Growing A Greener Outer Banks NC

January 17, 2011

Attic Insulation Saves You Money

Filed under: Tips — Tags: , , — 4x4RE @ 10:55 am

As many people across the country are seeing their energy bills go up this winter it’s good to remember that spending BIG money on newer, more efficient furnaces might not be their only option. One more cost effective thing to do first would be to check for proper insulation in their attics.I have been on many home inspections where their might not have been enough installed to do a good enough job, and a few where sections of the attic had no insulation at all.

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

Copyright 2011 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®

January 13, 2011

GREEN REAL ESTATE PREDICTIONS FOR 2011

Filed under: community, environment, News — Tags: , , , , , , , — 4x4RE @ 12:06 pm

I came just came across an interesting article by Jim Simco, and I thought I would share it.

GREEN REAL ESTATE PREDICTIONS FOR  2011

by Jim Simcoe

In less than 24 hours 2010 will be over and a new year of real estate investment opportunities and challenges will begin. In regards to green real estate, here are my predictions for 2011 (in no order):

1.  Green Value will replace Green Hype.  2010 was the last year we’ll see people largely  add green elements to their projects just for the heck of it.  Value is starting to trump hype (even in California) and that trend will continue on 2011. Investors/buyers/homeowners won’t pursue green unless they have a fairly accurate prediction of the ROI.

2.  In green building certification circles, Energy Star overtakes LEED.  LEED has always been the 800 pound gorilla in the green building certification market.  However the actual value to the end user/buyer of a LEED certified building is beginning to wane.  LEED costs more, takes longer and is more paperwork intensive than Energy Star.  LEED is a clunky old PC running Windows 3.1. Energy Star is an iPad.

3. ROI measurement becomes easier for investors. New technologies and data on recent projects make it much easier for an investor to project the return on any green building method/equipment.  For example, a few years ago it was difficult to quantify the true cost savings on utility bills (and thus value to an end buyer) of blowing closed cell insulation into walls. You’d get a range, say between 30-70% savings.  Not exactly a great way to forecast. Now with a few quick calculations and a cursory knowledge of building envelop design you can get to a very accurate projection, often within 10%.

4.  Opportunity is rapidly becoming obligation.  I’ve written about this before but it is getting more prevalent now.  Sellers/Property Owners (investors or not) are getting squeezed by 2 distinct groups.  First, City/State/Federal legislators who are increasingly enacting green building codes for new AND existing buildings. Second, buyers/renters who are becoming more ‘green’ educated and are demanding more green features.  Both groups are putting added pressure on investors to address green in their projects.

5.  Green products-faster, cheaper, more abundant.  More than ever there are a plethora of green building products on the market.  These products are often higher quality and lower priced than their non-green competitors.  For real estate investors this couldn’t have come at a better time. You can now green a project without having to overspend on materials or equipment.

6.  In 2010, approximately 40%* of your target market (buyers/renters) understood the value of paying more for green homes/apartments and were willing to pay a premium for those amenities.  That number should double in 2011.  It has become much easier for buyers/renters to see the quantifiable difference in value of buying/renting a green home vs. a traditional home. It now makes more sense to get a green home than not.

*Based on a very unscientific study of what I’ve observed in the last year as I’ve worked on projects all over the US.

Source: The Bigger Pockets Blog

January 9, 2011

North Carolina’s Future: Offshore Drilling & Wind Farms

Filed under: environment, News — Tags: , , , , , , — 4x4RE @ 11:49 am

Tell the Governor What You Think About Offshore Drilling, Wind Farms

North Carolinians have an opportunity to tell Gov. Beverly Purdue what they think about offshore drilling, wind farms and other energy issues that could affect the N.C. coast. The Governor’s Scientific Advisory Panel on Offshore Energy will hold three meetings along the coast next week.  The purpose of the meetings is to get the public’s input on a variety of energy topics affecting the coast. The meetings are set for:

  • Jan. 10: UNC-Wilmington Nursing Building, Room 1051, 4 p.m.
  • Jan. 11: UNC Institute of Marine Sciences, Morehead City, 5 p.m.
  • Jan. 12: Dare County Administration Building, Manteo, 4 p.m.

Appointed in 2009, the panel is scheduled to report its findings in September… read more

Consider attending one of the meetings or submit written comments to the panel. It’s an issue that is very important to the future of our coast.

December 15, 2010

December Green Action Tips

Filed under: environment, global, Recycle Projects, Tips — Tags: , , , , , , , — 4x4RE @ 2:06 pm

Top 5 tips to green your Holiday Season

Posted by Murielle in Health, Sustainable living, 9 Dec 2010

I love Christmas and the Holiday Season! As soon as the days start to shorten and the temperature starts to drop, I start dreaming of fairy lights, Christmas trees and snow-white postcard-like panoramas. Then I start feeling guilty for all the generated waste, energy abuse and cut-down trees this season brings about. So in the jolly spirit of the season, and with a feeling of thanks and gratitude towards nature and the beauty of our planet in the back of my head, here is a top 5 list to green your Holiday Season.

1) Choose a real Christmas tree over an artificial one
There is no doubt that a real Christmas tree is better for the environment than an artificial one. Artificial trees have heavy carbon footprints. Most of the trees are manufactured in Asia and will require a lot of energy for transport to European or American stores. The trees are made of metal, plastic and materials that are not biodegradable. Manufacturing the trees is also heavy on the environment and releases toxic chemicals into the atmosphere.

A real tree is carbon neutral (the tree absorbs as much carbon dioxide during it’s growth as it will emit when burned or left to decompose) and does not contain any toxic chemicals. If you have the choice, go for a real Christmas tree with roots. After the Holidays you can plant the tree and even reuse it the next year. Another cool option, although maybe too late for this year, might be to grow your own tree.

2) Go for compostable Christmas decorations
Try to avoid plastic or non-recyclable decorations at all costs. They can’t be recycled and there are much better ways to give your home a Christmas feeling. House decorations and decorations for the Christmas tree can be made from organic material. Why not try tree branches, pine cones or leaves? And throw some beautiful Christmas flowers and some mistletoe in? To decorate your tree, look in your kitchen cabinet. You’ll find that dough and a little bit of creativity can make wonders. Popcorn, gingerbread and cinnamon sticks are perfect too. And after the Holiday Season, all your Christmas decorations will be fully compostable.

3) Give eco-friendly gifts or do some good while giving
This year, instead of going for the carbon loaded gifts shops are already piling up with, consider going for something completely different. Many gifts don’t require any carbon emissions or manufacturing like the sponsoring of animals, donations to environmental or other non-profit organizations, planting a tree and much more. If you prefer to go for ‘real’ gifts you could consider giving away activities. IOU’s for a day in the park, a hiking get-away or any other (eco-friendly) activity you would like others to enjoy are a great alternative and gift. Theater, concert or movie tickets are a good option too as are vouchers for electronic items like music or movie downloads.

4) Consider alternatives for Christmas cards
Millions of trees worldwide are cut down every year just to provide us with Christmas cards. Although I’m a big fan of them myself, there are green alternatives that make a big difference. One option is to send recycled Christmas cards, or to go entirely electronic and send e-cards instead. Many Christmas cards support non-profit organizations or causes. If you can’t do without the traditional cards, why not do some good at the same time and offset your paper use by planting a tree?

After the holidays, there are many things you can do with your Christmas cards. You can use them to create fun collages with your kids, keep them in an album or frame the nicest ones. If you are not a Christmas card keeper, remember to recycle them the right way. Paper cards go in the paper bin; mixed cards (paper and plastic or any other material) are recycled in parts and in their respective recycle bins.

5) Reduce, reuse and recycle your Christmas dinner
Christmas dinner is so much fun, but it produces so much waste! Before, during and after your dinner consider these easy steps to reduce, reuse and recycle your waste as much as possible.

Reduce/ Don’t make too much food; it will end up in the waste bin anyway. Try to be conscious about the food you will be serving. An organic turkey is a good option, as are organic products from local stores or farmers’ markets.

Reuse/ Don’t use plastic dishes or paper napkins, here again they will only end up in the waste bin and they are not biodegradable. Instead, go for the real deal. Grandmother’s dishes, wine glasses and fabric napkins. After dinner try to stack as much as possible in the dishwasher and go for an eco-friendly program. If you don’t own a dishwasher, get some family members together and do the dishes by hand. It’s a fun and eco-friendly time for sharing some family gossip.

Recycle/ After your Christmas dinner compost your food waste and recycle any other waste (wine bottles, soda cans…) appropriately.

If you follow these tips you’ll have a wonderfully eco-friendly Holiday Season. One to remember and to be proud of!

 

 

October 17, 2010

Green Home Tips for the Fall

Filed under: Tips — Tags: , , — 4x4RE @ 4:08 pm

20 “Green” tips for Fall

September 22nd, was the first day of autumn … the Autumnal Equinox. In many areas the temperatures are beginning to drop and soon leaves will begin to fall. It turns out that this time of year is perfect for Eco-friendly activities. A little effort in the fall will ensure that the chilly months ahead are warm and “green”.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Check the air pressure in your tires. Cooler temperatures lower tire pressure and that, in turn, lowers fuel efficiency. So check your tires and make sure that they are properly inflated.
  2. Clean and service heat pumps/furnaces. Did you know that your heat pump/furnace needs cleaning? Dust and debris not only affects performance but could cause a fire. Before you really need the heat, get out your owner’s manual for instructions on how to clean it.
  3. Move furniture or any obstructions from vents, baseboard heaters, registers on the floor or radiators so that air moves freely. This is also a good time to vacuum these areas to remove any dust or debris. And here’s a tip if you have a radiator: place a reflecting panel behind it , you can purchase one at a home center or make one yourself with a plywood panel and aluminum foil.
  4. Remove window air conditioners for the winter. If they can’t be removed, seal them with caulking or tape and cover them with an airtight, insulated jacket.
  5. Vacuum the refrigerator coils to keep the compressor running efficiently. It’s also a good time to check that the refrigerator is level … the door should automatically swing shut instead of staying open. Check the seal on the door … try closing it on a dollar bill. If you can pull the bill out easily, it’s time to replace the gaskets. Here’s another tip for running the refrigerator efficiently … don’t over fill it. Allowing room for cool air to circulate will keep everything at the right temperature.
  6. Clean the ducts and area behind the dryer. And don’t forget, clean the filter after every use and every once in awhile, give it a good wash.
  7. Check windows for proper caulking. If you have single-pane windows, add storm windows. Even a plastic film over windows will reduce heat loss.
  8. Check doors for weather stripping and replace as necessary. If drafts sneak in under exterior doors, replace the threshold or block the drafts with a rolled-up towel or blanket.
  9. Check your roof for any missing or damaged tiles or shingles.
  10. Clean the roof gutters and make sure downspouts are pointed away from the house. Now would also be a good time to install a rain barrel … rather than allow water to drain into one spot, a rain barrel would allow you to direct the water to where it’s most needed.
  11. Check electrical outlets, especially on outside walls, and light fixtures are prime places for cold air to leak into your home. Add foam gaskets behind covers and switch plates, and use safety plugs in unused outlets. Shut off the power at the fuse box or circuit panel before doing this.
  12. Install foam covers over outside water spigots to prevent freezing.
  13. Check for water leaks both inside and outside.
  14. Wrap the water heater in an insulating blanket.
  15. If you have a ceiling fan, reverse the direction … the fan should be run in a clockwise direction (stand under the fan and if you feel a breeze, reverse the direction so that air is being drawn upwards). This pushes the air up against the ceiling and down the walls, to gently re-circulate the warm air without creating a cooling “wind chill effect.”
  16. Clean/service fireplaces. Have the chimney cleaned and check vent systems.
  17. If your home has no sidewall insulation, place heavy furniture like bookshelves, armoires and sofas along exterior walls, and use decorative quilts as wall hangings. This will help block cold air.
  18. Bring in any houseplants that have spent the summer outdoors. They’ll help clean the air.
  19. As the autumn leaves begin to fall, consider raking them up rather than using a “blower”. Once raked up, use them as mulch to protect plants throughout the winter or add them to a compost pile.
  20. Before packing away those summer clothes, go through them and determine which items to keep, which items to repurpose into something else (cleaning rags, craft projects, etc.) and which to donate.

June 10, 2010

Is there a sensible solution to the BP oil spill catastrophe?

Is there a sensible solution to the BP oil spill catastrophe?  Perhaps there is.  The video link below will take you to an amazingly simple way to absorb the oil while cleaning up the mess with all natural materials.   It seems all the tools are readily available, inexpensive and easy to use.   

OK, I know this sounds crazy.  The government doesn’t do simple, easy or cheap; usually the chosen solutions are complicated, difficult to administer and expensive.  I mean, Kevin Costner’s invention from Water World?  Really?  It wasn’t even a good movie!

If, after you view this video, you feel a glimmer of hope, please pass it on to everyone you know plus your government representatives.  Perhaps the EPA guys will see it on twitter!!

Hey, it is worth a try before the oil gets to the Outer Banks and ruins our pristine coastline, not to mention our economy.  Talk about beach closings, this could be the daddy of them all.

See the cool solution here.  And thanks for helping.  Maybe we can save some wildlife before they need that bath with Dawn!

June 8, 2010

June’s Green Action Tips

Filed under: Tips — Tags: , , , , , — 4x4RE @ 5:30 pm

Tips for Going Green on a Budget

Going green doesn’t have to cost a lot of green! Use these simple tips to make a positive impact on the environment while keeping your wallet intact. It’s easy, even for the laziest of environmentalists.

  • Shut down and unplug electronics. Make small changes to use – and pay for – less energy, like shutting down your computer when you’re not using it and plugging your cell phone and other electronics into power strips so you can turn several devices off with one switch.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water. By using cold water instead of warm, the average household can avoid emitting 1,281 pounds of carbon dioxide annually and save on energy bills.1
  • Fill your bottle with filtered tap water. Choose the greener solution by using a reusable bottle, like the FilterForGood bottle, and filling it with filtered tap water. If you use a Brita filtration system you can make another responsible choice by recycling your pitcher filter when you replace it, which should be about every two months (or every 40 gallons). Find out more about recycling Brita filters here.
  • Update your wardrobe for less. Instead of consuming new products, trade fashionable clothes, accessories, cosmetics and shoes for free (you only pay for shipping). By swapping merchandise you can lower the amount of harmful emissions caused by the manufacturing process. Check out swapstyle.com to learn more.
  • Exchange CDs, DVDs and books instead of buying. Now you can avoid purchasing new products without forfeiting your entertainment needs. Visit swapacd.com, swapadvd.com and paperbackswap.com for access to thousands of CDs, books and DVDs.
  • Use refurbished electronics. You can get refurbished electronics for a steal (they often sell for less than 50 percent of the retail price!), and before they’re resold to the public, they go through an intense defect-testing process and the warranties usually remain intact. So you can save money and help reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills. Shop at www.dyscern.com and www.refurbdepot.com.
  • Use kitchenware products made of recycled materials. Preserve uses items such as recycled Brita pitcher filters and empty yogurt containers to make their line of colorful kitchen gear. Since they’re about the same price as regular kitchenware, it’s a no-brainer to choose Preserve products. Visit preserveproducts.com to find a retailer near you

March 30, 2010

North Carolina offers 15% discounts to celebrate Earth Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — 4x4RE @ 10:29 am

North Carolinians will be able to save on replacing old home appliances with new Energy Star appliances. This program will be during Earth Day Weekend, which is Thursday April 22 through Sunday April 25. Rebates will be 15% on Energy Star related appliances, and will be in addition to any store, manufacturer or other discounts.
Home appliances that are eligible are Energy Star clothes washers, dishwashers, refrigerators and freezers. North Carolina residents who are purchasing replacement appliances for their home are eligible. Residents purchasing multiple appliances or contractors are not eligible.
For more information on the rebate you can read FAQ Page, visit www.energync.net, or call the NC Dept of Commerce at 919-733-2953.

March 25, 2010

It’s Almost Earth Hour

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , — 4x4RE @ 9:40 am

t’s about Earth Hour, which is this Saturday at 8:30 local time.  On Earth Hour hundreds of millions of people around the world will come together to call for action on climate change by doing something quite simple—turning off their lights for one hour. The movement symbolizes that by working together, each of us can make a positive impact in this fight, protecting our future and that of future generations. Learn more about how Earth Hour began, what we’ve accomplished, and what is in store for 2010.

In support of this event, please be sure to turn off your computers, monitors and printers when you are done for the day. Shutting down all unnecessary equipment can be a show of your support. It’s a small step, but let’s do what we can. Click here to visit MyEarthHour.org.

March 3, 2010

Green Energy: Wind or Solar?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — 4x4RE @ 1:29 pm

Many people who you talk to about generating electricity at home seem polarized to either wind turbines or solar panels. I found this great article at http://windpowerspot.com that suggests “Why not use both?” For many areas maybe a mixture of both is the best way to handle our energy needs.

Many people today have realized the dream of being completely off the grid by combining wind and solar energy. Small sized affordable wind generators are available today for the home user, and they are being combined with photovoltaic cells for power generation. It’s obvious that fossil fuel energy costs are going to keep on rising making it harder to afford getting power from the grid. The time is more than ripe for solar wind energy to be one of the solutions to rising energy costs, and to take us off of fossil fuel energy dependence.

Wind Turbines

Wind turbines are actually very simple machines. They consist of 3 parts: rotor blades, a shaft, and a generator. The rotor blades act like a propeller that turns the shaft when the wind flows through them. The shaft then turns the generator and a current is generated. About eighty-five percent of all off-grid systems use solar wind energy.

The new micro as well as mini wind turbines are very popular with sailors, and are now starting to be more popular with home owners in Europe and the UK. Mini turbines are very cost effective and will only cost about $1,500 to $2,500. They are perfect for generating electricity if you live off the grid in remote rural areas. It’s satisfying to think about having solar wind energy provide for all your energy needs and also knowing that you never have to depend on utility companies.

Photovoltaic Cells

The typical home solar power system consists mainly of these:
a) Photovoltaic Panels
b) Charge Controller Module
c) Batteries (optional)
d) Inverter
Photovoltaic panels convert sunlight into an electric current. The type of current generated by a photovoltaic panel array is DC or direct current. For this current to be usable in most common households, it has to be converted into AC or alternating current. That’s where the inverter comes in. It’s job is to convert DC into AC current.

Solar wind energy systems are also called hybrid energy systems because the use a combination of solar and wind power to generate electricity. The wind turbines are mostly used during the winter months (in the northern hemisphere) when the sun’s vertical rays are mostly directed toward the southern hemisphere, and days tend to be cloudy. During summer months, photovoltaic cells would supplement greatly along with the wind turbine.

By using hybrid solar wind energy systems, a homeowner has the option of using or omitting batteries for storage. Homeowners also have the choice of being “Grid-Tied” or “Net Metered”. This means that your solar wind energy system has the ability to provide electricity not only for your house, but the power company as well. This way, if your solar wind energy system generated more energy than was used, the energy can be sold back to the power company. When you’re selling energy back to the company, your power meter runs backward. The “net metered” system therefore is highly recommended. The grid also works as your “battery backup” when your hybrid solar wind energy system doesn’t provide for your power demands.

Net-metered systems are also recommended because they are easier to install, cost less, and offer better performance.

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