Housing Industry Can Take Lead in Green Movement and Economic Recovery

March 25, 2009

Residential

A Green Roof in Downtown Chicago

A Green Roof in Downtown Chicago

Hope. That is all we really have right now. With the signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) in February, President Obama has provided a significant measure of hope that while the economy may continue its decline in the near term, there is help on the way.

E³ For America

My tenet is to focus on an integrated approach to American recovery. If we focus on Economy, Energy Efficiency, and Environmental Responsibility (E³) and work on all three simultaneously we can achieve the recovery we all hope for. The ARRA has numerous measures to try to bring about this recovery, but it will take all of us working together to bring about this change. It will take a commitment to new approaches to old problems and a commitment to new practices to bring about this change.

Green Opportunities in Real Estate

In the real estate and building industry we have an enormous opportunity to put people to work in various trades and manufacturing industries. The new federal tax incentives, current rebate programs, and local subsidies for energy upgrades to homes is an opportunity to help America achieve a measure of energy independence and help the American recovery.

Any home with windows, mechanical equipment, or insulation that is 15 – 20 years old would be a candidate for an energy efficiency update. By taking advantage of the rebates and incentives, these upgrades become more affordable for more people. There are loan programs geared specifically for home improvements and energy efficiencies to help make these upgrades more accessible financially for people across the economic spectrum.

If we encourage home owners to update their homes, we improve the retail industry, the building industry, and the manufacturing industry. We will also achieve an enormous energy savings by reducing the demand for electricity and natural gas for cooling and heating. Homes that undergo energy upgrades are up to 50% more efficient, have better indoor air quality, and are more comfortable.

The money individuals save in utility costs can be put right back into the economy for other discretionary spending. The energy saved goes to reducing our demand for foreign supplied natural resources and improves our national security.

Many Green Options for Homes, And Many Options Are Now Subsidized by the ARRA

Take updates a step further and include solar power, solar thermal, geothermal, wind, or fuel cell technologies and the achievements can be even higher. And now, under the ARRA, all these technologies are included in the 30% tax credit for installation of renewable technologies for residential and commercial projects. Before, only solar photovoltaic projects qualified for the uncapped 30% credit.

For new construction, of which I know there is little at the moment, we should be encouraging all builders to adopt green building practices. Not because it might make them more money, but because smarter, greener homes that are designed and built Green from the Ground Up? have more opportunities to achieve greater efficiencies for the same dollars invested in a retrofit. There is a shade of green that is right for every budget and every project. A green home is healthy home. For lower income families, those that live in public housing or affordable housing, green conversions and green construction leads to healthier families. The improved air quality due to better ventilation, better air filtration, and improved insulation leads to less asthma and other respiratory illnesses, fewer hospital visits, and less exposure to other toxic materials like lead and asbestos which still plague many older homes and apartments.

Green Movement Helps the Environment

Another benefit to this green movement is to decrease the pressure on the environment. Less energy consumed, smarter products used in construction with more recycled content and fewer toxic compounds, less energy used in heating and cooling, more water conservation through water recycling, rain harvesting, and smart land use all lead to a cleaner environment for everyone to enjoy.

By encouraging the housing industry to adopt better practices and encouraging our clients to “go green” we all can play a role in the American Recovery and Revitalization.

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About Stuart Feldman

Stuart Feldman, an emergency medicine physician by training, but recently received his LEED AP. He has been working as a green developer for the past four years.

Feel free to contact him through his website www.rivertrailproperties.com. He assists in the design, construction, and materials selection for any project. He is LEED AP certified, and can help get your home LEED rated or EnergyStar® certified, or simply running at peak performance. He has 8 home designs that can be built on most city-sized lots, and he can design homes of any quality and style using his design team. New or renovated home projects can be completed in four months from the time of starting construction. Stuart also is building a conservation community in 2010. The River Hill Conservation Community embraces the best of environmentally responsible design and construction in an innovative and community oriented subdivision in Lake County and will showcase what is possible in the design and construction of truly environmentally responsible homes.

Stuart still works full time in the ER and enjoys time with his 2 young sons and loving wife. In his spare time he enjoys a round of golf, sailing, and dining out. You can contact him at stuartdo@rivertrailproperties.com.

View all posts by Stuart Feldman

7 Responses to “Housing Industry Can Take Lead in Green Movement and Economic Recovery”

  1. Lisa Gregg Says:

    Amen! I couldn’t have wrote this better myself – can’t wait to see what you post next….keep it coming. You’ve got me hooked!

  2. Brad Walbrun Says:

    Way to go Stu!

    Did you guys know he is a MD too??

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