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Friday
Aug172007

Ask the General

Is it global warming or climate change? Does it matter who or what is responsible? Every 25 years we are overwhelmed with scientific certainty of some pending environmental failure. In the late 1970's we were warned of the dangers of a pending Ice Age. Today we are warned that Mother Earth is heating up to dangerous, no apocalyptic temperatures.

The truth is that the earth temperatures have always fluctuated. Whether human activity is chiefly responsible is highly debated. Whether we can do anything about climate chage is also under debate. What we can do is reduce our environmental impact and learn to adapt.

Adapting involves developing new technologies that reduce our need for fossile fuels, finding new sourves of alternative energy and building structures that will standup to the every changing climate. The average American home transfers about 60,000 Btu's of heat energy through its thermal envelope. Michigan has the weakest energy code in the nation for a cold weather state. This is a national embarrasement to anyone in the building community. As energy costs rise homeowners will need to reduce their energy usage or risk financial ruin. Low income residents in Michigan spend about 17% of their household income on energy. If we reduced their average energy costs by 50% more discretionary spending would be available for education, clothing, medical care and nutrician.

The technolgy exists, today, that can reduce the energy use of an existing home by 50% (or more). On theother end of the scale new homes can be designed to produce as much energy as it uses (Zero Energy Homes). As the green building movement moves forward the real estate industry needs to do its part in promoting advanced building performance technologies. The best place to start would be to include checkoff boxes on the MLS cards to identify buildings that were constructed to a high performance standard (Energy Star, LEED for Homes, Green Communties, and Environments for Living to name a few).

The MLS card is the best tool to let the potential buyer, the appraiser, other agents and lending institutions known that the building is something special. This would allow the system to track the financial advantages of high performance buildings when compared to conventional construction.

 

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