by Jodi Summers
To our health. You gotta love that California has been pushing policies for green development all millennium. Now that we’re climbing out of the recession, expect new homes to be those space-age models of energy efficiency that we have previously only imagined. As the economy gains momentum, so is the green building revolution.
New green homes by major developers are light years ahead of where they were before the recession. Motivated by government initiatives like New Solar Homes Partnership.
KB Home has made solar systems standard on new houses in Southern California. Lennar, Pardee Homes and Pulte Homes offer solar home projects. ABC Green Home of Newport Beach is will be building a net-zero home to showcase green technology for consumers. Clarum Homes in Palo Alto is a custom builder that has gained praise for incorporating energy efficiency and passive solar features into homes with modernist flourishes.
The New Solar Homes Partnership adopts a long-term plan that called for having all new residential buildings achieve zero net energy use by 2020 and having all commercial buildings achieve zero net energy use by 2030.
Beyond solar, green new home efficiency benefits include tankless hot water heaters, adjustable thermostats, LED lighting and Energy Star appliances, as well as other economical perks. Live efficiently and your electricity bill from Southern California Edison Co. can be close to zero.
Designs like the ZeroHouse model by Los Angeles builder KB Home exemplify the housing industry’s attempt to move beyond the one-off LEED vanity project and make subdivision building a green practice. New net-zero homes are so green they produce at least as much juice as they consume.
Environmentalists began pushing for California to mandate that new homes come with renewable energy systems in the early 2000s, as the technology became more scalable and available. Our CalGreen construction codes have influenced the world…now perhaps our homes will as well.
With the light rail coming down Olympic Blvd. and then switching over to Colorado, you know there ‘s a whole lot of new construction going on in downtown Santa Monica. All this new construction means a whole lot of old buildings have to come down before the new buildings can be built and with all our deconstruction that means a while lot of waste.
As of 2011, the Cal Green Building Codes requires all structures built in California recycle 50% of the waste generated by construction. Santa Monica, green haven that we be, requires 65% of waste from construction and demolition sites to be diverted from landfills. That will move to 70% in the near future.
For the records, waste includes anything you discard from the site; wood scraps, cardboard, flashing, paint and finishing products, tools, drywall, concrete, asphalt, plastic bags, remnants of insulation, etc.
Key to repurposing old materials is the concept of “embodied energy,” or maintaining the resources needed to make the product in the first place, offers Brenden McEneaney, a green building program advisor with the Office of Sustainability and the Environment. “If you make a brick, clay had to get dug out of the ground and brought to a manufacturing facility kiln,” he elaborates. “A lot of carbon was expended to make that product in the first place, and a lot would be expended to make a new product.”
Reuse is a vital new business model, employing nearly 170,000 workers at an annual payroll of $2.7 billion and generates $14.1 billion in revenue, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Failure to achieve the CalGreen recycling goals could result in delays in receiving Final Inspection Approval and a penalty equal to 2% of your project’s value. All penalties must be paid before Final Building Inspector Approval, so there’s no way around it.
In Santa Monica, one can find recycling solutions at locations like Bourget Brothers and the Reuse People’s program > who claim to be able to get between 80 and 90% of the construction and demolition waste diverted.
The Reuse People reach their recycling numbers by working with contractors to carefully take apart buildings to reclaim as much of the original materials as possible. They then transport them to local warehouses where they sell the products below market costs.
Locally, Bourget Brothers Building Materials has gotten into the business of selling recycled materials > be they doors, cabinets, or even old railroad ties. John Bourget has taken to scavenging the building site for desirable recyclables, like old bricks or railroad times.
Didja know A reclaimed brick can be resold for almost the same price as a new one, somewhere between 80 cents and $1.25 in Bourget’s estimation, and it prevents a brand new structural brick from being used unnecessarily.
What with the light rail under construction on the West Side, there is surplus material around everywhere. As city like Santa Monica as a prime market for recycling because builders, homeowners and other businesses have embraced the idea of adaptive reuse.
by Jodi Summers
Have you been part of the morning line of traffic waiting to get off the 10W freeway at Cloverfield? The jobs came to the beach before the mass transit. Think of how much easier the commute will be when the Bergamot Station stop on the Expo Line opens in 2015…just get a new place down the line…
Nationally, more than three-quarters of all jobs in the 100 largest metropolitan areas are in neighborhoods with transit service. Not that Santa Monica is one of the largest, we’re just a small metropolis…but between the Big Blue Bus, L.A. Metro Bus and the light rail line, you will be able to get pretty much anywhere in our 8.5 square mile city by mass transit…In Santa Monica, we are building lots of new apartments, townhomes and condos so you to live in along route.
A study by the Brookings Institute found that western metro areas like Los Angeles and Seattle exhibit the highest mass transit coverage rates. When combining bus and rail service, they exhibit near ubiquitous transit coverage rates and enable their jobs to access over half of their local labor pools. Los Angeles is better than average. Are we really up there with New York and Chicago? If so, just imagine trying to take the bus to work in Kansas….
Pundits say that the typical job is accessible to only about 27% of its metropolitan workforce by transit in 90 minutes or less. Labor access varies from the high of 64% in metropolitan Salt Lake City to a low of 6% in metropolitan Palm Bay, Florida. Studies conclude that city jobs are consistently accessible to larger shares of metropolitan labor pools than suburban jobs, reinforcing cities’ geographic advantage relative to transit routing. Hey, Santa Monica’s daily population is around 250,000 – more than double our nighttime population of 90,000. People are coming here for more than the beach. If you want to live here and join the fun, we can accommodate you in finding your new home.
by Jodi Summers
Old meets new. The century-old Santa Monica Pier has new millennium lighting. The City of Santa Monica recently updated all bulbs that light the Pier to LED versions, which are heralded as being more energy efficient, last longer and provide more focused beams than their counterparts.
Nearly 1,600 fixtures on the carousel, “necklace” lights that surround the structure, flood lights, street lamps and globe lights will get the upgrade, saving 216,000 kilowatt hours per year compared to the traditional bulbs. A portion of the new LED lights will be replacing incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs that burned out some time ago, bringing new life to the pier.
“We will be making this jewel of the city brighter and more sustainable,” praised pier manager Rod Merl.
City Hall received $114,370 for the Pier Lighting Retrofit project and another $554,000 for the wider LED Street lighting project, which served to replace streetlights throughout the city with new bulbs. Savings on the Pier project work out to roughly $39,466 saved per year in energy costs, according to the Office of Sustainability and the Environment. In addition to saving electricity, the new fixtures are expected pier staff a lot of time….particularly when it comes to maintaining the necklace lights that loop around the pier deck, where the globe lights would burn out regularly.
LED lights are more expensive by the piece, but according to the U.S. Department of Energy, a high-powered white LED light can last between 35,000 and 50,000 hours. By comparison, the average incandescent light lasts between 720 and 2,000 hours, a compact fluorescent usually runs between 8,000 and 10,000 hours.
If the new LED lights were on 24 hours a day, they would last 5.7 years, calculated Carlos Rosales, an engineer with the public works department. “Since they only turn on at night, they should last 10 years,”
And they should all need to be replaced at about the same time.
Another benefit to the lights in the eyes of City Hall is how they project their beams.
“The old-fashioned kind of lights tends to cast a wide area,” Merl observed. “One of the things with the new lighting heads, the light pools where you want it to rather than dispersing in all directions.”
Shine on you crazy pearl necklace….
Santa Monica has the goal of becoming a zero-waste city by 2030. The City recently took additional steps in that direction by becoming perhaps the first in the world to ban almost all single-use disposable consumer items. And you thought the solar-powered Ferris wheel was revolutionary…
The newly-passed law aggregates various smaller efforts targeting plastic coffee stirrers, disposable cups, paper plates and cigarette butts that fill up ever-shrinking landfill space and add to the carbon footprint.
The law is believed to be the first of its kind in the country < perhaps the world < and gives Santa Monica very definitive steps to reach the goal of going zero-waste by 2030.
“Santa Monica is a city on a hill for those seeking to truly protect the oceans and tidal areas. Even land lubbers can appreciate the benefits of never seeing another stray paper cup crunched in a storm drain,” optimistically offers Heal the Bay’s executive director, Karin Whale.
As the city is a prototype, researchers studying climate change and the green economy have asked to make Santa Monica a case study for the next 20 years to see how well the ban functions in the 8.3 square mile City.
“You created Downtown apartments that do not provide parking specifically to attract people without cars,” offered city resident Edmund Furror, “Now you want us to get in cars to get necessities for life?”
The ban has created unusual alliances within the Santa Monica community of constituency groups that have never before advocated on the same issues. For example, a group calling itself SMC-Squared (Santa Monicans for Condoms and Convenience), consists of medical professionals and singles rallying against the ban’s impact on prophylactics and single-serving frozen dinners > both of which are essentials to the young professional lifestyle.
“I’m begging you for a compromise,” Betsy Berson Foursquare of the Venice Family Clinic told policymakers. “Companies are making condoms thinner and thinner these days. It increases the chance they’ll break, but that’s still better than the pull-out method.”
The SAVE Act, is new bill being proposed in Congress, would create 83,000 jobs and generate $1.1 billion in annual energy bill savings. Officially known as the “Sensible Accounting to Value Energy” (SAVE) Act, it would require mortgage lenders to include expected energy-costs savings into the value of a home. Bill sponsors, Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) and Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia), call the bill, ”A win-win for the economy and the environment.”
The Institute for Market Transformation notes that SAVE Act would help revitalize the hardest hit sectors of the economy by providing lower rate mortgage financing for cost effective energy improvements; allowing homebuilders and homeowners to recover the cost of efficiency investments; and enabling better federal mortgage underwriting while lowering utility bills for American households.
“It would allow folks to retrofit their homes and be rewarded for it over the life of the loan,” Senator Bennet enthused.
Let’s put the SAVE Act into action using a recently built home as our example. Most likely the newer home is as much as 75%-more energy-efficient than its older neighbors > saving the owner $1,500 a year. Under the SAVE Act, that savings would be factored into the value of the home and the borrower’s ability to make the mortgage payments.
Expected benefits include:
* Enable federal mortgage programs to improve the quality of mortgage underwriting and provide an accurate picture of repayment risk and the expected costs of homeownership
* Greatly accelerate the supply of and demand for energy-efficient new homes
* Quickly return any incremental cost for homebuyers due to home efficiency improvements
* Put people in the construction and manufacturing sectors back to work renovating and building energy-efficient homes and products
“It allows us to build and sell more energy-efficient houses, which is a win-win,” shared Randy Melvin of Winchester Homes. “It’s good for us, it’s good for the environment, it’s good for the consumer, it’s good for our country’s energy independence.”
The average homeowner spends more than $2,000-a-year on energy, yet it is not factored into appraisals, unlike insurance or real estate taxes.
“Let’s say you install double-pane windows in your house that create energy efficiency, that’s a cost as homeowner, but it’s a savings that the lender can now recognize,” concludes Sen. Bennet.
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