Construction And The Environment - Green Building

This is a conclusion to our series of articles on ways in which construction affects the environment. Green building is a concept in construction which aims at creating environment friendly construction. The aim here is to reduce the impact of construction on the environment as well as coming up with remedial measures to resuscitate the already chocking environment. Below are just examples of green construction practices.

· Using renewable energy sources in buildings for example solar and wind energy in the place of electricity and fossil fuels.

· Coming up with designs that require minimum energy supporting systems like maximizing on day lighting in buildings as opposed to electric lighting.

· Reducing the use of timber in construction, especially rare and deciduous types, and in their place using fast growing species like bamboo and softwoods in controlled forests and plantations.

· Reusing timber as well as timber wastes like saw dust to make timber replacements.

· Tapping into rainwater and other precipitation for use in buildings to replace or supplement water from other sources.

· Reducing water wastage by making use of pressure control valves, low flush cisterns and the like.

· Reusing grey water (all used water in the house, other than from closets, bidets and such).

· Using porous materials in parking and general surfaces to allow for percolation of water for replenishing sub surface.

· Incorporating gardening and greening in built up areas, including the introduction of green roofs.

· Reducing earth-moving activities for construction works.

· Avoiding construction in environmentally fragile areas for example water catchment areas.

· Reducing the wastes from buildings that end up in land fills by ensuring sorting at source. A good example is where biodegradable wastes are put in different bins and used as fertilizers.

· Rehabilitating derelict land and mine fields by planting trees and such environmental conservation measures.

All these and many other similar measures will definitely nurture the environment. They will however need a lot of deliberation and forward planning so as to make success. It is also worth noting that green building is usually more expensive upfront but could be affordable in the building life cycle. Furthermore, the extra cost in money will be compensated in a sustainable environment.

Green construction is a collective responsibility and should be sought by all and sundry. Architectural association and building regulatory boards the world over should put all the necessary efforts to have their jurisdictions adopt green construction. Governments should also demonstrate green building in their projects to have their subjects easily accept them. Learning institutions and training institutes should also put enough emphasis on these procedures. Green construction materials and equipment should also be zero rated to reduce costs as well as create a preference.

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BREEAM and the Riba Plan of Work

The BREEAM assessment methodology is a popular way of expressing the sustainability performance of new buildings in Europe and the Middle East and particularly in the United Kingdom. The Riba Plan of Work is a system of building project planning that is widely used by architects in the United Kingdom. This article discusses how managing BREEAM projects can successfully be aligned to the Riba Plan of Work.

BREEAM rates building projects in five categories: pass, good, very good, excellent and outstanding. The rating is based on an assessment of many different issues that relate to sustainable construction. Although there are some mandatory measures that need to be implemented, it is not necessary to score in each of the issues considered to achieve one of the ratings. It is therefore a client and design team decision which sustainability measures will be selected to achieve the required rating. The selection criteria are usually made up of a combination of cost effectiveness, ease of implementation and client preferences.

Many of the issues that are considered within the BREEAM methodology are specific to development site and not associated with the built form itself. The final suite of sustainability measures that will be implemented is therefore often different for each project, particularly when aiming to achieve the more ambitious ratings such as excellent and outstanding. To ensure cost-effective implementation it is important to start considering sustainability issues early on in the project cycle.

The Riba Plan of Work divides the development of construction projects in eleven distinct stages, labeled Riba stage A to Riba stage L. The plan of work provides guidance and procedures of the activities that should take place during each of the stages. In addition it identifies which of the parties involved in the project should be responsible for completing these activities.

The early stages (A and B) are about preparation. During these stages the client's requirements are identified and constraints and opportunities examined. This leads to the development of a design brief (Riba B).

The stages C, D and E cover the design of the development from concept (Riba C) to detailed design (Riba E). The Riba stages F, G and H are about preparing contract documents and going to tender with selected contractors. The construction activities and responsible parties are described in Riba stages J and K. Finally Riba stage L details the activities and responsible parties required to support the new occupants during the initial phase of occupation.

When I work with my clients I guide them through the BREEAM assessment in a process that consists of five stages:

1. BREEAM Appraisal
2. BREEAM Strategy
3. BREEAM Pre-assessment
4. Design Stage Assessment
5. Post Construction Review

The aim of carrying out an appraisal in an early stage of the project is to provide an overview of the sustainability constraints and opportunities of the project and to identify the potential actions that are required to achieve the various BREEAM performance categories. The appraisal will help in setting the BREEAM performance standard and provides a road-map for the remainder of the project. These are essential ingredients of the strategy. For instance, certain BREEAM credits are only available when further surveys or assessments are carried out during the design stage of the project. The appraisal will identify those that are relevant to the project, allowing the project manager to ensure that these are budgeted for and that sufficient time is allocated within the programme.

The appraisal and defining the strategy should take place early on in the project cycle, ideally no later than during the Riba B stage. BREEAM recognises the importance this and awards up to two credits when this is done with the support of a BREEAM Accredited Professional.

The pre-assessment follows on from the appraisal and should reflect the sustainability measures that the project team has committed to implement. This document should be completed before the end of Riba D and should be submitted to the local planning authority with a full planning application. The pre-assessment report should also be included in any tender information that is made available to construction contractors bidding for the construction of the building.

The design stage assessment should be completed before construction starts at the Riba J stage. The design stage assignment differs from the pre-assessment in that for each of the sustainability measures that will be implemented full evidence is required to back-up the claims. This stage should be completed formally so that an interim certificate can be awarded.

Finally the post construction review serves to confirm the interim BREEAM rating at the design stage assessment. The post construction review is a formal step and leads to the award of the final BREEAM certificate. It should be carried out when construction is completed and occupation of the building starts (Riba K or L).

Finley Falconer is a sustainability specialist. He works for Planning for Sustainability Ltd where he carries out BREEAM Assessments. He also leads the companies dedicated BREEAM platform at

Original article

Why We Need Solar Systems As Standard Home Options

Solar photovoltaic and solar thermal systems are gaining in popularity, especially in the South West United States where, according to SolarBuzz.Com, growth rates for new solar system installations by 2014 will increase by as much as 10 times that of the market size in 2009. One would think that with such phenomenal growth rates, more home manufacturers, factor built builders especially, would add solar pv and solar thermal systems as standard options.

So why don't more manufacturers do this since the solar market seems to be taking off? The answer lies primarily in the development cost of associated with providing new options of any kind to consumers. Developing new home options that require complex engineering plans and designs is not cheap. A home builder that want to add energy efficiency options in to the mix of what they offer consumers can look at having to bankroll a development project for years before they may see any real return on investment. This, primarily, is the reason most installations of solar systems happen on existing homes and not be developers themselves.

Some home builders do offer these systems as options but, quite frankly, these companies are few and far between. We project that as the industry continues to increase in terms of demand, more home builders in the South West will look to add these options in to their regular product offerings to not only meet consumer demand, but also as a new profit center. Why should these systems be offered only after market?

California comprises almost 50% of all new solar system installations annually. Even though the housing market may be in a downward spiral, new home sales, especially in the manufactured home market, are doing well due mostly to the reduced overall cost as compared to site built homes. While consumers may turn to the factory built variety of homes to save their hard earned dollars, they still want high end options available to them.

Cost savings is one of the driving forces that makes consumers want to invest in solar systems. I predict that home builders that offer homes in the South West United States will begin offering more options to meet people's needs in the solar arena, not because its good to do so necessarily, but more so because of demand and the ability to create a new profit center within existing businesses. Energy efficient home options that include PV and solar thermal systems should be standard options in the near future.

Luca Brammer is the Director of Business Development for Hallmark-Southwest Corporation. Hallmark-Southwest is a builder of California manufactured homes specializing in energy efficient home design and Net-Zero energy efficiency.

Original article

Invest in Real Estate the Smart Way

Many people think of real estate as a gamble, but a necessary thing to do in India. People usually turn towards real estate agents and agencies like landlord India who will help you in your endeavors to find a perfect home of your dreams! But ultimately, it is you who has to shell out the necessary money and make a smart decision. For most of us, house is an investment for the long run and it is the single most important and large investment of our lifetime! Investing in such a big area is a risky factor and calls for lot of thinking and decision-making process. In fact, house buying in India is also an emotional aspect! Hence it needs to be done with utmost care and precaution. Here are some pointers which will help you in making smart and wise decisions:

- Majority of the ground work needs to be done by the person himself. Gather as much information about the location, market conditions etc as possible

- Make the decision based on returns, rentals, your income, future prospects etc especially if you are buying a house. You need to think of future possibilities also

- Keep an eye on BSE realty index and other such indices

- Talk to as many people as possible - but remember more the people, more the opinions. Ultimately, it is you who has to decide!

- Beware of recent market crashes - keep all options open and have a plan B

- Use expert opinions and past trends to calculate return on investment for that house

- Always keep a margin of safety

One of the main advantages of investing in real estate in India is diversification value. Other advantages are yield enhancement, continuous inflationary trends, ability to influence performance etc. you can paint the house, re decorate it, fix all problems and hike up the value considerably. The owner plays an important role in contributing towards the value of the house!

You can also think of investing in smaller apartments or duplexes and condominiums. They are comparatively smaller in terms of financial investment and return on investment is usually good! At the same time, pride of ownership is also there.

It totally depends on your knowledge and vision as to how you play with market trends and convert them into money for you! Beware and make sound investments.

For most of us, house investment is the single most important and big investment of our life! Hence we want the maximum returns on it. Here are some tips to make a smart investment decision.

For more information about Real Estate Properties for Sale, Visit: Indian Property Portal

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Construction And The Environment - Introduction

As seen in my previous articles, construction is among the major human activities that result to landmark products. The activities of construction produce items that stand on land replacing natural features or even changing them. Some of the activities change the landscape by either adding or omitting some of them. Construction also makes use of a good number of materials borrowed from the environment, whether in their natural state or in a processed form. Furthermore, the usage of the product of construction leads to the production of elements of waste which are then directed to the environment, mostly in a cleansed manner, although in most cases, this is not fully accomplished.

In all these activities, the environment is impacted in one way or the other. In many occasions, they are detrimental to the environment, with the only variable being the degree and nature of such impact. While some effects are short - term and easily overcome, others are irreversible and thus leave a permanent mark on our environment.

Being among a global concern, environmental impact reduction should be reduced, reversed and even prevented from occurring by all that are involved. This will include all stakeholders in the construction industry, as it is a potential cause of such ills to our environment. The following are just a few ways that various players in the construction industry can use to achieve environmental friendly projects:

· Prospective builders should be advised on the need and ways of building environmental friendly buildings.

· Designers should see to it that matters environment are handled with utmost care in all projects they handle.

· Statutory bodies should ensure that construction designs and methodologies adopted for any upcoming projects are in tandem with the responsibility of environmental care and sustainability.

· Occupiers should ensure that no activity that they are engaged in result to environmental jeopardy.

When all and sundry understand the need and the ways of caring for the environment, then we will be a step closer to good environmental impact management as far as construction is concerned. It is also worth noting that for such a goal to be successful, it calls for the collective responsibility by all. Otherwise, the sweat of one person will be watered down by the ignorance or omission of the other. Teaching all the stake holders on these matters will make sure that they have a clear knowledge of how to minimize the detriment that has continued to eat away our environment.

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Going Green? Start With a Home Energy Survey

There are signs that the Miami real estate market may be close to the bottom, if it's not already there. It's about time, right? Everyone is looking for a steal.

Maybe that's why, since the beginning of 2011, I have been getting more and more calls on distressed mortgage financing. The most common question asked is about the mortgage options available for REO (real estate owned) properties, most of which have been sitting for some time and have what is called deferred maintenance. My recommendation to these folks is an Energy Efficient Mortgage or EEM for short (aka Energy Improvement Mortgage). A property that has not had the power turned on for months can be riddled with problems and can benefit from the program features of an Energy Efficient Mortgage. For instance, living in South Florida, the most common issues are related to moisture and mold. One piece of advice I give to a potential client seeking a distressed property is to get a home energy survey done. A home energy survey is a visual inspection to evaluate the overall energy performance of the house you are looking to purchase. This report will provide you with a great starting point to help determine the extent of the work that would need to be done in order to complete necessary repairs.

Some specific examples of how a home energy survey can help you:

--Reduce your energy bill by pinpointing the inefficient and electricity-wasting areas of your home.
--Uncover potential problems prior to any major damage occurring, i.e. South Florida is notorious for mold which could have been cause by an improper bathroom fan.
--Improve your home's comfort by making your house airtight. Leaving leaky windows/doors unsealed is like throwing money out the window, literally!

Items reviewed in the typical home energy survey include:

Any visual health or safety issues

--Visible signs of moisture
--Condition of appliances
--Heating, cooling, including ventilation and duct work issues

If you are interested in a more complex report, you can also request a building performance audit. This report includes all of the inspections above, but will take it to the next level by use of high tech tools for further diagnosis. If you have been living in your home in Miami for over 10 years and looking to refinance with an Energy Efficient Mortgage and feel that your comfort is not where it used to be, this report may be the ticket to get to the bottom of your problem. Some of the diagnostics used in this process will help you:

--Determine the amount and location of air leakage from your duct work.
--Measure the effectiveness of the insulation within your walls and ceiling.
--Possible combustion safety issues.

I recommend these types of surveys to be completed on older homes ASAP if you're looking to buy, or prior to refinancing your existing mortgage with an Energy Improvement Mortgage. Why, you ask? It's simple. EEMs only allow you to spend a certain dollar amount on renovations and updates, so need to have a plan! You want to spend your renovation monies wisely in order to maximize your home's energy efficiency, comfort, resale value, and marketability, and reduce your carbon footprint.

Ensuring that your home is energy efficient requires that you take the right steps, like those outlined above. There are no short-cuts. Going green also requires a little bit of time, and of course some money. A home is not just a place to hang your hat, but it is also an investment. By investing in the right energy improvements now with an Energy Improvement Mortgage, you will not only see the benefit in the short term, through lower monthly energy bills, but also in the long term, as you will be able to keep your energy costs down for years to come! Before you know it, these improvements will have paid for themselves!

Certified in Green Mortgages | FHA 203k | Specializing in distressed properties offering borrowers an opportunity rehabilitate the cost of energy-efficient "green" improvements.

Original article

Tips on Sustainable Architecture

One of the breakthrough concepts which emerged from the green construction is the idea of sustainable architecture. This simply means using Eco-friendly techniques and materials in the architectural field. The green building and green living techniques aims to create as little waste as possible. Sustainable architecture also promotes the use of clean and renewable energy with the use of building materials that do not damage the earth's environment.

Sustainable architecture focuses largely on how energy will be used to provide the much needed power for the entire structure being built. To effectively conserve energy, the building must have an excellent insulation. Shutters, shades and awning are widely used in green building because these require no electricity for its operation and yet, they can be used as passive building coolers. Passive solar energy which is collected from windows which are strategically located is valuable in conserving energy as well. In terms of using renewable energy, solar panels can be used to capture energy from the sun. Solar energy can be used in providing energy for the home or structures.

Air source heat pumps absorb heat from cold outside air, and it delivers it inside the building or the house. These work like air conditioners in reverse. On the other hand, geothermal heat pumps can also use the warmth from underground to provide heat to a home or a building.

When it comes to sustainable building, the proponents and experts recommend some earth-friendly materials like coconut, concrete, harvested wood, rock, bamboo, linoleum, sheep wool, clay, cork, vermiculite, straw and other natural-based objects. One of the most important components of sustainable architecture is the use of recycled materials such as glass, lumber and denim. You may also reuse doors, windows, flooring and other recycled architectural components to build a sustainable structure. In addition to these, cellulose insulation, lumbers treated with Boric acid, and organic or milk-based paints are used to complete a green building. These materials do not damage the environment to the same extent as the non-Eco-friendly materials.

Another important component of sustainable architecture is waste management. The proponents of green construction require construction companies to design and build their structures based on an Eco-friendly method. The focus is on on-site waste management especially in terms of solid waste, construction waste, and all the by-products of the construction process. Composting and off-site recycling are taken into consideration when carrying out green building. This is also done to ensure that the health of the people working in the site and on the surrounding communities is protected from all the harmful effects of the wastes.

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Passive Solar Techniques - The Trombe Wall

Mention solar technology and most people automatically assume that solar panels are involved in one way or another. While this is generally true, the concept of passive solar energy has been used from thousands of years to heat structures. The trombe wall is one form of low tech used in passive solar for heating a home at night.

The trombe wall is named after Felix Trombe, a French inventor who created the modern version in the 1950s. The basic idea behind the wall is the manipulation of thermal storage and heat release. Put in simpler terms, the wall is used to capture and hold heat during the day and release it in the evening. In doing so, the wall becomes a repository for heat much like the pavement on a parking lot during the day.

To understand how the trombe wall functions, it helps to first contemplate how passive solar energy works as a heating process. A simple example suffices. Imagine you drive to the grocery store. You park in the parking lot and head inside. You are there for no more than 30 minutes. When you come out to the car, what has happened? It has turned into an oven! This is passive solar at its finest. The sunlifht has heated up every dark surface in the interior of the car, which then radiates heat. During the summer, sitting down on the seats can be a delicate maneuver, particularly if you are in shorts!

What if you could capture this heat during the hottest periods of the day and slowly release it at night when temperatures drop? This is exactly what the trombe wall is designed to do. The average trombe wall is between 8 and 16 inches thick. It is typically made of concrete. On the exterior face, the wall is covered with a heat absorbing material. This can be a painted on dark color or absorbent material. A double layer of glass is then placed about an inch outside of this and forms the exterior of the structure. It looks a little odd to have a wall inside of glass, but the heating impact is significant.

As sunlight penetrates the glass, it heats up the surface of the concrete wall. The wall then absorbs the heat at a rate of about an inch an hour. By the end of a sunny day, you have a concrete wall that is heated up much like the rocks in a sauna, although obviously not as hot. The double glass serves to insulate one side of the wall. Once the temperature in the area starts to cool below the heat level of the trombe wall, it will start to emit heat. The heat rises. Vents and small fans can be put in to circulate the warm air into the interior of the home where it can be funneled to rooms in use. This can be done day-after-day so long as the sun hits the wall.

Solar power is a complex energy platform and involves much broader techniques then just solar panels or water heaters. Passive solar can be a powerful way to deal with heating issues and the trombe wall is one example of this.

Thomas Ajava writes for - your online source for information on solar energy such as solar farm residential developments.

Original article

12 Tips to Sell Your Home Faster - Go Green!

These days, it seems as if everyone is growing more concerned with protecting the environment and going green; especially home buyers. Because of all the great benefits of owning a green home, there is an increasing demand for eco-friendly, green friendly homes in the housing market. According to a recent survey constructed by McGraw-Hill, "70 percent of buyers are either more or much more inclined to purchase a green home over a conventional home in down housing market."

The benefits of owning a green home are innumerable: green homes are safer for your health, much cheaper and easier to maintain, and better for the environment. Buyers are looking to make that switch to gain peace of mind, and to drastically cut utility expenses.

How can a green home benefit the home seller? Being able to state your home is eco-friendly is a huge draw for buyers, giving your home a leading edge in the tough housing market competition. Buyers are also willing to pay more for a home with energy saving additions; the Earth Advantage Institute has determined that homes with third-party environmental certifications (such as a LEED certification) sell for 30 percent more than conventional homes without such ratings.

Avoid getting stuck in the stagnant housing market! If you want to sell your home faster, consider making these green changes:

Home solar panels are able to convert thermal energy that is produced courtesy of the sun, into real electricity. Solar electricity can be used to power anything in your home from your TV to your kitchen appliances. Although the investment is expensive, according to a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, solar panels can potentially boost home sale prices by 3 to 4 percent.

Lighting accounts for 20% of all home energy use. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL's) use 75% less energy than traditional light bulbs. Replace old light bulbs in permanent fixtures to add value and boost your homes efficiency.

To lower heating and cooling bills, buyers look for walls and roofs that have adequate insulation. Uninsulated walls can lose up to 33% of a homes heat, drastically increasing energy costs. For bonus points, consider insulation made out of alternative materials, such as Cellulose, which is mostly made out of recycled newspapers.

Check for air leaks and apply new caulking and weather stripping around doors and windows where necessary. This will not only improve your homes appearance, but will also lower heating and cooling costs.

If your home has single-pane windows, consider replacing them with double-pane windows to reduce heating and cooling costs up to 25%.

Typical household paint may contain upwards of 300 known toxic chemicals (half of which have been linked to cancer) and a total of more than 10,000 total chemicals. These toxic emissions linger in the air for years after any paint job is complete. Volatile Organic Compounds are the worst offenders in the paint chemical category. VOC-free paint is free of the noxious odors that are usually associated with painting; resulting in safer, healthier air quality.

Not only for their beauty, eco-friendly buyers are opting towards bamboo flooring and cabinets also for the endless sustainability. Hardwood trees can take up to 80 years to reach the height and density large enough to harvest, whereas bamboo reaches its maximum height in less than a year, and becomes dense enough to harvest within four to six years. Like a grass, bamboo quickly regenerates and can be cut without harming the plant.

The kitchen can make or break a home sale, especially if the appliances are outdated. Besides the aesthetic appeal, modern appliances have a distinct advantage: energy efficiency. Energy efficient appliances that hold an Energy Star label have been found to use up to 50% less energy and water than older, standard models.

In order to obtain maximum water conservation, replace your old toilet with a dual-stage flush toilet. Stage one, a low volume half flush, is for liquid wast. Stage two performs a full tank flush to wash away solid waste.

According to the EPA, letting your faucet run for five minutes uses as much energy as it takes to keep a 60-watt light bulb lit for 14 hours. By installing low-flow shower heads and faucets, water consumption associated with bathing will decrease by up to 70%, and you'll also use less energy heating up the water.

To add to your homes curb appeal, plant native and drought resistant plants that require less water and maintenance.

Even if your home already has a heating and cooling system, ceiling fans can maximize its effectiveness. In the summer, they can pull the warmer air up and away, and in the winter, push warmer air down.

For more information on selling or converting your eco-friendly home, contact your real estate agent and visit U.S Green Building Council for specific guidelines and resources.

Original article

Try Your Luck With Brooklyn Real Estate

There are many companies and agencies that have been operating in real estate in Brooklyn since 2002. The principle in this case, tells everyone to fight for not practicing treason. The principles also guide to follow and focus on customer interest and permanent professionalism and corporate culture and traditions. The observation of these principles many companies under the umbrella managed to become market leaders with a quality service. These companies under the umbrella brand full spectrum buying and selling.

Through years of selling and buying, all companies under the umbrella of successful completion of offers and earned many clients, experience, with a long-term equipment and personnel, the market recognition and won over market competition. The daily work of many new clients and agents led to the comfort zone growing industry. They learn to deal with personal and business buyers. The changes in approach and behavior according to the target as in any other industry. The only thing is that we believe our clients leave one of the most important decisions of his life in us therefore we need to do proper justice. The hardest part is to govern the customer's mind every time you want to make such a move. They believe in offering the highest level of service possible.

One of the main instruments used are mortgage rate trends, mortgage calculator and investment calculator. They specialize in the sale of Victorian houses, cooperatives, condominiums, investment, rent stone houses and serve as consultants for residential use. Once you become famous that good or bad news but it is difficult to remain hidden. Brooklyn is a convenient place for its proximity to Manhattan and its surroundings. It offers a great opportunity for stay at home. The average price has been reduced in Brooklyn last year. The approximate current award for new development here is 490 U.S. per square foot and the average price is 515000USD. There is also a single housing in certain areas.

There are a number of sites that have been successfully selling Brooklyn for years. In every real estate sees a lot of challenges and the same applies to real estate in Brooklyn. Real estate market is always easy to enter but hard to stay longer with the profits. Real estate market in the world anything goes in the direction of one or the other but the growth of one can be the downfall of others.

One of the main instruments used are mortgage rate trends, mortgage calculator and investment calculator. They specialize in the sale of Victorian houses, cooperatives, condominiums, investment, rent stone houses and serve as consultants for residential use. Once you become famous that good or bad news but it is difficult to remain hidden. Brooklyn is a convenient place for its proximity to Manhattan and its surroundings. It offers a great opportunity for stay at home. The average price has been reduced in Brooklyn last year. The current prize for a new development about here is $ 490 per square foot and the average price is 515000USD. There is also a single housing in certain areas.

There are a number of sites that have been successfully selling Brooklyn for years. In every real estate sees a lot of challenges and the same applies to real estate in Brooklyn. Real estate market is always easy to enter but hard to stay longer with the profits. Real estate market in the world anything goes in the direction of one or the other but the growth of one can be the downfall of others.

Amer i Homes Realty is the Top Realtor for staten island real estate. We will help you find the perfect home and providing a full range of services in the field of purchase and sale of real estate in Brooklyn and Staten island. For more details on brooklyn real estate please visit our website.

Original article

Construction And The Environment - Effects On Water

In this regard, we will consider the following types of water;

· Surface water: this refers to water appearing on the surface of earth. Examples here include rivers, lakes, oceans, swamps and so forth.

· Ground water: this refers to water appearing in the ground, also referred to as sub-surface water. It is usually contained in rocks known as aquifers and forms a level commonly known as water table. Water table is usually an intermittent and rises or falls depending on the amount available in the feeder for instance through percolation.

· Precipitation: this refers to the various forms in which water appearing in the atmosphere is availed to the ground. It takes the form of rainfall, dew, hail storms and the like.

A number of common construction activities can hamper the normal patterns of the said forms of water, consequently interfering with the normal form of nature. The following are ways in which this happens;

· Sinking wells for drawing water results to a lowered water table level. This, for example, strains the vegetation drawing water from the same, hampering their growth.

· Building extensive hard surfaces reduces the amount of water percolating into the ground, depriving it of subsurface water and resulting to a lowered water table.

· Clearing extensive tracts of land for construction activities reduces the levels of moisture in the atmosphere and currently reducing the rate of precipitation expected.

· Construction of water bodies like reservoirs deprives normal flow downstream, hampering the normal aquatic patterns. This could also lead to an increase in moisture in the air, resulting to more precipitation.

· Disposal of effluent from construction sites as well as built up areas into water bodies like rivers alter the ordinary quality of water, thereby changing the life supporting mechanism for aquatic life.

· Building of barriers like trenches will change the normal flow of surface run off, thereby altering the usual rates and patterns of percolation.

· Mass rain water harvesting whether in above ground or under ground tanks or reservoirs will also have similar effects.

While these are only examples, the truth is that construction has a remarkable effect on water patterns in the environment. This effect increases with increase in magnitude of construction work being undertaken as well as ignorance in limitative measures possible. It should therefore be a number one priority in every envisaged project to plan for ways of reducing tendencies of altering water patterns in our environment, for this directly affects the environment and all that it carries with it.

Kynyn Kamau wishes you good health, that is why we have tailor-made our blog just for you! Here you find mental health when you read our platinum level author ezine submissions on the live feed, Learn all about eating your way to a healthy body and learn a simple approach to a healthy financial status on our online business tutorial page! All this you find at See u there!

Original article

Have Bad Credit? How to Use FHA 203k to Purchase Distressed Real Estate

A hot topic here in Miami is distressed real estate. With all of the foreclosures and REO (real estate owned) properties on the market for sale, there are good deals to be had. The FHA 203k loan, sometimes called energy efficient mortgage or EEM for short, is a program that is available to help you purchase a distressed property and rehabilitate with energy-efficient "green" improvements.

It's no secret that many of the foreclosures or REO properties have deferred maintenance. So it's possible the electrical system does not work as it should, the hot water heater could leak, the air conditioner may need to be serviced or replaced with an energy efficient unit. Maybe the paint is dull and needs to be freshened up. All of these updates or repairs (and many more!) can be added into the cost of your mortgage, making your home more energy efficient and helping you to reduce your carbon footprint. Although there are tight lending guidelines that banks and lenders are required to follow, luckily enough there are still funds available to lend and bring these distressed properties back up to modern living standards with the FHA 203k loan. Even if you have less than perfect credit, FHA is on your side to help make your home ownership dream come true!

FHA loans are flexible when it comes to bad credit. If you have premature credit, FHA can approve a loan based on a single trade line and a single credit score, whereas conventional lending requires no less than two of the three credit scores. FHA is also great for first time home buyers who may have limited funds in the bank. The FHA 203k program allows buyers to put as little as 3.5 percent as a down payment (even though it's a good idea to put down more). Another bonus of FHA is that you may still qualify whether or not you can demonstrate consistent work history over the previous two consecutive years. FHA loans are really forgiving.

Even prospective borrowers with more seriously damaged credit still have hope. Those with judgments, liens, collections, foreclosures or bankruptcies, who are interested in taking advantage of the distressed real estate market may still reach home ownership dreams. Here are some guidelines to follow:

--Collections - Not all collection accounts will be required to be paid prior to closing. Each collection trade line will be reviewed on a case-by-case base. If the collection still shows on your credit report, satisfaction might be requested in order to remove the negative trade lines prior to closing.

--Bankruptcy - Chapter 7 discharge of bankruptcy should be two of more years from loan application and show reestablished credit on all recent trade lines. Chapter 13 must show at least 1 year of payments to the courts after the restructure. No late payments are allowed since the bankruptcy started.

--Foreclosure - Foreclosures will not disqualify you from obtaining a FHA loan. However, buyers must typically wait a minimum of three years from the foreclosure date prior to purchasing (possibly less if you have extenuating circumstances and have established good credit).

--Liens - Federal liens are not eligible, such as a tax lien. Liens must be paid off or at minimum, a repayment plan must be established. Federal loans, such as student loans cannot be delinquent and must be brought current prior to application.

So, if you have been daydreaming about taking advantage of a good deal in the Miami real estate market, chances are that you might be in a better position than you think. You don't need to be a bench warmer. You can play too!

Certified in Energy Efficient Mortgages | FHA 203k | Specializing in REO properties offering borrowers an opportunity rehabilitate the cost of energy-efficient "green" improvements.

Original article

15 Energy Efficient Tips For Your Home

The ideas listed here are are just some of the items that can be done to lessen your energy expenditures month in, month out. They have low or no fees and may be performed quickly to allow you to be secure, comfy all the while helping the environment and being economical. Share these with the whole family and try to get each person included.

1. Install a programmable thermostat in order to maintain your own home pleasantly heated in winter and adequately cool in the summertime.

2. Take advantage of compact fluorescent light bulbs using the ENERGY STAR® label.

3. Air dry the dishes as opposed to using your dishwasher's drying cycle.

4. Put off your PC and keep track of when not in use.

5. Connect home electronics, including TVs and DVD players, right into power strips; flip the power strips off if the products are not in take advantage of (TVs and DVDs in standby mode still employ several watts of power).

6. Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120°F.

7. Take short showers as opposed to baths.

8. Clean mainly full loads of the dishes and clothes. With clothing take advantage of cold water.

9. Drive shrewdly. Aggressive driving (racing, quick acceleration and braking) squanders gasoline

10. Check for the ENERGY STAR label on home appliances and merchandise.

11. Ensure your appliances and heating and cooling systems are correctly cared for. Check your owner's manuals for the suggested repair.

12. Search for open fireplace dampers and make certain they are closed when not in use.

13. Look at the insulation values in your attic, exterior and basement walls, ceilings, floors, and crawl spaces.

14. Look at for holes or cracks around your walls, ceilings, windows, doors, light and plumbing fixtures, switches, and electrical outlets that can leak air right into or out of your home.

15. You may also get the assistance of a professional. Many utilities execute energy audits for free or for a small charge. For a fee, a professional contractor will analyze how well your home's energy systems interact with each other and compare the analysis to your bills. He or she will making use of a variety of equipment such as blower doors, infrared cameras, and surface thermometers to find leaks and drafts. After gathering information about your home, the contractor or auditor offers you a list of recommendations for cost effective energy improvements and enhanced comfort and safety. A professional licensed contractor can even calculate the actual gain on your investment in high-efficiency products in contrast to normal equipment.

Original article

Construction And The Environment - Effects On Vegetation

Vegetation is among the clearest indicator of life in our environment (probably second to the animals). It is also a key pillar in the environmental dynamics especially the weather. Vegetation takes different forms and shapes and vary from one type of environment to the other. Construction activities affect vegetation in the following ways;

· Construction materials. Construction has drawn a lot from natural vegetation in the following forms;

o Timber: this is the most common material in construction, since time immemorial. This could either be used in its raw form for example in posts or in machined timber for example tongued and grooved panels for ceiling construction. Frames for structural work like roofing and timber walls are also a very common use of wood. Other machined forms, for example plywood are also very common in construction. The tricky thing with timber for construction is that the preferred timber comes from hardwoods, which are rare, hard to breed and take a long time to mature.

o Roof covering: reeds and such vegetation have for long been used in the form of thatch for roofing, mainly in informal settlements but also in motels and hotels, especially beach resorts.

o Furniture: Timber furniture has for long been the most preferred in houses. This has a big impact on trees as most are purely out of wood and especially hardwoods which are very hard to come by as previously explained.

· Clearance for settlements: large forests and other such vegetation's have been cleared for settlement activities, whether for purely construction work or in combination with other activities like farming.

· Importation of vegetation and soils: introduction of alien plants, especially for landscaping compounds also affects the environment by changing things like normal photosynthesis activities by normal plants. Importation of soils will also lead to the support of different kinds of vegetation, especially where this is supplemented with irrigation.

· Dumping of material: The disposal of material, whether waste or excess spoil, introduces a new formation on which new forms of vegetation are most likely to grow. This may also lead the death of the existing vegetation.

· Dewatering of land: This is common in swampy lands and is mostly done to ensure good compaction of earth.

Following these examples, it is clear to see just how extensively the activities of construction have impacted on vegetation and by extension, on our fragile environment. It is very important to ensure that whatever technologies that are adopted in construction projects are environmental friendly, by reducing impacts to the lowest possible levels.

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Malaysia - Top 5 Green Properties

Eco-friendly properties are gaining a lot of attention worldwide, and in Malaysia, the Green Building Index which is quite similar to LEED of the United States are setting up courses and standards to help architects and designers understand and use their brain powers to create buildings that are safe for the environment. While some companies may target the Frost & Sullivan Malaysia Green Excellence Awards, which is supported by ZDNet Asia, acknowledges some of the most distinguished property developers, others may seek for recognition by overseas awards for green buildings.

1. GTower

One of the buildings with international recognition as being a green building is GTower. It is a new working concept, which combines offices, a private club and a boutique hotel called the G City Club Hotel. The building is the first certified green building in the country and was awarded the BCA Green Mark (Singapore's Building & Construction Authority (BCA) Green Mark Scheme).

The building is constructed with the idea of cutting carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, maximizing energy and water efficiency and to provide high standards of indoor environmental quality. It was given Grade A++ by BCA. The first "plus" is for achieving an international standard of "environment-friendly" as defined by BCA Green Mark GOLD certification (provisional) and the second "plus" is for being a Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) compliant building and connectivity specifications.

2. KEN BANGSAR Serviced Residences

Ken Bangsar is the masterpiece of KEN HOLDINGS BERHAD, which is a reputable, award winning Green property developer. Its property division, KEN PROPERTY SDN BHD, was responsible to transform KEN BANGSAR into the Number 1 GREEN rated building in Malaysia, receiving the BCA Green Mark GOLD Plus award in July 2009. The GOLD Plus award was, at that time, the first and highest award for non-Singapore companies. In 2010, KEN BANGSAR was also announced as the winner of the Malaysian Green Building Index (GBI) Gold Award, recipient of The Edge's PAM Green Excellence Award 2010 and Best Green Developer 2010 title by New Straits Times.

The 15-storey luxury apartment is low density with only 80 units of freehold serviced residences at its dispense. Each unit is equipped with water storage heater, laminated Low-E glass and energy efficient air conditioning. The airy double volume lobby is kept cool and breezy by a system called CHEEL which recycles the condensate water from air-conditioning onto an evaporative feature wall. The heat pump harvest waste heat from the air cond units to produce hot water for the public washroom.

3. 1 First Avenue

1 First Avenue of Petaling Jaya with MSC Status is another "Green" property of the country. It is solely office buildings, certified as a Green Building by the Malaysian Green Building Index. It is a building with 25 stories of GRADE A office tower, strategically located in the Bandar Utama City Centre, just beside one of the biggest shopping mall in Bandar Utama, the 1 Utama Shopping Centre. The building has raised flooring for flexible provision of power supply, and a landscaped lobby at every single floor. It also has excellent ICT infrastructure, with dedicated power supply for secured IT UPS backup during power failure. It also has a dedicated secured telecommunication ducts.

4. Sunway Rymba Hills

Sunway City has always been trying to incorporate 'green' ideas into their projects, and by far Sunway Rymba Hills is probably the one with the most expectations to bring out the 'green' idea. As the name itself unfolds the idea of the residential properties, this Sunway City property attempts to embrace the Lifestyle Of Health And Sustainability (LOHAS) philosophy. It is a gated and guarded low density leasehold zero-lot bungalow, developed within a 6.5 acre of private forest park. It claims to use green building materials, and includes a reading room and informative labeling of plants and trees. The project claims 60% of green spaces overall, and some units will also enjoy a Sky Garden which is great for garden parties or converted to a private sanctuary for a little quiet time. It is located not in any faraway land, but in the embrace of the Sunway Damansara neighbourhood.

5. 11@ Mont Kiara

11@ Mont Kiara, or MK11 is a project by Sunrise Berhad, and is said to be the country's first residential property to gain the BCA Green Mark award. It is built on 6.7 acres of freehold land with 338 units within its three towers of luxury condominiums. The 43-storeys luxury condominium is located within the high-end Mont Kiara area, and incorporates energy and water efficient systems and beautiful landscapes. There are a lot of facilities in the project: a lap pool, children's playroom, multipurpose halls, air-conditioned gymnasium, water jet splash pool, wading pool, sawna, children's playground, badminton court, squash court, half basketball court and tennis court. is No. 1 Penang Property portal. This is the best place to start your Malaysia property search whether you are an investor, buying for your own, or looking to rent. At, you can find thousands of Penang apartment and condo for sale and rent with detailed information about each property, including maps and photos.

Original article

Green Building Products Will Get Your Buyers Attention - Success In The New Marketplace

The use of green building products even for remodeling have gained the attention of many in the past several years, what have been a challenge for most homeowners is knowing where to find eco-friendly building products. There are many companies that are promoting quote green and energy efficient Products, but do they really live up to their claims? Substantiating these claims would make it easy to know where to look.

Lumber is necessary building material in most projects and if used in the right way can produce a tremendous amount of energy and environmental savings.

Sustainable Lumber Products

· Dimensional Lumber
· Wood Flooring
· Plywood
· Paneling
· Cabinetry

Green building materials as mentioned above can be produced using diverse materials from different parts of the planet. The question is,How can the average homeowner tell whether these materials they're selecting are prepared properly? Firstly,there must be a FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certificate to give the homeowner the confidence that they're purchasing a legitimate environmentally friendly product. FSC is a non-profit organization and operates independently, their certification process offers the forestry professionals a higher level of social awareness and responsibility for the environment. This certification is important to the homeowners; because it identifies that the wood that was used has been harvested in accordance with the standards that have been set by the forestry management.

Green Interior Products

Because of some products such as flooring, countertops and cabinetry which are used from raw material can also be considered ecologically friendly, though they may not have a certificate labeled on them. This also includes an array of other interior finishing. Consider bamboo and cork, they're rated at the top when it comes to green building flooring products due to their renewable nature. Notwithstanding, these raw materials are grown in certain countries in the world which means the transportation fees would me astronomical. Also the glue that is use to put these products together will emit VOCs. So, a homeowner needs to consider carefully when selecting those interior finishing.

Recycled and Recyclable

The products that are getting a lot of attention today are the recyclables; the marketplace is full of them. They are namely carpets and wall-coverings. Shaw and Mohawk which are two large carpet manufacturers in the U.S have come up with a solution to recover used carpets for recycling by removing the backing from them. The Vinyl wall-covering companies have also got into the field of recycling by creating products of such nature. Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams are two paint companies that have given serious considerations to their product by developing products that give little fumes and toxins. Green building products are available it all depends on where you are in the world, for it differs in the region or country you belong, homeowners have many options.

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Original article

Going Green - Construction, Which the Environment Loves!

Sustainable building, green building, green construction or simply "going green" is a concept about eco-friendly construction. It involves the application of practices and technologies that are environmental friendly, right from the construction, to occupancy, maintenance, renovation and finally demolition. This concept first started rising in the '70s when concerns regarding harmful impacts of construction industry on environment, and its resources, started growing.

Although no international agreement is available regarding carbon reduction and eco-friendly construction, there are organizations present that are working for the sustainability of natural resources, toxic reduction, recycling, waste reduction and application of energy efficient practices etc, such as EPA in the US. The EPA requires the construction industry to design and build buildings with eco-friendly materials and methods. This is not the only reason why construction industry has started following green trends. Many environmental-concerned companies and individuals have started emphasizing on green building, when doing a new construction or renovation project in their homes, commercial properties or work places. This is a very good sign because it educates and encourages the construction industry to work towards developing new sustainable building techniques. The need of going green gets more imminent as a recent study shows that the Ozone layer had depleted by 40%, which is alarming.

The basic principles of sustainable building in new construction projects and retrofitted properties include:

· Efficient use of land, water, energy and other resources.
· Improving the health of everyone living in a building.
· Providing clean environment to increase employees' performance.
· Reducing pollution and other waste emission in the environment.
· Educating public about the need and merits of green building.
· Using local materials and manpower so as to avoid transportation cost of these brought from other towns and areas.

Not only it is important to derive methods for going green, it is equally important to use the present resources in an intelligent and efficient way.

Water Efficiency:

Two-third of the Earth consists of water, not all of it readily usable. It takes a lot of work and energy to make water usable which means there's a shortage of water and therefore, we need to use it efficiently. A popular way of maintaining the quality of water and reducing its usage is to use dual plumbing system, which recycles the water with every flush of the toilet. Low-flow showerheads and low-flush toilets can also increase water efficiency during the life cycle of a building.

Energy Efficiency:

There are a lot of ways to use energy efficiently. Few simple methods are to use light paint colors on the exterior and interior of the building. The exterior light colors will reflect sunrays and as a result the interior of the building will remain cool reducing the need of air conditioners and such. Interior light colors will also help reflect the natural light, which will reduce the cost and need of electric lighting. Modern insulation systems can also be installed in walls and floors to use the energy efficiently. Building can be designed with passive solar building ways that uses windows and walls to help shade the property in summers and provide natural light in the winters. Other ways to use energy efficiently are solar power, hydropower and wind power etc.

Material Efficiency:

Using material that are recyclable and re-usable is an important part of sustainable building. It involves using natural materials such as straw bale, clay and bamboo for the construction or renovation of the building.

Waste Reduction:

Compost bins are a great way to reduce waste emission by the occupants or work force in a building. Waste reduction can also be achieved by recycling the waste into fertilizers. Use of water instead of paper towels can also reduce waste going in the landfills. Some highly sophisticated waste reduction techniques can also be applied, but they may be a little costly.

We only have planet Earth to live on. We don't have any other place to go. We need to keep earth and our environment safe and healthy, and Earth's natural resources sufficient for our generations to come. We've already harmed the Earth enough. Now is the time to go green.

Ali Bhutta of AB Contractors NY, a leading General Contractors firm in New York City, New York is an expert on all related market trends and can help you with every step of your construction project.

Original article

Ground Source Heat Pumps And Your Homes

If you own a house or are in the market for one, then you should definitely consider ground source heat pumps. To make your house truly green, it is certainly one of your bert options. Here is some crucial information about them.

What is a ground source heat pump?

This uses this source of energy to heat and cool a particular region. It accesses the geothermal energy from the ground. To implement this system, the pump is positioned within 10 feet of the surface of the Earth. The temperature range of the area is constantly between 50°-61° Fahrenheit, (or 10°-16° Celsius). As a result, the pump is able to heat your house throughout the wintertime, and cool it throughout the summertime.

How is a ground source heat pump constructed?

The process is quite basic. First, polyethylene or copper piping is positioned underneath the ground. The next step is to use a refrigerant to fill the piping. The heat pump moves the fluid throughout the piping. As that happens the ground warms or cools it, causing the temperature in your house to stabilize throughout the process of direct exchange.

What are its main types?

The two main varieties are water-to-water transfer, and water-to-air transfer. Water-to-water systems are like standard boilers, and involve the heating of water pipes that exist in a building. Meanwhile, water-to-air pumps function like standard air-conditioners. They function by using the ground source heat pump's heating and cooling parts, to change the air's temperature via ventilation.

What is its environmental impact?

That is a crucial question if you are a current or future homeowner. One of the most noteworthy benefits is that it is a fantastic method for going green. For instance, because no chemicals or fuel is needed for the heating or cooling process--the impact on the environment is almost zilch. In fact, research shows that an "average" home can save 5,500 tons of carbon emissions, by choosing ground source heat pump systems.

How expensive is this?

The answer is somewhat complicated. In fact, the initial cost of the actual ground source heat pump is somewhat pricey. However, the operational costs are much lower compared to different HVAC systems. Basically, the cost of the system's power will determine the amount of savings that you can enjoy by using it. Those costs differ throughout the world. That said the operating costs are generally low enough that they can quickly compensate for the high initial costs of the system.

Are there ways to reduce the start-up costs?

In fact, many governments throughout the world offer subsidies for homeowners who install such systems within a particular timeframe.

Can this become a DIY project?

Typically, it will not be, due to the amount of skills, and the types of tools needed to install them. So it is advisable to be on the safe side and have a trained professional handle the installation.

These questions show why a ground source heat pump is certainly worth considering for your home.

Original article

Tips For Buying an Eco-Friendly Home

Buying an eco-friendly home is not as difficult as you might think, and in the long run it can save you a lot of money, as well as having less of an impact on the environment. An eco-friendly home is one that is energy efficient and saves you money, but it also can mean it is a home made from recycled materials and one that makes much better use of space. When buying an eco-friendly home you will still need to consider the same things that you do when buying a normal home, such as going through the right channels to borrow money and paying additional fees like stamp duty and conveyancing fees.

Building methods

You can start thinking eco-friendly even before you start building the home. Choose an architect that is familiar with eco-friendly homes and have them design a home that is suitable for your block. Think about creating a home that takes up less land space, leaving as much room for trees and plants as possible. Leave room around the home for water tanks and a vegetable garden. Think about where on your block you build the home too. Make sure it is in a position so you can make use of natural light, and it is facing a direction so you get the warmth of the sun to increase the energy efficiency.

Building materials

You can even be eco-friendly with your choice of building materials. Any timber in your home should be recycled from other sources. You will find that you can buy bricks from homes that are being torn down. You could also choose to build with eco-friendly materials like mud or stones, or even build a straw bale home.

Energy efficient

One of the main purposes of your home is for it to be energy efficient. Make sure that it is well insulated so it stays warm in winter and cooler in summer. You can also put in double glazed windows and have solar panels installed so you rely on the sun to power your home. Solar power can also heat your water so you can save on gas as well as electricity. Solar panels are not as expensive as they used to be and many new homes that aren't eco-friendly are being built with solar panels to heat their water.


Within your home you can be more eco-friendly by choosing the right appliances. When you buy a dishwasher, washing machine, fridge or even a clothes dryer you will see the energy rating listed on the item through a star rating system. The more stars an item has the more energy efficient it is. You can also buy dishwashers and washing machines that use less water. You can also be more energy efficient when lighting your home by choosing to use power saving light bulbs. Another way to be eco-friendly is to watch your energy consumption, so turn off lights in rooms that are not in use, switch appliances off at the wall and don't heat or cool rooms you are not using. Having blinds or curtains on your windows will help keep your house warm in winter and block out the heat in summer.

By the way, do you want to learn more about Real Estate? If so, I suggest you check Conveyancing and Conveyancing Fees.

Original article

How Technology Is Really Helping Us Become More Sustainable

I'm a technology lover like many people are. I love my smart phone and laptop and just about anything else that has technology and is useful. Everybody has that inner Geek in them to some level. You might have noticed that technology products have become more efficient in their energy use. Companies brag and advertise about how their product uses less energy and has a longer battery life because they are aware that consumers are looking for that, not necessarily because its "green", but because it makes sense financially and is more convenient to use. Who would want a product that uses more energy instead of one that uses less?

Solar panels area a great examples of how technology has helped us be more sustainable. With the improved technology and with the help of sustainable architects, they have been specified more frequently, have become more efficient, and have also become far cheaper than they used to be. Clear glass can even be used a solar panel with advances in technology. Some cars even have an optional solar panel on the roof that operates a fan when your car is parked in order to prevent it from getting too hot inside. Who wouldn't want that technology and convenience in their car?

One invention that Sustainable Architect is really impressed with is the BloomBox. We are in no way whatsoever affiliated with BloomBox or its manufacturer, however it is the product that we feel is closest to being ready for mass production. A fuel cell of this kind, which can be as small as a stack of DVD cases can actually power a whole house and keep it off of the grid, saving the homeowner money and also making them less dependent. When this becomes popular, it could actually be the end for coal-burning power plants, which pollute a tremendous amount. Energy could be provided to homes wherever they are located, independent of their proximity to the electricity grid. We believe that as products like these become more marketable, hundreds of similar products will be developed. This will increase availability, reduce the price and make society as a whole more sustainable. It will also create an incredible amount of job and financial opportunities.

At one point in time, people proclaimed that we would put a man on the moon and they were mocked and ridiculed. With a lot of technology and determination, it happened. If we can put a man on the moon, just imagine what we can do with technology? We can have all of the gadgets, convenience and comfort we want and be very sustainable.

Sustainable Architect is a public blog and source for Sustainable Architecture information created and maintained by Teche, an architecture firm based in San Diego. is the web address of the blog which contains a host of useful information on sustainable architecture.

Original article

Investing in Missouri Countryside

Either for residential purpose or hunting, ranching and recreation, countryside land in the state of Missouri is perceived by many as a worthwhile investment. Far from the city rush, you can enjoy a tranquil and peaceful atmosphere surrounded by scenic beauty.

Missouri is a gem of a state. Blessed by nature with mountains, dense forests, lush plains, rivers and abundant wildlife, the state of Missouri is situated in the Midwestern part of the United States. It shares its border with eight states including Iowa in the north, Arkansas in the south, Illinois in the east and Kansas in the west.

The state has some really beautiful places and living there is dreams come true for any nature lover. Either for residential purpose or hunting, ranching and recreation, rural land in Missouri is perceived by many as a worthwhile investment. And why not? For one, land for sale in Missouri is available at an affordable price. And being still undeveloped, the region presents a great potential for high returns in future.

What are the ideal places to invest in Missouri? In fact, there are several extracts of excellent rural land on sale in Missouri. Among others, Barnes Hollow which is an absolutely gorgeous place with an abundant natural beauty is highly sought after by a number of buyers. It has parks, conservation areas, rivers and lakes. Antler Ridge, located in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, is another choice you have. Indian Creek and Whispering Oak Ranch beside others can offer you the opportunity to live a casual country lifestyle. If you love adventure and being closer to nature, you will enjoy what the mountains, dense forests and rolling plains of this region have to offer. It is perfect for your camping or hunting trip, hiking, horseback riding, and bird watching and biking. The beauty of this region is incomplete without its rivers, lakes and ponds. You can go for fishing, swimming, floating, rafting or canoeing.

Missouri offers one of the most captivating landscapes in the United States, enabling you to peacefully reside far from the busy streets and careless honking of vehicles, which is so inextricably associated with the city life. Anytime you wish, you can also go for recreation such as swimming, floating, rafting, camping, tubing and canoeing. You would get to enjoy a tranquil atmosphere that is just not possible in hectic city lifestyle. Offering splendid landscape and plentiful wild life, Missouri is a place tailored by nature for fun-filled outdoor activities.

When looking for country land in Missouri, take into account what exactly you expect from it. If you want to use the land for raising livestock, you can purchase grasslands with a water source. For using the property for hunting, buying forest land will be better. The level of accessibility to the land must also be taken into account. Also consider the services available in the region such as availability of electricity, water supply and road access.

Whether you want to build a beautiful house to complement the scenic beauty of the surrounding and settle down permanently, spend a month long holiday or you are looking for investment opportunity in country land, Missouri is the perfect place. Identify the best land for sale in Missouri to fulfill your dream.

The author of this article is associated with Classic Country Land, a real estate company that offers mountain land for sale on affordable rates

Original article

LED Lighting Tax Aspects of Furniture Chains

The 2008 collapse of the U.S. housing market had a particularly damaging effect on the domestic furniture industry. A virtual freeze on new and existing home purchases resulted in a drastic decline in sales for furniture chains who, prior to the collapse, dominated the industry primarily by selling foreign-made furniture. The furniture industry has largely evolved into an import model where huge warehouses store the furniture that is then sold in retail show rooms. Some major brands use large, warehouse-like structures as their retail facilities. As the economy continues to improve, these companies will be able to realize significant energy cost savings and very large EPAct tax deductions by installing LED lighting in their showrooms along with energy-efficient lighting and heaters in their distribution centers.

Large store showrooms looking to showcase their furniture can use LED's for focused lighting, while huge warehouses that hold the furniture before it reaches retail storefronts can realize tremendous operating cost reductions by installing LED's or other energy-efficient lighting. While each of these building types involves a distinct planning process with different tax implications, LED lighting can drive large tax deductions for all furniture chain facilities.

The Section 179D EPAct Tax Opportunities

Pursuant to Energy Policy Act (EPAct) Section 179D, furniture chains making qualifying energy-reducing investments in their new or existing locations can get immediate tax deductions of up to $1.80 per square foot.

If the building project doesn't qualify for the largest EPAct $1.80 per square foot immediate tax deduction, there are tax deductions of up to $0.60 per square foot for the three major building subsystems: lighting, HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning), and the building envelope. The building envelope is every item on the building's exterior perimeter that touches the outside world including roof, walls, insulation, doors, windows and foundation.

Alternative Energy Tax Credits and Grants

Pursuant to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, there are multiple 30% or 10% tax credits available for a variety of alternative energy measures with varying credit termination dates. For example, the 30% solar tax credit and the 10% geothermal heat pump tax credit expire January 1, 2017.

All alternative measures that are eligible for the 30% and 10% tax credits are also eligible for equal cash grants for the three years staring January 1, 2009 and ending December 31, 2011.

Unique 2011 Opportunity: Enhanced Bonus Tax Depreciation

Solar P.V. and geothermal systems are ordinarily eligible for 5-year MACRS depreciation, but building owners who install these systems after September 8, 2010 through December 31, 2011 can take 100% depreciation tax bonus immediately. Even if building owners miss this 2011 window, they can enjoy a 50% tax depreciation bonus on equipment placed in service from January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012.

The Tax Planning Implications for Furniture Chains

Showrooms and EPAct 179D

LED lighting is excellent for presenting furniture because it provides a high-powered, focused beam ideally suited for showroom floors. The shopper is naturally drawn to the furniture because of the LED's spotlighting effect. For this reason, the Ashley Furniture showroom in Boca Raton, Florida has opened one of the first furniture stores seeking LEED certification for its inclusion of, among other things, LED lighting. Since this store is nearly 100,000 sq. ft. large, it will be eligible for up to $60,000 in tax deductions for lighting alone, and potentially greater EPAct deductions for qualifying HVAC equipment and building envelope measures. Indeed, as part of its plan to seek LEED certification, Ashley installed high-performing, low-emitting glass with automatic shades that conserve energy and rooftop solar tubes at its Boca site. A qualified professional can convert Ashley's required LEED energy model into an EPAct tax model.

Warehouse Lighting and EPAct 179D

Building lighting comprises a large part of furniture warehouse energy use. Most warehouses that have not had a lighting upgrade to energy-efficient lighting in the last 7 or 8 years use earlier generation metal halide or T-12 fluorescent lighting. It is important to realize that effective January 1, 2009, most probe-start metal halide lighting may no longer be manufactured or imported into the United States and, effective July 1, 2010, most T-12 lighting may no longer be manufactured or imported into the United States. This means that warehouses that still have older lighting technology will soon be, or already are, subject to large price increases for replacement lamps and bulbs.

This earlier generation T-12 and metal halide lighting is energy-inefficient compared to today's T-8 and T-5 lighting, and a lighting retrofit can easily cut lighting electricity costs by 40 to 60 percent. In addition to large energy cost reductions from upgrading basic building lighting, most warehouses undergoing lighting retrofits install sensors that completely shut off lighting in portions of the warehouse that are not in use. Previously, many warehouse owners and lighting specialists were reluctant to install sensors because they reduced fluorescent lamp useful life. Today, with improved technology, sensors are available with warranties that protect against reduction in lamp useful life. In the furniture warehouse business, sensors will prove particularly useful because warehouses only need intermittent illumination. Combined with flourescent, induction or, increasingly, LED lighting, sensors are a vital consideration to any furniture warehouse operator.

Warehouse Heating and EPAct 179D

New, improved commercial heating systems can give energy cost savings of 8 percent or more over the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) 2001 building code standards. There are multiple heater technologies suitable for the furniture warehouse market, including Cambridge direct fired gas heaters, unit heaters, and infrared (e.g. radiant) heaters. If it can be done, the warehouse heater could mount on an exterior wall to optimize the roof top space for a solar P.V. roof top system.

Typical Large Furniture Warehouses Obtain Large Tax Deductions

Many large warehouses have made the investments necessary to get the full $1.80 per square foot EPAct tax deduction. Since the EPAct tax deductions relate to square footage, a 500,000 square foot furniture warehouse can secure a $900,000 EPAct tax deduction.

IKEA's Pioneering Solar Projects

IKEA uses large integrated warehouse/retail facilities to directly sell furniture. The Swedish company has recently announced that it will install solar P.V. in some of its stores in Colorado, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. By taking advantage of its enormous, flat rooftops on its facilities, IKEA will be able to generate enough kilowatt-hours to power its own stores' lighting and HVAC needs with energy left over to sell to utilities. Further, they are making the ideal use of their solar investment by installing highly energy-efficient geothermal heating systems and LED lighting. Geothermal typically generates large EPAct 179D tax deductions, especially when coupled with LED lighting. As noted above, the geothermal system will also be eligible for a 10% tax credit or grant and very favorable tax deprecation.

The New York Market

New York City has experienced a quicker economic recovery than the rest of the country, and furniture chains are acting now to try to capitalize on the city's momentum. Cleveland-based Arhaus Furniture; Nadeau Corp., a West Coast-based seller of eclectic furnishings; and discounter Home Goods, a division within TJX, are all newcomers to the NYC scene and each is hoping to take advantage of the heightened demand than has often forced homeowners and renters into the suburbs to shop for their furniture. With the opening of 20,000 to 40,000 square foot retail centers, these companies have the opportunity to use LED lighting, and, in some locations, solar P.V., in their building design to drive down their operating expenses while utilizing large tax incentives.

Furniture Warehouse Tax Incentivized Energy-Efficient Design Process Steps

1. Assemble team including warehouse experts for EPAct tax incentives, utility rebates, lighting, heater, building envelope and solar energy.

2. See if roof is compatible for solar and heater. Obtain proposals for installations of solar installations and any other needed roof/insulation projects and any other needed roof/insulation projects.

3. Obtain lighting design that replaces all inefficient lighting. Compare and contrast costs of fluorescent, induction and LED lighting alternatives.

4. Obtain Cambridge heater or alternative heater proposals, taking into account possible roof designs.

5. Determine utility rebate based on all proposed separate and joined energy-efficient measures. Efficient lighting will cut electric use. Roof, insulation and heater will cut "therms."

6. Determine tax incentives including EPAct Section 179D tax deduction benefit and solar credit tax deductions. EPAct is based on total project square footage, including mezzanines and pick and pack modules. The 30-percent solar tax credit is based on the total solar material and installation costs.

7. Prepare project proposal detailing project costs, energy savings, utility rebates and tax incentives.

8. Get project approved by building owner.

9. Hire contractors and execute project.

10. Have EPAct tax expert prepare model and tax documentation using IRS approved software.

11. Process utility rebates.

12. Reduce federal and state estimated tax payments to account for expected large EPAct tax deductions and credits.

13. Celebrate tax-enhanced energy-efficient warehouse achievement


U.S. furniture industry supply chain structures are ideally situated for LED lighting particularly in showrooms and integrated warehouse show rooms. Since EPAct tax savings relates to square footage, the industry's large facilities drive large tax deductions. The required warehouses are typically large, flat roof structures that are ideal for solar P.V. Achieving energy reduction enhanced with tax savings will help this very competitive industry accelerate its recovery concurrently with overall economic recovery.

Charles R. Goulding, Attorney/CPA, is the President of Energy Tax Savers, Inc., The EPAct 179D Experts, an interdisciplinary tax and engineering firm that specializes in the energy-efficient aspects of buildings.

Spencer A. Marr is an Analyst with Energy Tax Savers, Inc., The EPAct 179D Experts.

Original article

Irrigation Audits - Fact Based Irrigation Management

Properly done irrigation audits (in accordance with standards recommended by the Irrigation Association) collect a wide variety of data about an irrigation system. While all of this data provide insight on the status of an irrigation system, there are two measurements or calculations of especially high importance in an irrigation audit. Each of these calculations are determined at an irrigation valve or station level and are based on the amount of water collected in each catch can.

One of these measurements in an irrigation audit is distribution uniformity or DU. In simple terms, DU is just a value that indicates how evenly or unevenly water is applied to the landscape. Unevenly distributed water results in either wet spots or dry spots. However, this is not always visually obvious so the DU is the means by which this problem can be discovered.

The second of these irrigation audit measurements is precipitation rate. This value measures the amount of water applied per unit of time and it is usually calculated in inches per hour or centimeters per hour. As mentioned in an earlier article, it is crucial that the dimensions of the catch cans are the same. This will ensure that a good, solid precipitation rate can be determined. While a given station will have a few dozen catch cans, the precipitation rate calculated is essentially the average precipitation rate for the entire station.

The importance of the precipitation rate in an irrigation audit is in how the precipitation rate compares to the type of soil that water is absorbed into. How quickly water is absorbed into the ground depends on the type of soil. Some soils readily take in water while other types absorb water far more slowly.

Once the precipitation rate is calculated for a particular station and the type of soil is known for that same station, the irrigation audit will inform the interested parties how that particular station irrigation should be set up so that water is applied in a manner that allows it absorb into the soil. Not knowing this could result in a station running water too long for the soil to take in and water simply puddling or running off on the surface. That is wasted water.

Conversely, some soils require a longer sustained application of water in order to sufficiently penetrate the soil surface and reach the root zone of the grass or shrubs. Not doing so is another, but less obvious, way water is wasted. Water is applied but instead of running off it enters the soil but that is it. It does not reach the ultimate goal of the plant roots.

An irrigation audit tries to remove as much subjectivity and guesswork as possible in scheduling an irrigation system. Guessing is the common way that irrigation schedules are typically set up. However, a well done irrigation audit provides an opportunity for facts to dictate an irrigation schedule instead of vague rules of thumb.

Beighley Associates has provided expert landscape design services for over 30 years. With licenses in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, Beighley Associates serves residential, commercial and governmental clients throughout the Pacific Northwest. Find out how to contact BAI with your landscape design needs that a longtime Portland landscape architect like BAI can meet and exceed.

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Why Choose an Eco-Building?

An Eco-building is a building which has been designed to minimise its impact on the environment. This can be achieved in many ways;

Sustainability of the materials it is constructed fromEnergy EfficiencyImpact on the environment in the event of demolition of the building

Sustainability of Materials

An eco-building should be constructed from materials which are demonstrably responsibly sourced and, if possible, renewable. So we need to think about where the materials have come from and if they can be replaced.

Certain materials traditionally used, such as stone are clearly naturally occurring - but not immediately renewable - and have an obvious impact on the environment when extracted.

Bricks are made from naturally occurring clay, but again have an obvious impact during extraction of the clay and a less widely known impact through the bi-product of fluorine which is a highly reactive element that is dangerous to humans.

Many options- but the only truly sustainable, renewable and natural construction material is timber. Timber has been used in construction for centuries and ancient timber buildings can be found throughout the world: particularly in Scandinavian countries.

By using timber in your green building, not just in the frame of the building, but for the internal and external walls as well you can be confident in a truly sustainable building envelope.

Look for FSC and PEFC certification to confirm sustainable sourcing.

Energy Efficiency

As the cost of energy increases and potential for shortages in the future grows, an eco-building will ensure that energy use is minimised in order to reduce ongoing costs and, if possible, dependency.

High levels of insulation are a must: the "U" values of your new building should be checked to ensure that lost energy is being minimised. The "U" values will often be shown against different elements of the building such as windows, flooring cassette or walls. Make sure that there are no weak spots. If you have selected a wooden building such as MPL (Machine Profile Log) then low "U" values such as 0.16W/m²K for the roof and windows potentially as low as 1.0W/m²K will be an obvious attraction.

Good natural light has multiple benefits: financially it will help reduce energy bills, however, more important are the personal benefits as sunlight not only improves mood but general health and well-being and is even proven to kill germs within the furniture and building. Your eco-building should give opportunities for sun-tubes and roof lights to help increase the natural light especially in corridors.

Ventilation is also an important consideration in your new eco-building. Avoid expensive cooling systems and ensure that there is adequate passive ventilation. Such simple options as opening windows and electronically operated roof lights can help to ensure that there is good air-flow. Make a good choice of sustainable materials ie timber log walling: wood is able to better regulate humidity than artificial materials and does not retain any electro-static charge. This is of benefit in particular to allergy sufferers which account for approximately 1:4 of the population.

Don't forget - insulation works both ways keeping summer heat out as well as winter heat in!

Impact on the environment after demolition

Depending on the choice of sustainable building the lifespan will vary. An MPL wooden building will typically last well in excess of 80 years. The larch cladding alone will last 60 - 80 years without treatment. Eventually, almost all buildings come to an end of their natural life, whether through degradation of materials of advances in construction and design making them obsolete. You need to make sure that your new eco-building will not be a burden to the next generation.

Check to see that the materials offer a sensible option for re-cycling. Brick and block can be crushed for hardcore on other building projects - but this tends to only happen on larger sites, otherwise it is potential landfill as it is expensive to transport. Steel and glass can be re-cycled and re-made but it is likely to be only a small element of the construction. Plaster from demolition almost always ends up in landfill. Timber is 100% recyclable and at the very least will always be in demand for fuel: which is a growing market and certain to be required even when the building itself is no longer.

When looking for an eco-building, look for a timber building. Timber is the only natural construction product which is traditional, sustainable and renewable. An MPL timber buildings from Cabinco are energy efficient, ecological and economic. For more information visit our website at

Original article

Sustainable Building for Education

Sustainable building is now high on the agenda. There is currently social, political, and legislative pressure to ensure that any new school buildings are seen as "sustainable". This is a part of your drive to be an Eco-School. This includes any shelters and gazebos, as well as new classrooms.

With so much to think about whilst primarily focused on budget and deadlines, how can you ensure that your school building is truly sustainable, and causes minimum impact on the environment through manufacture, construction, life span; and, at the very end of its life, demolition. Our recommendation would be to choose timber for sustainability, and off-site manufacture for budget and speed of delivery.

Timber is the planet's only natural, renewable, recyclable construction material: it has been used in construction for many thousands of years. Now with FSC or PEFC certification you can be confident in its sourcing as well.

In order to keep the focus on the budget at the same time as sustainability, we would suggest you look at off-site manufacture: buildings which are factory prepared prior to delivery to site, and consequently provide large savings on construction costs through reduced build periods and site disruption: systems such as Cabinco's MPL shell buildings. The logs are precision factory engineered and then delivered to site ready for speedy, accurate, construction of an individually designed sustainable building.

The larger the proportion of timber in your new school building, the more chance of a fully recyclable building envelope. Timber does not have to be restricted to just the outer skin which gives the appearance of sustainability, but can extend to the inner walls, floors, windows, doors, roof structure and even the final roofing material through such options as cedar shingles. A solid wood solution.

Checklist for Sustainable Buildings

Sustainable sourcing of materialsNoise, Odour & dust during constructionWaste to landfill during manufacture and constructionMaintenance and energy required during use of the buildingRecyclability after the end of the building's natural life.Overall Carbon Footprint

Carbon Footprint

The carbon footprint is an assessment of the impact of the school building on the environment. It looks at all aspects of the processes involved in delivering your built solution in great detail, and includes such things as the energy used in manufacture, where that energy comes from, whether it is renewable energy; energy used in transportation of materials, including the fuels used; construction phase energy and waste; in service energy consumption; and, finally, end of life energy use - or NOT in the case of timber, which can be reused as fuel.

Research shows that timber buildings have the lowest whole life carbon footprints of all.

A company with a real focus on supplying sustainable buildings will provide all this information on its website. Cabinco is award winning expert in designing and constructing sustainable school buildings and eco-schools throughout the UK. Visit the website for more details.

Original article