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Consumers Associate Green Building With High Quality

McGraw-Hill’s SmartMarket Report affirms the importance of energy savings and clients’ perceptions of durability and value

Posted on May 15 2012 by Richard Defendorf

American consumers are increasingly aware of green construction programs. This increasing awareness is being driven by rising energy costs as well as marketing by builders and building material manufacturers. Moreover, consumers perceive green buildings to be of higher quality than buildings that barely meet code.

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Image Credits:

  1. McGraw-Hill Construction SmartMarket Report

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To Capture Green Value, We Need a Long Perspective

Appraisers, lenders, and real-estate professionals have some serious catching up to do if we want to see more energy-efficient homes in our future

Posted on Dec 13 2011 by Peter Yost

If we let simple or even net-value payback analysis alone drive the economics of high-performance buildings, we might as well throw in the towel. It is truly crazy to apply just this approach to long-lived durable goods, such as homes.

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Image Credits:

  1. Umpqua Bank

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A Step Toward Fairer Green Home Valuations

A new appraisal form aims to standardize the valuation of energy-efficiency features included in green homes

Posted on Oct 21 2011 by Richard Defendorf

To say this is an era of heightened scrutiny of the appraisal industry is an understatement. Flat-lining home sales and prices have sellers – including homebuilders – sharply focused on the fairness of lender valuations, especially those in markets afflicted by foreclosures.

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Image Credits:

  1. Appraisal Institute (all images)

Green Renovating A Home And A Career

Oak Park, IL

Jun 14 2011 By Peter Yost | 0 comments

General Specs and Team

Location: Oak Park, IL
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 3
Living Space : 3135 sqf
Cost (USD/sq. ft.): $56/sqf

Total cost does not reflect the labor supplied by the owner's family or friends. The builder estimates that approximately 70% of the total labor on the project is not reflected in the cost per square foot cited above.

The square footage total includes the entire basement (home was originally 1785 square feet).

Builder: Jason La Fleur, EcoAchievers


(Home originally built in 1912)
Foundation: Original basement poured concrete foundation; 1.5” XPS foam board exterior / 1” XPS foam board interior
Walls: Original 2x4: some blown-in cellulose / some with BioFoam soy-based closed cell spray foam
Roof: Original roof (had been tear-off 10 years ago), insulated with John Mansville formaldyhde-free fiberglass to R-19, with 1” XPS on interior below drywall
Windows: Combination of Andersen awning window, Pella double-hung and casement windows, Marvin double-hung, and Serious Windows double-hung. U-factors range from .32 to .20
Garage: Detached


Blower door test results: 9.4 ACH50 (during; final results pending)
Domestic water heating: Takagi TK2
Total Household Energy Consumption - 2008: 179,542,604 Btus
Total Household Energy Consumption - 2010: 148,264,020 Btus
Note: 2011 total, after all energy-saving retrofits, pending

Water Efficiency

Toilets: Kohler WaterSense
Faucet aerators: Niagara
Rain barrels: Chicago Metropolitan Water Reclamation District

Indoor Air Quality

Interior floor finish: Rubio Monocoat
Ventilation: Panasonic kitchen and bath exhaust fans (previously none)
Garage: Detached


GAPScore (before): 29
GAPScore (after): 49
GAPScore documentation for Humphrey House - Post-remodel

Jason La Fleur, Regional Director at the Alliance for Environmental Sustainability, explains how remodeling his 1912 Oak Park Arts and Crafts home led to his new career in green building

In 2004, Jason La Fleur and his wife Jennifer bought a classic Arts and Crafts home in Oak Park, Illinois, home to the largest single collection of buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Lessons Learned

This is an easy topic for Jason: “We had a ton of them! It’s the classic case of ‘If only I knew then what I know now.’”

Spray foaming the entire converted attic: “We went at this with batts and rigid insulation; spray foam would have given us a much tighter lid on our house.”

Using salvaged vintage doors: “They look great and fit the existing architecture and style of our home, and they cost far less than comparable new interior doors.”

Remodeling room by room, learning green on the go: “We missed quite a few opportunities for integrated design and integration of our construction work overall.”

Jason wraps up the Lessons Learned discussion this way:
“If I had to do it all over again, I probably would look at purchasing a home in much worse condition, such as a foreclosure, which would make it that much easier to take a comprehensive approach to gut rehabbing. Ironically, next time I’d also involve a contractor, rather than doing the work myself piecemeal over time. While there would be a higher upfront cost, a lower acquisition price and the significant savings in my own time and effort, coupled with the opportunity for better results would have made it worthwhile.

“And finally, I would have pursued a performance-based third-party green certification such as LEED, so that at some point in the future when we go to sell this home, the home’s green improvements will be easily recognized by a future buyer, and fully valued by their lender and appraiser.”

Peter Yost

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Image Credits:

  1. Jason La Fleur

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Giving Green Certification a Home in Real Estate Listings

Colorado’s plan to add certified energy efficiency features to listings aims to ensure proper valuations; meanwhile, data show certified homes are commanding a premium in and around Portland, Oregon

Posted on Sep 20 2010 by Richard Defendorf

The battle to capture the fair value of green features in homes took a turn in favor of home sellers and builders this month in Colorado, where a state government task force led an initiative to factor certified energy efficiency and renewable-energy features into real estate listings.

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Image Credits:

  1. Earth Advantage Institute, based on regional multiple listing service data

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Getting a Grip on Green-Home Appraisals and Insurance

More time, training, and green-construction data will be needed for fairer evaluations in the real estate and insurance markets

Posted on Apr 19 2010 by Richard Defendorf

One of green residential construction’s growing pains has been the disconnect between what an appraiser might declare a new, energy efficient house is worth and what it actually costs to build.

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When Green Poses an Appraisal Problem

For those who build green in areas where green-construction comparables are scarce, getting an appraisal that will satisfy current lender criteria can be a challenge

Posted on Jun 25 2009 by Richard Defendorf

In the same press release the National Association of Realtors reported a 2.4% uptick in existing-home sales for May, the group also repeated its concerns about appraisal methods that, according to NAR economist Lawrence Yun, “compare traditional homes with distressed and discounted sales.”

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Image Credits:

  1. Durisol

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