Posts Tagged ‘low_voc_paints’

5 Energy Efficient Improvements To Make with FHA 203K Loans

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

green fiberHaving recently attended West Coast Green, we couldn’t help but thinking how this whole mortgage crises set the Green building movement back a few years. Unfortunately people will think about getting their loan mod or forbearance before they think about buying formaldehyde free cabinets or installing a water catchment system. The thing that many people don’t realize is that with the right property (and loan officer) buyers can use the FHA 203K loan to improve a home with Green elements.

In terms of Green building and Green interiors, people always get fixated on the energy savings aspects. True, much of Green building centers on energy (and savings) but don’t overlook the health benefits (like using zero VOC paint)

With the 203K loan in mind, here we listed 5 Green improvements that can improve a home, save money and increase the value:

1-    Go Energy Star – Energy Star appliances remain the way to go to not only cut down on an energy bill but it works as a plus for the planet as well. Some Energy Star appliances can chop 20% of a monthly energy bill and they often cost about the same as their inefficient cousins.

2-    Insulate baby Insulate – With winter looming, it only makes sense to either add or upgrade the walls and the attic. Many Green insulation options such as Bonded Logic to soy-based polyurethane can be found.

3-    Water Water Everywhere – Things like low flow showerheads (which should be a given these days) represents an inexpensive fix but think about low flow toilets, tankless hot water heaters, and for the more adventurous a water catchment system.

4-    Replace those Windows – Anyone that has ancient leaky windows might consider replacing them. The low–E, dual pane windows continue to hit the market at a fast clip. To us they represent a no-brainer as they not only preserve energy costs but they cut down on outside noise as well. Typical Eco-Star windows only cost about $15 more then their leaky brothers.

5-    Not to many people in the Bay Area have those old (pre 1992) inefficient furnaces that have a standing pilot light but consider sending it out to pasture (not the junkyard but some place like Building Resources) as they waste abut 35 percent of the fuel the use. Better to use the 203K money for a “condensing furnace” with annual efficiency of at least 90 percent. That number along with the possible 27 percent savings on a heating bill definitely sounds better to us.

Spirited Solar Talk and Tour at West Coast Green 10

Friday, October 1st, 2010
Lot's of good natural light in the solar house

Lot's of good natural light in the solar house

On the first day of West Coast Green 10, only a handful of bloggers (like Zem Joaquin of Ecofabulous) showed up for an informal solar talk presented by SunPower and Luminalt but as they say, we respect the quality more than the quantity. We quality people brought about a spirited talk mentioning the progress of solar and how solar fits just a small green option in the big picture. We raised the question of considering that if someone who has only $50,000 in their pocket would they be better off installing a PV system or maybe a water catchment system, hydronics, some new eco-star appliances.

To be fair, Luminalt made a good case for just making a sales pitch. They work with GoSolarSF, which combines environmental justice and social justice for lower income neighborhoods like the Bayview here in SF. They made a point, which we have seen before, that be having a solar system that reduces their PG & E bill to sometimes nothing can transform the life of someone.

Now part of the discussion ended up being a show and tell of one of the local installation. Of course we would have preferred to see one of the homes in the Bayview but we settled for a posh house in Presidio Terrace. Honestly, the people who opened their house to us do live a mansion and the PG & E bill to them will hardly make a difference but they continue to make a conscious green effort. Besides the 3 7.5 KW solar system they repurposed much of their old furnishings to Building Resources (instead of the dump), they installed eco star appliances, used low VOC paint and drive hybrids. The couple mentioned that they will be purchasing fully electric cars soon.

Although not militantly green they do make an effort. We hope soon that we can say the same for everyone else.

Laguna Honda Hospital Will Mark the First Green-Certified Hospital in California

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

laguna_honda_hospitalWith the downturn in overall new building, more sustainable efforts have seemingly fallen by the wayside. We’re glad to see that some projects have not totally disappeared. On June 26, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom will cut the ribbon on San Francisco’s new Laguna Honda Hospital and Rehabilitation Center, which will mark the first green-certified hospital in California.

Especially with energy still on everyone’s radar, the new technology in the hospital’s three new buildings will focus on energy and water savings. The buildings will use 30% less energy than statutory requirements, have Energy Star rated roofs which keep the buildings cooler on hot days and reduce energy use, and they have “closed-loop” air conditioning systems, meaning the system uses water for cooling is reused rather than wasted. Although do they really need AC in San Francisco?

Because this is a hospital, designers and builders people actually gave a nod to indoor air quality with use of low or zero VOC paints, wood, glues, and flooring materials in the new buildings. Reducing the highly toxic VOC’s, and other indoor air contaminants will only improve indoor health for Laguna Honda residents and staff.

With this green thinking, finally hospitals will start to realize that hospital recovery not only comes with injecting various medicines into patients but giving them a place that offers a healthier environment as well.

Image courtesy JKL

Going LEED Gold at the Gaia hotel

Friday, January 18th, 2008

gaia-go.jpgWe had heard a lot about the LEED Gold Gaia hotel in American Canyon (even we had to look up American Canyon and we live in San Fran) but we hadn’t actually visited it. Yes, we can only tell so much from a press release. The hotel, rather unassuming, sits right off busy Highway 29 just a short hop to both Napa and Sonoma Valley but once in the lobby or the rooms it’s not easy to hear any of the traffic. But onto the Green stuff. When checking in, it’s hard not to notice the kiosks with “green touch screens” which display how much water, electricity savings and how much CO2 the hotel emits. The overhead Solatube Tubular skylights represented an even more impressive aspect. Even on the cloudy day, the lobby had no artificial lighting, but you wouldn’t know it but the amount of natural light.

We got one of the choice rooms overlooking the man made lagoon which plays home to koi, frogs, various plant life and Artemis and Apollo (two impressive swans that live in the lagoon and strut their way around most of the hotel). By the way, the koi pond uses recycled water from the site which they clean and filter prior to entering the pond.

The sparten yet comfortable rooms offer lots of Green aspects. Small things like offering fair trade, organic coffee and not having those tiny shampoo bottles littering the bathroom made a big difference. Here they provide shampoo, lotion in bulk dispensers. We also like that all restrooms use recycled tiles and granite. While in the bathroom, we give wet kudos to the water saving low flow showerhead, which offer plenty of water pressure for one person (but not two, if you catch our drift).

We slept easy not only with a comfy, firm mattress but breathing easy with the low VOC paints were used throughout the rooms and rest of the hotel. It also helped us to know that solar panels provide 12% of the hotel’s electricity.

We know that a boutique type hotel needs a relaxing but unsustainable hot tub (yes, we partook and didn’t feel guilty) but we didn’t feel too keen about the microwave that inhabited our room but even with the little monster we felt pretty energized about our stay. It sure beats a stay in an unsustainable Motel 6.

We could very well come all the way to wine country without visiting some organic, sustainable and do we dare say biodynamic wineries. Stay tuned.