Green Homes in Texas Add $25,000 Resale Value, Study Finds

Washington, D.C. – (July 11, 2017) – A new study from The University of Texas at Austin and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) finds that new homes in Texas built to meet green building standards like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the world’s most widely used green building rating system, are worth an average of $25,000 more in resale value than conventional homes. The study, “The Value of LEED Homes in the Texas Real Estate Market: A Statistical Analysis of Resale Premiums for Green Certification,” found that homes built to LEED standards between 2008-2016 showed an 8 percent boost in value, while homes built to a wider range of green standards saw a 6 percent increase in value.

“Our research shows there is a ‘green premium’ in the Texas single-family home market,” said The University of Texas at Austin’s Dr. Greg Hallman. “The average new home in our Texas MLS dataset sells for $311,000, so a 6-8% green premium represents a significant gain for home owners, developers, and real estate agents and brokers.”

The Green Homes study looked at more than 3,800 green-certified homes, including LEED-certified homes, built in Texas between 2008 and 2016 to determine if certification raised the resale value of homes. The study was conducted by the Real Estate Finance & Investment Center at The University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business. It was based on an analysis of more than 230,000 homes in Texas and used a regression model taking into account interior floor area, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, garages and the age of the home, as well as whether or not homes were built according to green standards including LEED.
The Green Homes study looked at more than 3,800 green-certified homes, including LEED-certified homes, built in Texas between 2008 and 2016 to determine if certification raised the resale value of homes. The study was conducted by the Real Estate Finance & Investment Center at The University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business. It was based on an analysis of more than 230,000 homes in Texas and used a regression model taking into account interior floor area, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, garages and the age of the home, as well as whether or not homes were built according to green standards including LEED.

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“As developers and buyers continue to see the value in LEED, we expect the number of LEED-certified homes to increase in the Texas market,” said Taryn Holowka, senior vice president, USGBC. “Homes that are built to meet green standards deliver more value to the seller and also ensure that buyers will have a high-value sale down the road and reap the benefit of lower utility bills while living in the home.”

LEED-certified homes benefit the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit by enhancing the health and wellbeing of occupants, saving costly environmental resources like energy and water, and providing cost savings to individual homeowners or residential building owners. On average, LEED-certified homes use 20-30 percent less energy than a home built to code, with some homes reporting up to 60 percent savings, which lowers energy costs.

The LEED Homes rating system was created in 2008 as a way for single-family homes and multi-family buildings to achieve LEED certification. LEED Homes projects undergo a technically rigorous process to become certified, including multiple on-site inspections and quality assurance. More than 1.5 million residential units are currently participating in LEED in the world. USGBC’s 2015 Green Building Economic Impact report found that the residential green construction market is expected to grow from $55 million in 2015 to $100.4 million in 2018, representing a year-over-year growth of 24.5 percent. Currently, there are more than 6,890 homes certified or pursuing LEED-certification in Texas.

To learn more about the Green Homes study, visit: https://www.usgbc.org/resources/value-leed-homes-texas-real-estate-market.

Sources: U.S. Green Building Council and the McCombs School of Business

Urban Solar awarded contract by City of Tempe for solar lighting installations

BEAVERTON, OR – Urban Solar is pleased to announce the award of a contract to supply solar powered LED lighting systems to the City of Tempe, Arizona. The 5-year contract provides increased safety for Tempe residents and transit users, with reliable solar lighting systems including a stop recognition feature.

Tempe City Council passed a master plan in 2015 to enhance safety, quality of life, and technology in its transportation systems, and selected Urban Solar to provide enhanced safety with its transit shelter lighting systems. Urban Solar won top pick for its reliable, high performance solar lighting solutions designed for the transportation industry.

Tempe City Council passed a master plan in 2015 to enhance safety, quality of life, and technology in its transportation systems, and selected Urban Solar to provide enhanced safety with its transit shelter lighting systems. Urban Solar won top pick for its reliable, high performance solar lighting solutions designed for the transportation industry.
Urban Solar’s roots are in transit-specific design, particularly with bus stops and shelters. Urban Solar provides autonomous, stand-alone off-grid systems, which reduce the need for disruptive and expensive trenching to utility poles. Urban Solar lighting products have an industry-leading warranty and are tested, listed, and audited by Underwriters Laboratories (UL); the most prestigious nationally recognized testing laboratory (NRTL) worldwide.

“Tempe, Arizona, is an extremely challenging environment,” says Urban Solar VP of Engineering and Operations, Garnet Luick. “This competitive award provides further evidence of Urban Solar’s dedication to, and understanding of, high performance and reliability in engineering solar powered LED lighting solutions.”

Sources: Tempe Transit and Urban Solar

The Economic Benefits To Green Lighting

The most common complaints we hear about green lighting are that the technology is too expensive and simply “not feasible.” In our experience, though, no lighting retrofit has ever cost more than the long-term savings it provides. Note that this isn’t necessarily true with some environmentally friendly technologies, such as some advanced alternative-energy projects. In addition to slashing energy costs, switching to greener lighting can provide numerous other benefits, including the following.

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Better Overall Economic Health

It’s no surprise that an efficiently run household is often a productive and comfortable place, and the same holds true for larger organizations. This is perhaps why a 2002 analysis by Innovest Strategic Value Advisors linked improving energy efficiency of companies to better stock market performance. It seems that analysts and investors are starting to recognize that management teams that are adept at trimming energy expenses also tend to be good at steering the rest of the business. Plus, more and more businesses are being asked to disclose environmental and energy- performance data as part of their annual reports. Showing improvement can help them to win business from government agencies and other organizations that are increasingly interested in environmental responsibility.

Efficiency upgrades can help a company to get on the radar of socially responsible investing (SRI) mutual funds and analysts, thus opening up new avenues of business. SRI funds screen out companies that managers deem unsavory and invest in firms that are leading the way in sustainability and social values. Moreover, the positive karma—and publicity—organizations earn for doing better by the environment can be invaluable. Improving lighting efficiency typically is the lowest-hanging fruit and often yields the quickest payoff.

Improved Property Values

An increasing number of home builders and real estate agents are discovering that they can get a leg up in the marketplace by advertising that a property has green features—and once again, green lighting is often the easiest place to start. Walter Molony, a spokesperson for the National Association of Realtors, told The Daily Green, “People definitely value energy efficiency. As utility costs continue to rise, it becomes greater value in people’s minds. 

The number of homes that were built according to voluntary green building standards ballooned by 50 percent between 2004 and 2007, reports the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Al- though new home starts have dropped dramatically in the wake of the housing market crash and global recession, interest in greener features remains high. More than half the NAHB’s 235,000 members (representing about 80 percent of U.S. home builders) reported in 2007 that they were starting to use at least some green building practices.

Further, real estate professionals are starting to notice that owners of green homes tend to be happier than when they live in more conventional digs, as reported by a recent NAHB/McGraw-Hill Construction survey. It’s worth noting that almost 40 percent of Americans who recently renovated their dwellings did so with at least some green products.

In a troubled market, being able to concretely show potential buyers that they will save money on their utility bills, as well as live smarter and more comfortably, can help to make your property more attractive than the competition. When the market is hot, having green features is like icing on the cake, and it can help you to access the growing segment of consumers who are deeply concerned about environmental issues.

The same holds true on the commercial side. In fact, a study by the Institute for Market Transformation found that $1 invested in energy efficiency with a 20 percent ROI could increase commercial property value by $2.

Improved Comfort, Employee Attendance, and Tenant Retention

It is perhaps not surprising that most energy-efficiency measures also improve the comfort and attractiveness of the indoor environment. Well-designed lighting retrofits, while reducing energy consumption, also improve visual acuity—the ability to see details well. Better vision, in turn, helps workers to complete tasks faster and reduces eye and mental strain. Better mood lighting helps to foster a pleasant environment that can bring out the best in staff and visitors.

A study by the Rocky Mountain Institute, a progressive energy think tank in Colorado, found that high-efficiency lighting with improved light quality, intensity, and color dramatically reduced worker eye strain, vision-related errors, and even absenteeism.

A number of occupational analysts have pointed out that workers who get fatigued less quickly are less likely to call in sick or get in on-site accidents. And those who are more comfortable in their workplace are more likely to stay with the company (Figure 1-8).

For income-generating properties, better lighting can help improve tenant recruitment and retention. For home owners, better lighting means more personal comfort and better utility from being inside, which is significant because studies show that we are indoors for up to 90 percent of our time these days. Don’t underestimate how much interior lighting affects the way we feel and the way we work and live.

Lockheed Martin Space Systems recently built 33,000 square feet of facilities in Sunnyvale, California, that meet the rigorous LEED standards maintained by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). The many green features include efficient lighting, full-cutoff fixtures to reduce light pollution outside, and promotion of daylighting through windows and sloped ceilings. Managers told the USGBC that after they moved into the new site, they saw a 15 percent drop in employee absenteeism. This resulted in savings that they said made up for the building’s green cost premium in the first year alone. Incidentally, that additional cost for installing green features was only 1.5 percent above conventional construction, according to Lockheed, further dispelling the belief that going green has to cost a lot of money.

“When they’re designed well, green buildings are very competitive on initial cost, and they have lower operating costs by using less energy and water,” Kaushik Amruthur, a Lockheed senior facilities engineer, explained.

Increased Productivity

A number of studies from the Rocky Mountain Institute and others have correlated increased worker productivity with better and more efficient lighting. Nationally, improvements to indoor environmental conditions are estimated to have generated $20 billion to $160 billion from greater workforce productivity, according to a report in the July-August 2002 Annual Review of Energy and the Environment. 

In a 1986 effort that is often cited by supporters of green building, the Main Post Office in Reno, Nevada, installed an efficient lighting system and lowered the ceiling, which made the room easier to heat and cool. Harsh direct downlighting was replaced with indirect lighting using long-lasting bulbs. After 40 weeks, worker productivity reportedly had increased by more than eight percent.

In some cases, improving the lighting of physical work environments also may help to attract the best and the brightest workers. This can lead to significant increases in business, and it is money up for grabs. As Kaushik Amruthur of Lockheed put it, today’s employees are more discriminating about the environmental qualities of the buildings in which they work. If workers slave away in dark and dingy conditions, they are more likely to feel undervalued by their employers and therefore less interested in going the extra mile.

These benefits also extend to schools, although an estimated 40 percent of American schools suffer from poor environmental conditions that can compromise the health and learning of students, ac- cording to the USGBC. However, a 2005 study in Washington State by Paladino & Company found a 15 percent reduction in student absenteeism at green schools (Figure 1-9). A 2006 Capital E review of 30 green schools across the country concluded that “based on a very substantial data set on productivity and test performance of healthier, more comfortable study and learning environments, a three to five percent improvement in learning ability and test scores in green schools appears reasonable and conservative.”

Boosting Sales

It is perhaps common sense that well-lit stores see more foot traffic and better sales than dim shops. Lighting makes a difference. At a recent visit to the Consumers Union Laboratories in New York state, the tech reviewers for Consumer Reports magazine explained that TV showrooms jack up the brightness and contrast on sets in order to catch the eyes of shoppers and move more units. Better news for greens is that daylighting can also raise sales. In 1999, the Heschong Mahone Group surveyed 108 outlet stores operated by the same chain, and found that sales increased by 40 percent in stores that had installed skylights.

Michael A. Steele, chief operating officer (COO) of Equity Office Properties, told Innovest Strategic Value Advisors that “having an energy-efficient building gives the owner an opportunity to win over the customer, especially when that is the difference between otherwise similar buildings.”

This is an excerpt from my book Green Lighting.

Green Living Guy TV Segment on Energy Efficiency

Anyone that knows green living appreciates energy efficiency!  It will save consumers sooo much money on their energy bills.

A few years back there was a report called, Overcoming Market Barriers and Using Market Forces to Advance Energy Efficiency, provides Congress and state policymakers with a road map to address national energy consumption through policies that could save the country approximately $1 trillion in energy bills and 19 quads in energy consumption.

So watch this post and get to saving money and energy while helping the environment!

Shout out to NYC Media for hosting this segment!

I’m so grateful to get the message out about energy efficiency! So let’s save some cash!

Energy Efficiency Policies Could Save the U.S. Economy Almost $1 Trillion

Old ACEEE Report Outlines 16 Policies to Remove Market Barriers to Energy Efficiency and Leverage Market Forces Aka Still Relevant Today!!

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released a Report highlighting 16 policies that remove market barriers across the economy to investments in energy efficiency.

The report, Overcoming Market Barriers and Using Market Forces to Advance Energy Efficiency , provides Congress and state policymakers with a road map to address national energy consumption through policies that could save the country approximately $1 trillion in energy bills and 19 quads in energy consumption.

The United States has made much progress in energy efficiency in the last few decades but there are still large, cost-effective opportunities available to advance efficiency even further, while improving the economy at the same time. However, a variety of market failures and market barriers contribute to keeping us from fully realizing our energy efficiency potential.

“Eliminating barriers that keep us from reducing waste is an approach both sides of the aisle can support,” said ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel. “By removing these barriers, Congress and state policymakers have an opportunity to let smart investments help strengthen the economy while saving the nation billions.”

The report discusses several targeted policies that leverage market mechanisms and address specific market failures to energy efficiency, without requiring substantial spending or government mandates. For example, the development of a comprehensive building labeling and benchmarking program could save approximately 1.6 quads of energy and $60 billion between 2014 and 2030. Even more impressive are the benefits gained from adjusting corporate tax legislation to encourage the replacement of inefficient equipment and from removing regulatory barriers to combined heat and power (CHP) projects. These two policies alone could reduce national energy consumption by 7 quads and save the economy close to $300 billion.

“We want to show policymakers that there are a number of cost-effective policies out there that could promote energy efficiency and kick start the economy at the same time. This report highlights a number of inventive approaches that we haven’t made much use of to date,” said lead author and ACEEE Senior Research Analyst Shruti Vaidyanathan.

The report includes policy interventions targeted at residential and commercial buildings, the industrial sector, and the transportation sector, as well as a number of policies with economy-wide benefits. For each measure, the report provides a brief description of the policy, its legislative history, general estimates of associated costs and benefits, and recommendations about future policy design.

To read the report visit: http://aceee.org/research-report/e136