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Fall Real Estate: Sound Off

Do you think it’s worth it to build ‘green?’

My opinion is definitely yes. The owner gets a more energy-efficient building for about the same or slightly greater construction cost. The biggest drawback, in my opinion, is the owner needs to buy into the additional design costs for documentation and the additional costs for LEED certification if taking that step.

—Joel Altland,

Barton Associates Inc.,

York County

It is socially responsible to build “green,” and it can also be economically sensible, if done right. Smart decisions about building energy consumers (i.e. HVAC, lighting, domestic water heating, etc.) can result in relatively short paybacks. Decisions on which green systems to apply should be based on what makes sense for a particular project, rather than broadly applying what other projects may have incorporated.

—David J. Barto,

Barton Associates Inc.,

York County

Green is hardly anything new, it’s always been part of good design! And to whether it’s “worth it,” feeds the common misconception that it costs more. It always costs less, not just life-cycle and operationally, but often first cost. Now it is harder to design a green building, but many architects charge nothing for the additional work. Those few that charge more for doing a good job are rapidly losing competitive advantage.

Harrison Bink,

Bink Architectural Partnership Inc.,

Cumberland County

With the green-building market projected to reach $60 billion a year by 2010 and the industry growing by about 50 percent a year, I believe it is worth the effort to build green. A fact stated by the Green Building Alliance (GBA) said that Pennsylvania is a national leader in the manufacturing of green building products. I think that shows a lot toward what the environment and our surroundings mean to us and our future generations. As a developer, the market demand and consumer demand act as big influences to us on what we build. A key aspect in building a sustainable building is to determine ahead of time what types of clients will be attracted to that type of product you are going to build. You can’t go into a project hoping for people to like what you build, so you have to have tenants/people/companies that are attracted to the concept of green building and want to be a part of it. In saying that, studies have been done at schools, universities, hospitals and offices, and the green-building concept has shown a positive outcome toward a healthier image. All these results were shown through green buildings in their industry as hospitals showed patients healing faster, employees taking off less work for sick days, and kids actually testing higher in sustainable schools …

—Ryan A. Schwotzer,

Crossgates Inc.,

Dauphin County

Building green is a responsibility everyone in the construction industry has, and we must be conscious of the impact new construction has on our environment. Building green is simply one step we can take to do our part in reducing this impact, and we must all contribute toward this effort. The construction industry must and will continue the growing trend of building green — it is simply the right thing to do.

—Derek A. Donnelly,

C.S. Davidson Inc.,

York County

In certain instances, environmental and energy-saving building practices can be a big savings in both the short and long term. However, some systems may need very specialized regular maintenance or service. These costs should be considered along with any potential long-term savings.

—Richard A. Schwankl,

CDR Improvements Inc.,

Lancaster County

Our best clients seek to build long-term value in real estate projects they develop. For DM/A as a design firm, this provides challenge to our staff, and we love it. I think that, for the most part, the building and development industry in our market has evolved and matured to embrace the concept of value and sustainable design. The day of the quick buck in real estate has passed. Sophisticated regulation and consumers are demanding of long-term quality.

David D. Miller,

David Miller/Associates Inc.,

Lancaster County

For the most part, yes, but cost is a negative factor. Is it necessary to have the building commissioned and certified? Not in my opinion. USGBC and the Green Building industry established many sound, sensible guidelines to reduce waste and use alternative materials, while achieving the desired result, and doing so as a steward of the environment, both locally and on a grand scale. The highest standards of LEED certification are typically only achievable by those with unlimited budgets, so our approach is to try to incorporate many green-building design principles into even the smallest project. That’s a win for all involved.

—David Morgan,

Fischbach Morgan & Associates,

Cumberland County

Green building is definitely worth it when ALL aspects of what building green means. Transporting something across the country for an item that provides little environmental impact depending on the region makes little sense. However, using highly renewable resources that are geographically located as well as energy-efficient building techniques makes a lot of sense. In addition, it only makes economic sense if the person is going to be staying in the home for more than five to eight years because of the payback period. With a highly mobile society, it makes it much harder to sell the additional costs because real estate appraisers don’t account for the “green factor” in their valuations. Until we as a society place a higher value on these techniques, they will flounder in being implemented.

—Craig Deimler,

Gary Deimler & Sons Construction Inc.,

Dauphin County

Yes. We definitely need to get more active in utilizing green-building techniques in construction and energy-efficiency measures throughout the industry.

—Dennis Fitzkee,

LSC Design Inc.,

York County

In the long run, planning to build green or remodel green is a great way to invest in your future. Money spent today on insulation, thermal windows, cisterns, native plants, light-colored walls … will save you energy and our natural resources, which also translates into money in your wallet. Increasing natural light may even result in better employee productivity. Go green!

—Jo Ellen Litz,

Litz Co.,

Lebanon County

Is it worth it NOT to build green? The IBC (new code followed by Pennsylvania) required higher efficiencies, more control and other green concepts as a standard. Therefore, the cost difference in dollars will decrease between old methods of construction and green methods of construction.

—Vaughn G. Silar Jr.,

Paragon Engineering Services Inc.,

York County

Our customers think it is … We are an HVAC and insulation contractor who has seen our geothermal heating/cooling and sprayed foam insulation business triple in the last 12 months!

—Eric Kling,

R.R. Kling & Sons,

York County

Yes. In evaluating the advisability of building a LEED-certified building at 211 N. Front St., we determined that the payback for the added cost was seven years. Which is to say, the utility savings at the end of seven years was equal to the added initial cost of the green elements. It should be borne in mind that the building, which is now the headquarters of the PHFA, was certified at a gold level of LEED (leadership in energy efficient design) criteria.

—Tony Pascotti,

Pascotti Realty Inc.,

Dauphin County

If building green is similar to building “passive” solar or energy efficient, my appraisal experience shows that buyers do not pay a premium for features such as passive solar or energy efficiency. They buy a home because they like it.

—Dotty Royer,

Royer Appraisal Ltd.,

Lancaster

Yes, we at the National Association of Realtors chose to build our new headquarters in Washington, D.C., as a green building to set a model for all business and trade associations to step forward and participate in the program. It takes a little more planning, a little more work, but the results and energy saved are worth the effort. If everyone would incorporate some of this technology in their new construction, it would go a long way to reclaiming the environment we live and work in.

—Len Ferber,

Re/Max Realty Specialists,

Lancaster County

Most definitely; the decision-makers today are the same group that started Earth Day and told McDonald’s to stop using styrofoam containers for their quarter-pounder with cheese; We have abused this mother earth to the point that our children won’t experience the same natural wonders. Construction today accounts for more than 40 percent of the expended energy used in the United States. If we can build using recycled products, buildings that are energy efficient, buildings that save water, we’ll be headed in the right direction.

—Keith G. Falco,

Studio 5 Architects,

Lancaster

It is hard to argue against the “building green” concept. Building green generally means making environmentally friendly and sustainable decisions that reduce the impact of the home on the environment not only during construction but also for the long-term existence of the house. Saying it’s not worth it to build green could be construed as an indifference to the environment. However, the difficulty in building green is the added expense it brings to the construction process and the willingness of the consumer (homebuyer) to pay a higher price for such a home. In the current housing market, buyers and builders are looking for ways to reduce cost and expenses, and this is a discretionary feature. Our company took a giant step in this direction (building green) years ago, when we decided to build all our homes to better energy-efficiency standards and have them independently inspected and tested at completion to earn the EPA Energy Star Certification. Energy Star Homes are proven to be efficient, have lower operating cost, and deliver better protection against cold, heat, drafts, moisture, pollution and noise. An energy-efficient home helps ensure consistent temperatures between and across rooms, improved indoor-air quality, and greater durability. Building green is a term not yet fully defined or determined throughout the industry but building EPA-backed Energy Star Homes is well defined and regulated and a giant step in this direction. Yes, it’s worth taking steps in this direction.

—John Schilling,

Fine Line Homes,

Dauphin County

Read more responses on page 11 of the Sept. 7 Business Journal.

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