Environmentally friendly commercial properties are turning up with
increasing frequency, but the residential market is greening more
Environmentally friendly commercial properties are turning up with increasing frequency, but the residential market is greening more slowly. Homebuyers are less able to see the long-term value of the initial costs, and designing homes with green elements takes more time. For local homebuyers interested in making their houses as green as possible, here’s a primer on some of the most appealing features.
40- to 50-year warranty asphalt shingles – More durable and longer lasting than traditional shingles; cost approximately $350 per 100 square feet; includes removal and disposal of existing shingles and installation.
30- to 50-year warranty standing-seam metal roof – Materials are reusable at the end of its life; costs more than $500 per 100 square feet, includes removal and disposal of existing shingles and installation.
Building-integrated photovoltaic roof – Thin film solar cells that can be integrated into the building with asphalt or metal roofing; converts sunlight into electricity. Data on price varies widely, depending on roof and housing style.
Vegetative roof – Includes layers of drainage materials and soil/plant media; reduces runoff, improves air/water quality, conserves energy; costs are high, an average of around $1,800 per 100 square feet; still rare in the U.S. housing market.
Geothermal heat pump – Uses the ground instead of outside air for heating; according to Energy Star, uses 30 percent less energy than standard heat pumps; costs approximately $15,000-$25,000; pays for itself in three to 10 years, depending on baseline energy use.
Whole-house fan – Draws air through the house and exhausts the air through vents in the attic; running the fan during cool evenings can reduce the air-conditioning demand during the day, particularly for brick and block houses; costs $750-$1,000 for fan only.
Energy Star windows – Efficient operation saves money and energy; costs approximately $425-$650 per opening.
WaterSense toilets and faucets – Water efficiency reduces the strain on water and waste-water treatment facilities that are large consumers of energy; according to the Environmental Protection Agency, if every household in America installed a WaterSense-labeled faucet, we could save more than 60 billion gallons of water annually; a WaterSense faucet costs $125-$325 (uninstalled); dual-flush toilets save water and energy and cost $350 uninstalled.
Rainwater catchment – Stores rain in tanks or barrels; water is then used to irrigate gardens, plants and lawns; price ranges from $100 to $10,000.
• Use local materials whenever possible. This “creates and stabilizes the local economy and reduces shipping,” said Shaun Pardi, president of Envinity Inc., a green design-build company in State College.
• Site-specific design integrates the house with its surroundings, helping the home to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter, Pardi said.
• Don’t use vinyl siding. New materials, such as compressed fiber cement siding, are now on the market. “It’s hard and durable, does not require painting, comes in a variety of colors and textures, is easily recycled and overall is much better for the environment,” said Thomas L. Bransom, mechanical engineer with Gannett Fleming Inc. in East Pennsboro Township.