential and commercial projects, SRECs have proven to be the difference in financial feasibility.
During times of economic uncertainty, we need to expect more out of every investment. Whether as a homeowner making small improvements or as a business owner making multimillion dollar improvements, we must make highly informed decisions to capitalize on the investment. Buildipedia's new series on ROI (return on investment) driven products looks to provide the information to help make these decisions. This step-by-step approach to a product's cost as well as its ROI will aid both new builds and retrofits. Here we focus on windows and toilets, both of which play big roles in energy and water usage in our buildings and provide different opportunities to reduce expenses.
The economic case for installing solar electric panels on your house or place of business is a heavily discussed topic these days. With the green building movement in full force, photovoltaic (PV) systems are becoming more and more popular. In many cases, though, homeowners and small business owners lack the necessary information to make an educated decision on whether to go ahead with a photovoltaic (PV) system installation. In order to make an educated decision on a PV system, the owner must approach the purchase with the return on investment (ROI) in mind.
For more than ten years now the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) has been transforming the way we build through its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. This transformation has been driven by local, state, and federal government, as well as institutions. However, the past two years have seen an increasing number of private LEED projects; this trend has sparked interest in the return on investment (ROI) of LEED certification.