By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine
Green building and products continue to gain traction in real estate, and some of the latest “green” products not only are helping home owners trim energy bills but also making their homes work smarter.
ONE 'SMART' GREEN HOME
The Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry has unveiled its fourth version of its “Smart Home,” a 2,200 square-foot home that boasts some of the latest innovations in green construction. Here are a few of its features:
--Monitor energy usage. This home was wired to keep a constant close watch on its energy usage. The home features a large flat-screen television that displays a room-by-room measurement of the home’s energy consumption. The home’s automation system also controls the lighting and can track daily and hourly use of energy.
--A mirror not just for your reflection. The Cybertecture Mirror in the home’s master bathroom is no ordinary mirror. You can use a remote to turn it instantly into a computer monitor where you can even check your Facebook page. You can also use it to display time, traffic reports, news, temperature, and even keep track of your weight.
--Movable solar panels. Located in the front of the house, a 45-foot wind turbine provides some of the energy to power the home from the sun. The Smart Home’s rooftop solar panels also are an energy source. Unlike typical solar panels, these panels are soft and roll out on the home’s flat roof so home owners can even take it with them if they ever move.
--Reuse and recycle. The home features several examples of recycling everyday products and turning them into household items. For example, the upholstery on the chairs in the living room are made from recycled automobile tires.
LOW MAINTENANCE UPKEEP WITH GREEN
A dated 1968 ranch style home in Cape Coral, Fla., was transformed with a interior and exterior “greenovation”--a green-inspired renovation. Dubbed the “Lemonade House,” the home has become the Florida High Performance Green House, a demonstration home showing off eco-friendly features.
As part of the renovations, the home’s yellow ranch clad in stucco got a facelift with new siding, windows, and roof--all of which are more energy efficient and maintenance free.
Paul Shahriari, the eco-entrepreneur behind the renovation, used energy efficient vinyl cedar shake siding from The Foundry to wrap over the home’s stucco exterior. The maintenance-free siding never needs to be repainted and also helps to give the home a unique, modern, beach-style look, he says.
To contrast with the yellow vinyl, Shahriari used a green, maintenance-free trim (cellular PVC IQm Trim in crisp Polar White). The home then was topped off with an Energy Star-rated silver metal roof.
“A house is greener if you spend less money and time taking care of it,” Shahriari says. “If you can build something in a way that all you have to do is hose it down once a year, that’s green.”
Other renovations to the home included vinyl impact windows, LED lighting, solar hot water heating, low-VOC adhesives, and several green products incorporated throughout the home's interior.
Shahriari documents all of the greenovations he did to the home--and the savings--at the Florida High Performance Green House web site.
“It’s the only renovation you can do that makes you money instantly, where you don’t have to wait to sell your house to recoup your investment,” he says. “The moment I turn my house on, it’s saving me about $400 a month.”